Okay, so that may sound a little crazy but don’t worry we are not asking you to swim around in glass, that would be madness! We are today talking about the evolution of printing on glass and Dip-Tech’s role in it.
Did you know that it was less than two decades ago that the digital printing technology was introduced to the glass printing industry? Well, it is true. It all started with a single spot colour, black, the technology made an impact in the automotive industry. Then as time passed and as the technology progressed, additional ceramic ink colours were developed and the printing technology advanced to where a wide range of vibrant colours could be digitally mixed and printed simultaneously. Due to this advancement in the industry it paved the way for the first use of digital ceramic in-glass printing in architecture when, in 2007, a beautiful satellite image of the town of Eiserfeld was printed on the towering Eiserfeld Municipal Bank glass façade. From there on, digital printing with ceramic inks on glass has had a visible impact on architectural glass around the world.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Traditional glass printing methods create basic dot or line patterns or spandrel glass, and often include some solar heat gain reduction functionality. Due to the advances in digital ceramic glass printing, the role, cost effectiveness, and added value of functional decorative glass have expanded far beyond its traditional capabilities, creating new business and opportunities across the board.
One of the companies who is at the forefront of this revolution is Dip-Tech. As the industry pioneer, it was the first to overcome the challenges of adapting digital printing technology to glass and ceramic inks. Some of the key challenges the company battled against included printing on a non absorbent and transparent surface, developing durable inorganic ceramic inks in a multitude of colours, and maintaining circulation and jetting through a printhead an ink that is comprised of sub-micron particles of glass. There was also the additional task of integrating graphic digitalisation standards into the glass printing workflow. To make this happen Dip-Tech developed a flatbed inkjet printer designed specifically for glass applications, digital ceramic inks with extreme durability as along with weather resistant and specialised image processing software. The functional performance enabled by the inks can bring value in multiple parameters, including energy efficiency, solar control, light diffusion and transmission, glare reduction, and slip resistance.
The development is on the rise across the world and can be seen throughout architecture over many landscapes. A great example of this fantastic process would be the façade of the Origami Building in Paris. It was originally intended to be created from marble; however instead the architects ultimately chose the path for digitally printed glass in order to maintain control of structural and aesthetic quality and to avoid the de-crystallisation that can occur with extremely thin slices of marble. While retaining the visual effect, compared to marble, the digital ceramic printed glass is cost effective and durable.
One project, Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago, that may blow your mind, not only looks so eye catching but also is a prime example of how digital ceramic printed glass can help optimise a building’s energy requirements. The dome’s printed glass blocks 73% of solar heat and 99% of UV light, while letting through 50% of visible light. This is due to the fact that opacity and translucency can be precisely manipulated when digitally printing on glass even with different sized panels. These manipulations provide control over the shading coefficient through which the flow of natural light and heat is managed.