Printing on glass has long been established as a method of improving its functionality and usefulness as a building material.
In addition to offering a decoration, it can also control light and heat within a building.
There are the two main approaches to printing on glass:
• Screen Printing
• Digital Printing
The screen printing method is a traditional technique that has been used successfully for many decades.
Screen printing is suitable for both interior and exterior surfaces and is highly durable. The method uses ink spread carefully across one of more stencils cut to reflect the required design.
Up to four different colours may be applied to one piece of glass.
The design is fixed to the glass by using heat.
One or more stencils are made for each design, making the setup process both time consuming and expensive. Therefore, this process is better suited if the stencil can be used many times, i.e. for high volume. The image on the glass should be of high quality and durable.
The flexibility of digital printing on glass offers some considerable benefits over screen printing. There are two methods for digital printing on glass:
• UV-curable printing
• Digital ceramic printing.
Digital UV printing technology uses organic inks and supports unlimited colour combinations. The process uses ultraviolet light to dry the ink on the glass surface. This process is a fast and economical method for printing high-quality, customizable images on glass. However, durability and scratch-resistance are limited.
Digital ceramic printing use inks, containing ceramic frit, that are fused into the glass after printing; the inks become an integral part of the glass. This method offers additional functionality for interior and exterior applications, such as solar control, resistance to glare and reflection, and light diffusion and light transmission control with better durability characteristics.