When people talk about glass printing, they are almost always referring to images on special printed glass films that are pasted on top of existing sheets of glass. Most glass panels or office panels are already fixed in place. There is no way to cart them off to the print shop. So the solution is to have images or photos printed on glass films which can then be stuck onto the glass panels. Modern office interiors, restaurants, shops and other commercial spaces almost always have large proportions of their furniture made out of glass. You have buildings with huge glass facades, offices with glass partitions and cabins and off course, windows. Glass printing on these myriad surfaces opens up a whole lot of opportunities for branding and interior decoration.
High resolution, wide format printing is our specialty at Orchid Digitals, Pune. And rendering crisp images on printable films for glass is one of the abilities of these machines. Glass films come in rolls of 3, 4 and 5 feet. These rolls have a self-adhesive backing. Once the printing is done, the release paper / liner from the gummed back of the media, is peeled off. Trained fitters then paste this film on the glass panel with help of water and a squeegee.
Different types of glass films impart different types of properties or looks to the glass surface. For example, if you print on a transparent glass film and paste it on a glass partition, you can see what is happening on the other side of the partition. Alternatively, use a frosted window film to render your images and your finished sheet of glass, now gets a beautiful frosted, sanded effect.
Films used for glass prints are removable
Glass printing films are not very expensive. You can keep changing the look of your glass partitions, even on a modest budget. But more importantly, the adhesive / glue of glass films that we supply, do not damage the surface of the glass that they are pasted upon. So you can change the print if it does not meet with your specifications or if you get too bored looking at it. Alternatively, if you are vacating the premises, just peel the film, clean up any residual glue and the glass partition or door gets restored to its original state.
There are mainly four types of printed glass films that you can choose from. These films are categorised on the amount of transparency and the kind of look, they impart to the glass substrate they get pasted upon. At Orchid, we provide all four of the following kinds of solutions…
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Films for transparent glass printing:
If you want to display images on your glass panels, but do not want to restrict views from either side of the same, it is best to opt for prints on transparent glass films. As the name suggests, we stock an optically clear film for this application. The machines print the requisite images on an extremely clear film. This film is then pasted onto the glass panel. Since the film is optically clear, you can hardly differentiate between the printed film and the actual glass surface. The overall effect is as if, the image is directly printed on the glass. Transparent films are primarily used for branding glass facades or the frontage of commercial buildings. Let’s say you have a road facing showroom with a huge glass frontage. Add images of models or products to this frontage and the look of your showroom gets completely transformed.
Prints on transparent glass films are a little less vibrant than regular photo prints
There is one caveat to printing on clear films, which you need to be aware off. Since light passes through both the film as well as the images the vibrancy of the inks get reduced somewhat. The white area of the image is transparent. This is obvious because otherwise how would you see through the print. But since the printed image is also transparent, you can see objects or people moving on the other side of the printed area as well. One tends to lose some of the visual details of the print. This image loss can in no way be termed as an inferior print. In fact, it is an effect unique only to transparent prints.
But it might prove to be a surprise to architects or designers, who are new to the applications of transparent glass printing. They generally imagine that the finished job will look exactly as the artwork rendered on their computer screen. This is because, when they create their artwork, the same is fully opaque and viewed on a bright computer screen with very high contrast ratios. I recommend that when you design artwork for transparent glass printing add a little transparency to your objects. If you are using design software like CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, you can also insert another layer beneath your artwork. Put in visual cues like a room or people walking about, in this lower layer. And when they show through your semi-transparent artwork of the top layer, you’ll get an idea of what your final glass printing job will look like.
Translucent / frosted film for glass printing:
Sometimes an architect might want to brand a glass partition and at the same time needs to obscure what is happening on the other side. Frosted glass films printed with the company’s logo or product pictures provide a beautiful solution for this application. Printed frosted films as the name suggests, have a dusted or sand like effect. They are not transparent. But although you cannot see through them, light does pass through this film. Let us say that you have a transparent office partition behind the reception or entrance lobby of your office. You do not want the casual visitor to see what’s happening inside the office. At the same time you do not want to block natural light coming in through the partition. Print out your company’s logo on frosted film and paste it onto the glass partition. In one go, your interiors are spiffed up, and employee privacy is maintained. Also, and this is a big plus, the frosted film you have used, does not compromise on the light in your interior spaces. Have a look at the images below to see how great, prints on frosted films look.
Glass printing on one-way vision films
One way vision or mesh films are a unique solution to branding glass panels in offices and corporate interiors. These films allow vision to pass in one direction only. If you are standing on the printed side of the glass partition bearing this mesh film, you see the image, or the branding done on the glass. The guy standing on the other side can however, see through.
One way vision films are a boon to the boss’s cabin. The general staff cannot make out what is happening inside the office. But the boss sitting inside the office and behind the printed mesh film can see through and keep an eye on what is happening on the other side of the glass partition. Exactly how this effect is achieved is explained in another, more detailed blog. Please click here, to jump to the same.
Opaque films for glass partitions and windows
If you need to block vision and light entirely, you can opt for opaque glass films. We print on self-adhesive vinyls and laminate the same. These vinyls are then pasted onto the glass to make it completely opaque. The good think about this solution, is that you get an extremely high resolution and vibrant print on your glass panel. On the other hand, you end up with a dull and boring white surface on the back the glass panel. If budgets are not a constraint, you can simply opt for two prints and have them pasted on both the surfaces of the glass panel. Please click on this link to read about more details on vinyl printing.
Reverse pasting of glass printing film
As a general practice, most printed films are pasted on the top or front surface of the glass. But many a times, the customer asks for an option wherein the film is pasted from behind the sheet of glass. In this scenario, while viewing the image from the front, the glass come first and the print afterwards.
In top pasting, you are looking only at the print. The actual glass panel is covered. But in reverse pasted glass films, the gum / adhesive is right on top of the print. This enables pasting on the inside or back surface of the glass partition. A familiar example of this application is the parking stickers or permits used in cars. These stickers are pasted from inside the windscreen of cars. The advantage of using reverse printable film is that you get that glossy / glassy finish in the front. The overall effect is somewhat like back painted glass.
Direct printing on glass
We can print directly onto sheets of glass. We have a flatbed UV machine for doing that. But the size of glass panel that can be printed is limited to the size of the machine. Currently our machine takes glass panels of 2 feet by 3 feet in size. Do click on this link to check out more options about UV printing.
Tiling of large sized glass prints
As mentioned earlier, glass printing films are available in rolls having 3, 4 and 5 feet width. Most doors or partitions are no wider than 5 feet. So, they can be easily covered by one continuous print. But there are certain cases where the glass area to be covered is much larger. We have images spanning shop fronts are easily 20 – 50 feet wide. In such cases we break the image up in tiles of four feet width. Each tile is printed and pasted separately onto the glass frontage. But when these tiles are joined together, they form a cohesive whole.
Prices of various types of glass prints:
Given below are the prices of the various types of glass printing films described above. The prices shown here are for printing only. Most architects / interior designers get the subsequent pasting done by their own team of employees. But if you need support in getting the film passed at your premises, do call or write to us and we will get back to you with an estimate for the same…
|Type of printable film for glass||Effect on transparency||Cost per square foot|
|Opaque photo vinyl||Light does not shine through. No visibility from either side||60/-|
|Frosted / Translucent frosted film||Diffused light will pass through But you cannot see whats on the other side||70/-|
|Transparent film||Will not obstruct light Visibility from both sides of the glass pane||70/-|
|One way vision / mesh filmOne way vision / mesh film||Acts as a privacy panel. People sitting on the inside can see through the glass pane, whereas people on the outside will see the branded image||60/-|
|Reverse pasting film||Print happens on the gumming side. Ideal for car parking stickers, which have to be pasted from within the wind screen||100/-|
|Frosted film as an alternative to glass etching||We do not print on this film, but can cut out your logos and designs on the same||We need to check your artwork before we can quote for this|