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Commercial Architecture Magazine

When it comes to creating unique signature designs, architects and interior designers can explore endless opportunities with direct-to-glass digital ceramic printing. According to Stephen Balik, director of architectural sales and marketing, GGI, Secaucus, NJ (, almost any design can be created and reproduce on virtually any type of glass and glass configuration, including tempered, laminated, insulated, and bent glass.

Creative, elaborate, beautiful designs are produced using ceramic frit paint that is digitally jetted onto the surface of the glass, then fused into the glass during the tempering process. The result is a durable, decorative, and functional glass solution that can be used for exterior and interior applications.

Direct-to-glass printing offers several important benefits over traditional silk-screen printing and printed interlayers, Balik said. Among these are:

• High durability. Ceramic frit is fused into the glass creating a permanent design; images are UV-, fade-, and scratch-resistant—suitable for any interior or exterior application and ideal for public art displays.

• Digital files. No screens, setup, or storage fees are needed; variable data and unique panel sizes and shapes are easily incorporated into the design; files are saved electronically and can easily be accessed and reprinted at any time.

• High-resolution printing. Suitable for producing fine lines, typography, and complex images; useful for reproducing photographs, artwork adaptation, and material imitation.

• Precision processing and printing. Images can be printed in layers, creating different views on each side of the glass; single images can be tiled across entire facades and walls, with accurate alignment between panes; the layering of three or more designs is also doable, adding more dimension to the design.

• Insulated for greater functionality. Direct-to-glass printing can be incorporated into insulated glass units for building facades, with a high-performance low-e on the outboard lite for energy-efficiency, or fire-rated and other protective glazings on the inboard as needed to meet fire-safety or impact code requirements.

The following projects illustrate the direct-to-glass printing technique.

The Vermont Hotel Staircase, Los Angeles

Artist Cliff Garten worked with Jerde Partnership to ensure the artwork on this unique staircase would complement the “Heart of Compassion” public art display suspended over the entrance of The Vermont Hotel. The staircase consists of 1-in. thick tempered, laminated, low-iron glass panels on each side, with an intricate design digitally printed on each panel using ceramic frit paint. This illustrates the strength and visual unity that integrates the art and architecture as the staircase flows throughout the building.