Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

Printing Industry Exchange ( 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.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Custom Printing: Printing on Glass with Ceramic Inks

Photo purchased from …

Printing on glass is a challenge. After all, the substrate is completely non-porous. In contrast, most commercial printing paper (with the exception of such synthetic stocks as Yupo) is porous. Printing ink seeps in and attaches to the paper fibers, and the vehicle (liquid part of the ink) is absorbed into both the paper and the atmosphere during the drying process.

Not so with glass. The ink sits up on the surface as it dries. What this means is that it will not adhere as well as ink adheres to paper. You can scratch it or rub it off. This means the divider window your architect just installed in your office suite may not wear as well or for as long as you would like, given what you just paid for it.

UV inks are an option. They are cured instantly by exposure to ultraviolet light and will dry right on the surface of glass, wood, metal, or practically anything else. But you still have issues with rub resistance of the ink (and, actually, degradation from light as well).

Of late, however, printers, ink companies, and ceramics professionals are rolling out frit-based ceramic inks that can be printed on glass. Once fired (just like ceramics that have been glazed are fired), the frit-based ceramic inks become part of the glass. (They are no longer just on its surface.) And as with ceramic art pieces, this ensures the durability of the pigment.

What Is Frit

First of all, what it frit? This is what Wikipedia has to say:

“A frit is a ceramic composition that has been fused, quenched, and granulated. Frits form an important part of the batches used in compounding enamels and ceramic glazes.

“According to the OED, the origin of the word “frit” dates back to 1662 and is “a calcinated mixture of sand and fluxes ready to be melted in a crucible to make glass.” Nowadays, the unheated raw materials of glass making are more commonly called “glass batch.”

“In antiquity, frit could be crushed to make pigments or shaped to create objects. It may also have served as an intermediate material in the manufacture of raw glass.”

New Process for Printing on Glass

I found an interesting article on this subject this week, entitled “Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings,” by Ben Pilkington, and published on on March 25, 2022. It describes how frit-based ceramic ink can be inkjetted onto glass, which can then actually be fired directly on the flatbed printer (presumably in an oven covering the flat bed of the inkjet equipment). This new technique puts custom printing on glass a step ahead of prior custom printing techniques (screen printing and UV digital printing). As noted before, just drying (or UV curing) the pigment on the glass does not address the problem of ink rub resistance (which also presents as deterioration over time when exposed to sunlight), and even screen printing ink onto glass (a process with considerably more complex and time-consuming makeready than UV digital printing) only ensures ink durability if the glass is fired (after printing and before use).

Moreover, according to the article, these imaging processes can weaken the glass, making them less desirable for printing large panes of exterior glass.

Also, custom screen printing usually requires multiple screens for printing complex, multi-colored images.

So the overall process, whether achieved with custom screen printing or UV digital printing, can take a long time, cost a lot, and reduce the longevity of the glass. Hence, the advent of inkjet equipment that can image highly detailed work (all colors and layers at one time), that requires minimal makeready, and that provides a durable product is a most encouraging development.

“Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings,” does mention an additional process, which can be done with intense heat. The glass must be heated and smoothed, which drives out air bubbles, “voids, and cavities” (“Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings”) and strengthens the glass surface, “ensuring a compacted, strong glass structure” (“Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings”), while chemically bonding the ceramic ink to the glass. After these preparation and custom printing processes, any additional surface coatings can be added.

Why Is This Important?

So now you can print incredible detail on glass at high resolution with an inkjet process that yields a durable product. Why is this important?

First, there are aesthetic reasons. An elegant, printed-glass product can add to the upscale ambiance of a corporate office, burnishing the company brand, all without additional maintenance costs. And since using frit-based ceramic inks actually bonds the ink to the glass, this aesthetic addition will last a long time.

Then there’s privacy. A window between offices can be of aesthetic benefit, but by adding a tint or pattern, the glass can become somewhat less translucent, providing separation between the activities in one room and those in the other.

But the third and most intriguing reason (to me, and apparently to Ben Pilkington in “Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings”) is the environmental benefit. By adding tints to glass, an architect can affect the efficiency of lighting and heating/cooling the building. Depending on the choice of coatings, the ambient temperature in the building can be naturally controlled. And this saves money.

Intelligently designed and placed printed glass can also reduce the need for and cost of interior lighting, depending on the “diffusion or transmission” of the glass coatings (“Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings”). Moreover, these glass panels can even be set at various angles both for aesthetic effect and to enhance their heating or cooling properties.

Finally, “Digitally Printing Glass for Buildings” notes that these ceramic, frit-based inks can be used to add traction to floors, which can minimize falls. They can also be used to mark windows with imagery that will deter birds from flying into the glass.

So between the aesthetic uses and functional uses, this technology has room to run, especially since the entire process benefits from the high-detail, high-resolution capabilities (and minimal makeready) of digital commercial printing, as well as the ability of the glass to control ambient light and temperature in sustainable ways that save money.

This is one trend I plan to keep abreast of.

The Takeaway

Most of you probably won’t be designing imagery for custom printing on glass. Granted. Nor will I. However, it is interesting to note that digital commercial printing, and specifically inkjet printing, is the vehicle for this advance in glass printing. I think that over time more and more processes for creating both objects (3D printing, which is akin to an inkjet process) and print media will depend on this technology of laying down one pass after another of either plastic 3D filament or commercial printing ink (or in this case heat-tolerant, frit-based ceramic ink).

Comments are closed.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved