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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Custom Printing: Printing Silver and Gold on Glass


Image by www.depositphotos.com

What you see above is silver ink on glass. I’ve increased the contrast a bit to make the texture and radiance a bit more obvious, but overall the concept is pregnant with possibility. When you add digital custom printing to the mix, gold as well as silver ink, and layering of glass to protect the ink from scuffing (and apparently tarnishing as well), you have the recipe for luxurious success.

Sedak (Gersthofen) has done just this. And as their promotional materials attest, you can even create curved glass with intricate patterning, fine lines, and gradations. It’s clearly prime time for this technology.

Here’s what I learned from my research.

Sedak Ceramic Digital Printing

First of all, this is done with actual silver and gold. As Sedak notes in its press release, (“Real Gloss in Digital Printing: Sedak Presents Its New Technology,” by www.sedak.com, 06/24/2020), fine particles of gold or silver are suspended within a special solution and then applied with flatbed digital printing equipment (or, for single colors in a flood coating, Sedak uses roller-coaters). These are ceramic inks that will withstand the high heat (600 degrees Celsius) that will permanently bond the precious metals to the glass. The glass can then be further treated to be insulating and safety glass. It can even be curved to enhance its design and presentation.

Initially, the pigment is applied to “float glass.” Once printed and tempered with heat, “the printed side is placed on the inside of the laminate towards the film interlayer and is thus protected by the glass” (“Real Gloss in Digital Printing: Sedak Presents Its New Technology”).

What this means is that the images printed on the glass are protected from scratches and from environmental damage. The panes are also UV-resistant.

Due to the nuances of digital custom printing, Sedak can print intricate designs on the glass, including “fine dots, complex patterns, and even color gradients.” “The digital gold and silver printing can also be combined with ceramic color printing” (“Real Gloss in Digital Printing: Sedak Presents Its New Technology”).

Thus, you can expand the number of colors reproducible on the glass, although the technology as presented in the article really shines when it marries “the transparency of the glass and the brilliance of the precious metals” (“Real Gloss in Digital Printing: Sedak Presents Its New Technology”). Fortunately, also due to the nuances of digital printing, this process is economical (i.e., not as wasteful as, perhaps, prior technologies such as custom screen printing).

This is an elegant approach to interior and exterior decoration, and Sedak can print these glass panes in sizes up to 3.30 x 18 meters (10.826 feet x 59.0551 feet). (In other company literature, the process yields even larger glass, extending the length to 20 meters or 65.58 feet.) That’s a large pane of glass, clearly destined for architectural usage. Sedak can achieve this effect at a resolution of 1024 dpi, hence the company’s claims to detail in intricate filigree structures, gradients, etc.

Features of Sedak Glass

Here’s some of the features Sedak’s website highlights:

  1. “Translucent printing
  2. “Opaque printing
  3. “Printing in multiple coatings
  4. “Color transitions
  5. “Thin lines
  6. “Concentric circles
  7. “Points in different levels of intensity and opaqueness
  8. “Photo-realistic print”

You can even create a “double-vision effect” by precisely registering a second pass on the inkjet press. You can print one color on top of the other, making one color visible from the outside of a building and another color visible from the inside.

On a purely practical level, you can provide “sight and sun protection on the outside…and glare protection with an undisturbed view inside” (Sedak’s website) by using light color dots outside (presumably halftone dots) and dark color dots inside. The light color dots would then, if I understand correctly, reflect the sunlight away from the glass (presumably also reducing the amount of heat that enters the building and therefore saving money in summer cooling costs).

In addition, from a storage perspective and a manufacturing-cost perspective, the process saves time, space, and money. You don’t need to store screen printing materials and screens. The setup times are shorter. And there’s less waste than in custom screen printing.

What You Can Learn From Sedak’s Promotional Materials

All of this gets me thinking, particularly in light of what I have been reading online about the use of digital custom printing technology.

In the articles I’ve read, interior and exterior architectural design has become a major locus of growth for digital imaging. For instance, many of the articles have referenced digitally printed wallpaper. There have also been multiple articles regarding digitally printed fabric, which lends itself to everything from bedsheets and covers to upholstery. And anything can be personalized without raising the price.

Even before Covid19, I had seen a growing nesting instinct among people. I had been reading about stock market gains in such retailers as Home Depot and Lowes (and seeing proof of this interest when my fiancee and I have shopped in these stores). People want to make their homes special because they are spending more time there. Therefore, anything that provides both exterior and interior decorating capabilities has been increasing in popularity.

Beyond this, it seems that digital commercial printing is ideally suited to home and office decoration. Particularly for interior design, it is often much cheaper to replace wall coverings and even interior glass structures, when you want a new interior look, than to pull down walls and rebuild everything. (I believe the current jargon is changing the “skin” of an interior design.) Granted, for interior design, and particularly for exterior windows, replacing Sedak glass is probably not an inexpensive undertaking.

In addition, people love personalization. If you could prepare a home or office interior that completely reflects your own identity or the identity of your business, chances are it would appeal to you.

The same goes for the gold, silver, and glass elegance of Sedak’s work. People, in general, also want their home or business to reflect an air of success, beauty, and opulence. And the combination of the materials and the level of Sedak’s detail achieves this look.

Finally, digital custom printing is ideal because it eliminates the need for large manufacturing runs and materials storage while increasing the detail (when compared to custom screen printing, for instance) of the final design work. Visitors to your home or business can lose themselves in the intricate detail of filigree, gradations, and transitions from one color to another, while relishing the curved glass.

I think this is definitely a winner.

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