An Israeli company is doing its part to beautify the urban environment – by helping building designers produce remarkable decorated glass windows and coverings. It uses durable ceramic inks to digitally transfer any image from a computer into the panes of glass that architects and designers use to decorate both exteriors and interiors of buildings.
The printing solution, developed by Kfar Sava-based Dip-Tech, has been used to design malls, hospitals, office buildings, and universities around the world – bringing a touch of the magic of printed glass (similar to stained glass) to a new generation, in which the art has become nearly lost.
“The purchasers of our digital in-glass printing solution are glass fabricators, who do the actual glass manufacturing, while their customers are the architects and designers who apply glass in building facades, accents in kitchens, backsplashes, bathrooms, and other design applications.” said Shlomit Niva Tevet, Dip-Tech’s Director of Marketing. The company was established in 2005, with headquarters in Kfar Sava and sales offices in the U.S. and Europe.
Digital glass printing works the same as digital paper printing: An image is sent to the printer, which then gets transferred into the glass. The system is actually a bit more involved, because after the printing, the glass must be dried, and then tempered in a tempering furnace.
Dip-Tech’s digital printing solution includes special inks the company has developed, said Tevet. The digital ceramic inks are made out of nano particles of glass and inorganic pigments, with the ink infused into the glass by the end of the process. After the tempering process, the ink becomes a part of the glass, meaning that it can stand up to any and all weather and environment conditions without fading. “Our printing solution allows the user to print a wide scale of colors, all in one pass. This is an exceptional capability when it comes to glass,” which usually requires much more intensive processing, Tevet said.
Besides producing printed glass for aesthetic purposes, printed glass can be used for other functions too – such as controlling sunlight through car windshields to prevent too much heat from coming through as the sun shines through the glass. Dip-Tech’s unique inks, said Tevet, can do that too.
“We are the only company in the world to produce ceramic ink with so many color possibilities for digital printed glass.” In addition, Tevet said, “our printing solution provides the accuracy – and color matching capabilities – that meet up to the severe standards of professionals in the industry.”
Alternative printing methods, such as screen ink, do not imprint the ink into the glass, meaning that it could more easily fade or wash off, since the ink is only on the surface. The color accuracy of the screen ink method is far more limited, and is incapable of producing the hues and effects professionals demand, she said.
Digital printed glass with ceramic inks can be seen on display in the glass facade of Harlem Hospital in New York. The building was refurbished several years ago, and to strike a dramatic note, the exterior of the building was decorated with a glass mural facade, duplicating works of art that depict the struggle of southern U.S. slaves for freedom. The glass was made to specifications by manufacturer PPG Industries of Pittsburgh — using Dip-Tech’s equipment. The result: A set of murals that look painted into the windows, with 429 individually printed panes of glass giving viewers a lesson in history and an appreciation of art, with the building becoming a tourist attraction.
The same “wow factor” is evident in other projects Dip-Tech’s equipment has been used to produce – from the “forest facade” of Moscow’s Afimall, via the pop-art design of the Munday Wall in Australia, to the facade of the Murduch University Sports Science Hub in Murdoch, Australia.