Custom glass printing – Deliver the flexibility customers demand
Glass is one of the most prolific materials used in building and design. Relatively inexpensive and readily available, it lends itself well to countless applications. While exceptional on its own, custom glass printing adds to glass’ native function, enhancing the creative opportunities, as well as compliance with functional requirements.
Indeed, with custom digital glass printing, the variety of what can be achieved is the largest. Any surface material can be easily recreated on glass. Any image, from a simple flower pattern to a highly-detailed human face, can be fabricated. And the glass itself can do double (even triple or more!) duty: looking great, providing privacy, working to reduce solar gain, and helping prevent bird collisions.
In other words, custom glass printing is one of the most fertile fields for architects and designers looking for creative freedom with practical value. This in turn makes it a fantastic prospect for glass processors looking to offer an added-value product that answers an existing market need.
The digital custom glass printing advantage
While screen printing is great for large batch orders, digital ceramic glass printing has long been recognized as the preferred medium for the more personalized glass elements.
With its digital nature, it has the inherent flexibility to print literally any image on glass. The design is created as a digital file, sent to print, and then the inks are jetted onto the glass panel. There is no screen setup, no messy cleanup, just printing in a simplified manner similar to desktop printing, but at a whole other scale. And with no limit on the number of colors that can be used in a design (unlike screen printing which can handle a maximum of four colors at a time), it’s far more versatile in terms of creative elements. These advantages are particularly strategic in terms of custom glass – whether required for architectural, automotive, industrial or design applications.
But it’s certainly not one form of printing at the expense of the other. While screen printing is an excellent option for large batches of the same design (in which the fixed costs are easily absorbed by economy of scale), digital ceramic glass printing is the preferred format for individual glass pieces or those numbering into the hundreds, particularly when printing more than one or two colors. As such, it’s advantageous for a glass processor’s business to offer both, balancing between the high-volume productivity of screen printing and the added-value service of digital glass print.
Designs of any scale, with digital ceramic printing on glass
Until recently, we mostly had to choose surface materials by seeing just a small sample of the surface design and on the basis of that, integrating the material and design across the whole surface. However, with digital ceramic printing on glass it is totally different. Instead of choosing only by sample, we now can create a flexible design with an unlimited amount of variation. The ability to print anything we can imagine on a glass surface frees us from the limitations of design decisions based only on small-scale samples.
The flexibility of digital printing on glass enables us to design a full picture of any kind, in all its details. No matter how many glass panes are being used for a façade, you can design the entire façade as one surface.
An extra benefit of using digital ceramic printing on exterior glass surfaces is that there are software tools available to help with calculating the energy saving performance of the glass. For example, the Dip-Energy web-based tool calculates the transmitted light and the SHGC value of glass printed with a digital image, based on an uploaded digital file of the intended image. With the ability to preview the key energy performance values before even having the glass printed, architects can play with aspects of the design, adjusting it to achieve higher ratings for LEED, BREEAM, and other sustainability accreditations.
Gain flexibility in function and design
Digital ceramic glass printing is an incredible design tool. In addition to printing any image, it can be used to replicate the appearance of any surface material – including wood, stone, leaves, and metals – realistically imitating the textural and visual elements.
Beyond aesthetics, there are many benefits to employing custom glass for these recreations. In fact, printing on glass in many ways enables applications that would not be practical or even possible with the original material. For example, a large piece of marble may be difficult to source, too expensive to buy, or too heavy to hang in installations such as a façade curtain. Real wood, similarly can be quite costly and, especially in exterior uses, can quickly suffer from the wear and tear of rain and sun, so that it loses its fresh look within a matter of years.
Custom glass printing overcomes these limitations. It is able to create the same look as marble or wood, but at a much lower cost, at a lighter weight, and with a better ability to sustain the elements (weather, UV, chemicals and scratch alike), with zero-to-low maintenance (there’s no need to re-stain glass as would be required with wood). This means the printed glass will stay looking great for many years. Furthermore, glass enables light transference, easier handling, better environmental control and better privacy properties than other surface materials, often making it the preferred medium from the get-go.
Excellent results in any size
For custom glass printing, the size of the glass being printed depends on the size of the printing system. For example, Dip-Tech offers digital ceramic printers of different sizes, which can handle glass panels ranging from 30 cm by 30 cm, and up to 18 meters by 2.8 meters in size, essentially offering a printer to suit any glass processor.
Designs for smaller installations can be printed on a single glass panel. For larger projects, such as a full building façade, multiple panels can be printed and seamlessly joined.
This makes digital glass printing services a good long-term investment for interior and exterior applications ranging from office windows or a decorated door, to kitchen backsplashes, office dividers, tabletops, shower doors, partitions, canopies, and more.
Think custom glass printing is right for your business?
Glass processors that offer custom glass printing gain huge potential – with a leading business edge and unprecedented flexibility, perfect for meeting the highly specific requirements of architects, interior designers, and other industries.
To learn more about custom glass opportunities and what can be achieved with Dip-Tech digital ceramic glass printing, contact us today.