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A Look at Options for Decorating Flat Glass

(May 2007) posted on Tue May 15, 2007

This article examines the flat-glass manufacturing process and explores several decorating methods that you can use to crack into this large market.

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By Wim Zoomer

Roller coating also produces significantly less waste than spray coating. This technology enables users to apply a coating on the glass surface without leaving any waste on the glass edges, so no more edge cleaning is required after the coating is applied. The coatings are relatively thick and opaque. This technique, which typically applies wet coatings that vary in thickness from approximately 10-250 microns, is an effective one for providing full surface coatings on flat glass.

Inkjet printing makes a whole host of consumables redundant. There is no need for film positives, screens, or gravure cylinders. Some prepress processes are bypassed as well, such as exposure and developing. There are no printing forms to prepare before printing, or clean and store afterwards. The printed image is simply stored digitally There are other advantages, too. Digital printing allows the operator to perform a quick and easy design change, and customized designs and images can also be created. Digital imaging today is an established print technique in graphics printing and promising one for glass decorating.

Computer-to-glass, or CTG, is an innovative digital printing technique on flat glass. A CTG system may use an inkjet printer or an electrophotographic printer, comparable to a photocopier, that deposits the ceramic substance on-to the glass substrate. These systems are supposedly suitable for both interior and exterior architecture applications, automotives, and appliances where screen printing is used. For inkjet printing, ceramic ink requires frequent stirring to prevent the system from clogging during printing. In electrophotography, the virtual image, represented by charged and uncharged areas of a photoconductive cylinder, passes through a special toner composed of ceramic frit. The toner is electrostatically attracted to the charged areas of the cylinder. Just like a photocopier, a transfer roller applies the toner to the glass substrate. Digital printing is currently an ideal method for prototyping, customized printing, or small-scale production.

Screen printing

Screen printing can be used to apply a relatively thick full-surface ceramic-paste deposit or to decorate glass with single-color or multicolored geometric designs, dots in a regular pattern, organic shapes, translucent images, full surface coats, conductive inks, four-color process graphics, and more. Screen printing large, flat panes requires the same technique, equipment, and tools used in graphics screen printing. The size of the equipment and tooling is just extended.


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