Glass Printing Technology | Memories Brilliantly Preserved | The Glass Age | Corning

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Design & Application

Design & Application

Memories Brilliantly Preserved

Memories Brilliantly Preserved

With glass as a printing medium, priceless photographs find a whole new look – and one that lasts without fading

New formulations of tough, thin glass are proving to be the ideal surface for showcasing digital photographs.

Commercial photographers and amateur shutterbugs alike are scoring a triple play of advantages when they forgo traditional photographic papers and have their digital images printed on glass instead.

  • For starters, the ink-jet printing process is well-suited to use on new formulations of tough, thin specialty glass. The colorfast image is applied to the back of the durable frame with UV-cured inks, and the optical brilliance of glass makes colors sparkle – whether the vibrant turquoise of vacation seas or the demure pastels of a bridal bouquet.
  • Second, the images have remarkable staying power. The non-porous surface of the glass means vivid colors don’t fade or stain like paper-printed photos after prolonged exposure to light, high temperatures, and humidity. And because the image is actually printed on the back of the durable glass, it’s permanently protected from scratches and abrasions.
  • Lastly, a photo printed on glass gives an entirely new experience to everyone admiring it. Because the glass substrate is thin, lightweight, and durable with smooth edges, it’s easy to handle. The image seems to rise to the surface of the protective glass, and the smooth, silky surface invites touch. And there’s no need for a frame, so the image becomes inherently more personal and relatable.

With the right materials, the process of printing photos on glass is simple enough to be done cost-effectively and in large volume if needed.

The process begins with a sheet of damage-resistant Corning® Gorilla® Glass – you can choose a glossy or matte finish. A thin-film primer prepares the surface for the inks to adhere to the glass. Then the inkjet print head quickly and precisely applies the ink directly onto the prepared glass substrate.

A third thin layer – an anti-splinter film – protects the inked image and also prevents the glass from emitting shards in the unlikely event it happens to break.

Some leaders in the photo industry believe this new process could be a game-changer for the way people print and preserve photos.

Image-testing expert Henry Wilhelm recently said this about Corning’s MASTERPIX™ prints: “In terms of overall physical stability, these prints may well be the most durable, longest-lasting color photographs ever available in the consumer market.“        

Consumers are always looking for ways to preserve special memories of holidays, vacations, and other family moments, so the appeal of long-lasting, colorfast glass prints is clear. But plenty of other creative professionals are starting to use glass-printed images, too.

  • Professional photographers and fine-art printers are exploring glass prints as museum-quality prints, both for gallery exhibits and as portfolios of their own work.
  • Businesses are using the process as a way to produce distinctive, lasting recognition gifts to employees or partners at a cost-effective price.
  • Architectural designers favor glass-printed photographs in stylish interiors, like hotel lobbies and elevators, where the lightweight, damage resistant glass makes a practical, beautiful aesthetic statement.

With all these potential applications, photos printed on glass could soon be representing yet another way the world is going paperless.