What is silk screen printing on glass?
Advanced technologies for printing on glass have changed the way we look at glass as a medium for interior and exterior surface design, whether for architectural, commercial, or industrial applications. The choice between digital printing vs screen printing methods today is based not only on the technique, but also on considerations such as location, quantity, trend, image, sustainability, and versatility, as well as more functional and utilitarian requirements.
It’s time to rethink digital printing vs screen printing
The design potential of printed glass enhances the use of glass to enable the creation of unique, beautiful, and functional interior and exterior surfaces, with excellent results. Digital printing and screen printing are in fact complementary approaches, even on the production floor.
Glass processors who have both technologies can effectively shift between the two formats, as needed, to maximize usage and optimize ROI. The solutions are differentiated by the level of customizable design potential, cost-effectiveness, durability, and market demand. Architects, interior designers, and the automotive industry can benefit from both types of printing. In short: It’s not so much a matter of digital printing vs screen printing but rather digital printing AND screen printing!
Screen printing is the oldest form of glass printing still in use. Suitable for both interior and exterior surfaces, it has long been the accepted method for high-volume, durable glass printing production, especially for automotive glass and industrial, large-panel architectural glass applications. Screen printing designs are created using a stencil and applied to the glass surface by spreading ink across a mesh screen. The stencil blocks out areas of glass, as the ink flows through onto the glass to create the design. The glass undergoes firing, providing a heat treatment in which the ink has adhered to the glass. Although screen printing on glass is highly durable with high print quality, the time and cost to set up each color is a disadvantage when the quantities required are not large. The method has a maximum capability of four colors, which also limits creativity and flexibility in design options.
Digital ceramic inks are fused into the glass after printing, during the firing stage, so that the inks become an integral part of the printed glass. The versatility of digital ceramic printing on glass provides not only the unlimited design potential to print any image, pattern text, or graphics, but also the versatility to reproduce the appearance of surface textures such as wood grain or marble.
Traditional screen printing has been circulating for so many years, although the process of glass screen printing has undiversified. The process of glass screen printing is as follows.
Glass cutting → edging → punching → cleaning → Making screen printing plates → glaze preparation → screen printing → drying → sintering → finished product
The glazes of screen printing flat glass are generally 240 mesh, and the screen printing mesh 220 mesh is commonly used for glass screen printing.
The screen for glass printing is the same as the conventional screen printing screen. The silkscreen fabrics which to be used depends on the printing purpose. Higher mesh count 300 to 360 mesh is required for high precision fine glass products. The synthetic mesh includes polyester & nylon can be used for infrared hot stamping glaze printing. This type of screen printing extensively used because its economical for a small number of varieties of glass screen printing.
To get the desired printing effect on the glass, first, create a design on the screen to block the silk mesh that does not need to be printed. When the glazes ink spread evenly by the squeegee on the screen, it will not pass through the part of the stencil. In other areas where there is no blocking, the glazes will adhere onto the glass through the silk mesh to obtain a high-quality image. The image screen printing on the glass can be precise, and transparency is adjustable.
Glass is an amorphous inorganic material that softens as the temperature increases, it will deform and when heated to the softening temperature. During the colored glass screen printing, each color requires a separate film design. After decorating the ink screen on the glass, sometimes they need to heat and sinter the ink to “burn” the ink onto the glass to fix the image and get a colorful decorative pattern. However, the sintering temperature must be lower than the softening temperature of the glass to be printed to make sure that the glass will not be deformed. Generally, the sintering temperature for the glass glazes should be lower than 520 ° C, usually between 480 ° C to 520 ° C.
Combine glass screen printing with other processing methods, you will get better artistic effects. For example, etching, ice patterned, frosting, and defogging, etc could achieve by glass surface process and accomplish a variety of artistic effects and practical functions.