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GlassJet from DIP Tech

Direct-to-glass printer can handle up to 19-mm thick.

Big Picture

Imaging high-res digital images on uncoated glass has always been difficult. But DIP Tech, based in Israel, has succeeded with its GlassJet printer. The 9 x 12-ft flatbed printer armed with inkjet printheads can handle glass up to 19-mm thick.

The GlassJet was a collaboration between DIP Tech for the hardware, glass inks by Johnson Matthey, and expertise in the heat treatment of glass was provided by Tamglass. The GlassJet is leveraged for small to medium runs, including interior and exterior architecture; customized interior designs for corporations, retail stores, and consumers from appliances to furniture; and limited editions of original artwork. This technology also targets the auto repair and replacement market, since the glass printed by the GlassJet can be laminated and bent after printing.

Armed with 8, 12, or 16 Spectra printheads with 256 nozzles per head and imaging up to 360-dpi true resolution, the GlassJet uses solvent, pigment-based ceramic inks. While the GlassJet can print up to 5 colors simultaneously, the colors here are generally printed side-by-side instead of on top of each other, unlike wide-format inkjet printing. If inks need to be layered to produce the appropriate color, the glass must be dried between layers. Multiple colors can still be printed simultaneously (wet-on-wet), but will produce a marbled effect.

The workflow for the GlassJet is similar to typical inkjet printing: the digital image is processed through a RIP, digitally printed using inkjet printheads, and then dried-in this case with an IR dryer. Once dried, typical inkjet prints are complete, except for possible lamination or finishing. However, because of its ceramic inks, GlassJet-printed glass panels must then be heat-cured-as either flat laminated or bent laminated glass-in ovens at 530? to 700? C, a common procedure glass printing.

Limited to black, white, etch-like, and a limited number of spot colors, the GlassJet can't yet print in CMYK. Instead of using a Pantone-based color system, the glass industry uses the RAL color system, which has basic colors and provides users a chart to expand the color palette. End users mix the inks themselves to achieve the desired colors and shades.

Basic ceramic ink colors for the GlassJet are GJet blue, green, black, white, yellow, pink, orange, and etch. Onboard, inks are stored in 3 main ink tanks and 2 plug-and-play tanks housed on the head carriage. While using the GJet solvent inks, the company suggests that the room be ventilated eight times an hour.

Offering print speeds ranging from 538 to 1076 sq ft/hr at 360-dpi resolution, the GlassJet also offers wet-layer thickness control that impacts the final opacity of the ink, edge-to-edge printing, and accurate dot placement. It's equipped with a pneumatic loading system and unloading conveyor and can be operated by a single employee. Additionally, it can handle imaging variable-data elements such as logos and text.

US price: $400,000 to $500,000, depending on the configuration. US distributor is Custom Glass Machinery (www.customglassmachinery.com)


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