Residents of Hamburg, Germany, ride in style when they visit one of their local administrative buildings: The building’s elevator has been enclosed in printed glass as part of a recent renovation.

The stunning result was achieved with a new technology from Interpane-Sicherheitsglas of Germany, which enables digital drop-on-demand printing on glass – an adaptation of the printing on glass technology pioneered by Israeli DIP-Tech.

Creative freedom in glass design

Digital drop-on-demand ceramic printing on glass provides considerable creative freedom in a far more cost-efficient manner than earlier systems relying primarily on screens, factors that led early adaptors like Interpane to embrace the technology.

“Using Interpane’s advanced facilities, I had already used DIP-Tech’s GlassJet for a massive project that involved redesigning the exterior of a building using 295 different panels,” says glass production expert Bernd Hoffmann “It was easy to use and had all the features I needed to make such an undertaking a pleasure. After that, I knew this was the technology of the future and could barely wait to use it again.”

A splash of colour in the urban scene

The elevator project involved 40 glass panes in sizes of 450mmx2100mm up to 2400mmx2100mm, which were decorated with blades of tropical grass, an image strongly contrasting its urban environment. Each glass pane is decorated with a unique, individual part of the motif. The main colours are green, yellow and black mixed with white to control translucency.

The GlassJet can produce up to five colours in a single run, providing easy, quick production. All shades and tones of the original are digitally mixed directly on the substrate.

Hoffmann describes the process of designing such a complicated process as fairly straightforward. “The architect provided proofs on paper and transparent film, as well as NCS colour specifications and a part of the motif as a TIFF-file with a 30 dpi resolution,” he explains. “Thankfully, the GlassJet comes with Pixel-Blaster software, so even low-resolution images are easily processed. Remarkably, all the data fit onto one Disk-On-Key. We were able to print a multicoloured image without needing any rasterisation. This way, the grass design on glass could be realised without disturbing points and structures.”

Large-format, multitiled print made easy

The three lower floors of the elevator cabinet are made from laminated glass with ceramic digital printing on the inside. The four upper floors are made of 12mm toughened or tempered float glass with ceramic digital printing on the inside. The entire process allowed Hoffmann to compose 40 positions, letting him arrange a large-format picture without any deviations.

The main challenge Interpane had to deal with was that the two tiles for the doors were ordered four months later. The digital preparation and reliability of the GlassJet made quick work of that and the doors integrate seamlessly with the rest of the design.

“The GlassJet’s variable data feature allows large-format, multitiled print jobs using embedded tile numbers in the print files to allow an even workflow without any chance for mix-ups in installation,” says Hoffmann. “We embedded the numbers in the corners so only those involved in the actual installation would know they were there.”

Hoffman concludes: “The customer really appreciated the significant savings provided by the GlassJet. Unlike screens with cumbersome films, set up, cleaning and storage with all the associated expenses, the digital technology provided a hefty 20% reduction in costs.”