Glass printing value for glass processors, architects & designers
Glass printing – A wide world of opportunities
Screen Simple, cost-effective, flexible and robust, glass printing is a fast-growing field that expands business opportunities. For glass processors, glass printing is a high value-added service that can increase margins on glass sales, particularly for customized glass. For architects and designers, offers top level design freedom and functional value, allowing them to incorporate highly creative elements into their designs, while meeting varied practical requirements.
Glass printing has long been instrumental in creating a wide range of aesthetic and functional architectural and industrial designs. For buildings, the applications for glass printing range from full structure facades, to interior banisters, wall partitions, shower walls, and small kitchen details like backsplashes. Exceptionally versatile, glass printing is used to create singular art pieces for completely unique installations, or to add functionality (like solar control) to hundreds or thousands of windows in a single building.
At the same time, glass printing is equally prominent in the automotive and broader vehicular industry, as well as in industrial applications, which require compliance with various regulations for identification and functional purposes.
And while instances of glass printing can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt, the technology has come a long way since, with easier and more advanced methods that produce better results.
Types of glass printing
There are essentially three main types of glass printing available today, each of which differs in terms of the inks, software and printers being used – for differing results in terms of cost, durability and versatility.
The oldest form is screen printing, in which actual screens are used to create the pattern, by blocking the ink/paint that is being applied to the glass surface. Highly durable and suited for both internal and external surfaces, screen printing has a couple of downsides, including limited creativity (with a maximum of four colors combined per design), high fixed costs, and long setup/dismantling times. On the plus side, inks tend to be fairly affordable and glass printing speed can be very high, depending on the specific printer. Those factors, together with the economy of scale advantages of spreading the high fixed costs across a large volume of prints, make it the prime option for very large orders of the same design, particularly those that require only one or two colors.
UV digital glass printing, using organic inks that are cured onto the glass by UV lamps, is more flexible than screen printing, allowing for any number of color combinations, with highly reduced setup time and far fewer fixed costs. A lack of functional inks, and limitations on scratch-resistance and durability, however, limit its use in surface design applications.
Digital ceramic printing is by far the most versatile technology available for creating surface design on glass. In addition to the advantages offered by UV digital printing, which are fundamental to any digital printing technology, digital ceramic printing allows for the creation of just about any image on glass, in an unlimited array of colors. Designed to last, the ceramic inks are extremely durable, resistant to scratching, weather, elements and chemical interactions. This makes digital ceramic glass printing perfect for the widest range of interior and exterior applications. Just as it is exceptionally well-suited to the customization and flexibility requirements of architects and designers, it also provides a robust answer for the simpler glass printing designs required for short and medium-run automotive and industrial applications.
Recreating the look of any surface material using glass
One of the most distinct advantages offered by digital ceramic glass printing is the ability to mimic the appearance of any surface material at a more affordable price. Marble installations, for example, are extremely costly, and may be difficult to source. Instead, the appearance of marble and other natural materials such as wood, stone or metal can be digitally printed on glass with exceptionally accurate coloring and textural effects.
Printed glass makes for great finishing details simulating the look of marble tiles, wooden planks, large steel panels, and other surface materials, serving as a perfect complement to any space – public, private, interior or exterior. Easily customizable, each piece of glass can be printed with a different pattern. The options are endless, but the results are always the same: attractive, durable, and highly functional.
Want to try digital glass printing?
Contact us today to learn more about the opportunities opened by glass printing. The Dip-Tech team of professional engineers, designers and architects is waiting to hear from you!