Digital ceramic printing on glass is a technological development used for the application of imagery, pattern or text to the surface of flat glass. Like other printing on glass methods, it uses a form of printmaking. Digital ceramic printing on glass has allowed for new possibilities and improvements in flat glass decoration and treatment, such as high levels of customization, translucency and opacity control, light diffusion and transmission, ability to calculate solar heat gain co-efficiency, electrical conductivity, slip resistance, and reduced incidences of bird collision.
Digital Printing with ceramic inks, desirable for decorative, functional and environmental purposes, poses a new set of challenges addressed through technological innovations. At the most advanced level, digital glass printers, ceramic inks, and image processing software are fully integrated with one another and each contributes to the overall advancements in the digital printing on glass process. The three part system allows for control and flexibility over the application of the ceramic inks. Transparency and levels of translucency and opacity can be precisely manipulated. There is a high level of control over color matching, and multiple colors can be printed simultaneously. Unlike screen printing, digital ceramic printing on glass does not require screens and the files are stored digitally making printing of all sizes and replacement of any panel simple, in high resolution, full color.
When using ceramic Frit based inks the glass is fired or tempered to fuse the inks with the glass. Due to the extreme temperatures of this process there is first a decomposition of organic additives and binders of the ink. Next there is a fusion of the frit to the substrate and pigments followed by the expulsion of voids to give a compacted structure. Lastly there is a formation of a surface with the desire properties. A successful firing of the glass and ceramic ink will result in a bubble free layer of constant thickness and homogeneous pigment dispersion within the glass