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How Prints On Glass Started

The process to print on glass dates back to 16th century Europe. Whether for portraiture work or advertising, this has long been a method to create stunning as well as commercially productive signage with glass prints. This art arose from one of the European printing processes that created works known as mezzotints.

Utilizing a technique known as fusion, a mezzotint, company logo, or advertisement would be fitted to the back of a sheet of this durable transparent medium, sealed behind another sheet, fired, and then the final uniform piece was removed making it appear that the image was also made out of glass. Ways in which prints on glass are achieved include fusion, sand blasting, embossing, silk screening, photographic composition, and digital printing.

Predating the digital revolution, silk screening was commonly used. By stretching a fine mesh or silkscreen over a wooden or metal frame, inks are then passed through the screening material leaving behind an image. Special inks, usually enamel based, are used so that when the glass is fired the kiln does not harm the image or advertisement. When making stencils for compositions of this nature, companies cover certain perforated areas of the screen until the desired shape, logo, or advertisement is formed. Different color patterns are also easily arranged, just merely take into account the need of different screens, stencils, and drying time in between individual coats of ink.

With the advent of the digital revolution, this process new economic heights and efficiencies were quickly realized. One of the first major changes was the removal of large silk screening frames, large stencils, and the screens themselves. Placing a print on glass was now attainable by placing the medium on one cost saving self automated digital imprinter. These units regularly employ ink jet image imposing techniques in combination with higher quality inks to allow for multi color composing in one pass as well as shorter drying times. This procedure also allows for the company phrase, serial number, or bar code to go straight from digital file to print on glass. This is due to the onboard computer powering the whole design process from beginning to drying time without human assistance, allowing companies to much more cost effectively create, package and ship advertising signs for example.

Timeless images can also be imprinted upon this transparent media by processes such as sand blasting and embossing which can usually be purchased as separate attachments for the automated digital machines. Sand and water is blasted with enough force and speed to disrupt the particle structure on the outside of the crystal to give it a frosted finish. Words and images can also be lightly engraved or pressed into the medium or even filled with colored inks in a process known as embossing.

With functional techniques from the 16th century can be combined with new digital technology to launch advertising to a whole new realm of audience potential and beauty by having it embodied as a print on glass of the finest quality.

Kaiser Industry has been helping businesses with their signs for over 20 years. From doors and windows to kiosks and wayfinding signage, we can help you from design to installation services.




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  • Digital Glass Printing


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