By Olivia Cahoon
Digital print technology allows glass to be directly printed for fast and resilient graphics. Several industries including commercial, residential, and transit stations seek images printed on glass for a clean, durable, and professional look.
Recently, Nike took advantage of this technology when it approached a print provider to create opaque decorative glass for the expansion of its world headquarters.
Moon Shadow Glass
Founded in 1978, Moon Shadow Glass, based in Sandy, OR, is known for its high-quality decorative glass solutions, customer service, and timely delivery. The print shop’s motto is “if it can be done with glass, we can do it.”
Moon Shadow Glass began with one employee in a 400 square foot garage serving the Northwest U.S. The company originally offered screenprinting but evolved to etched, photo etched, direct print, grooved, and laminated decorative glass offerings. Today, with ten employees, the company distributes glass worldwide from an 8,500 square foot facility.
The company serves the commercial, signage, and residential industries. Some of its clients include the Oregon Zoo, TriMet—the local transit line, and the University of Oregon. It accepts orders as small as 6×6 inches and as large as 60×130 inches. The finished glass work is crated in house for shipment or onsite delivery to ensure safety.
Graphics to Glass
12 years ago, Moon Shadow Glass first saw laminated printed glass, mostly frit style, at the biannual Glasstec in Germany. Frit ink is composed of superfine ground glass applied to substrates at high temperatures. It produces a clear image on one side.
In 2012, the shop started to create printed, laminated glass. Moon Shadow Glass originally used an EFI VUTEk H650 printer. After receiving a large job for the Elephant Land exhibit at the Oregon Zoo, the shop decided to upgrade. It now uses a 65-inch EFI H1625 LED printer with white ink.
“Digital offers another option to do our decorative glass lines where we can do color fills on etched glass, direct printed panel, and two-sided printing. It is now about 50 percent of our business,” explains Tim Frasier, president, Moon Shadow Glass. “The nice thing about digital is that we get full four-color prints, double sided, at high resolution,” he adds.
Laminated glass is used for restaurant tabletops, office partitions, and space dividers. Architects, designers, contractors, and manufacturers seek decorative glass in the commercial space. Designs include surface etching, shading, surface beveling, and adding color. Surface beveling is completed by cutting and polishing grooves into the surface of thicker glass panels.
While decorative glass creates an elegant display, print providers may run into trouble if a workspace is not in pristine condition. “The main challenge is ensuring the glass is dust-, oil-, and scratch-free. We clean the glass multiple times to make sure we get a clear and perfected printed image,” shares Frasier.
In the last several years he says designers and architects have requested two-sided, high-resolution, full-color images with the ability to be completely opaque or semi-transparent.
Nike Seeks Glass
In April 2016, Moon Shadow Glass was approached by repeat client Nike, which sought decorative glass for its interior garage at the Nike World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, OR. The corporation requested glass graphics that were opaque but allowed light into its 1,200 parking space and four-story interior garage.
OldCastle Glass in Battle Ground, WA supplied the glass for the Nike project. Tools included the EFI H1625, Adobe Systems Incorporated Photoshop, and SA International’s FlexiSIGN RIP. “The EFI printer allowed us to print a two-sided image with semi-transparency in high resolution all in one pass,” explains Frasier.
After four months of fabrication and eight months of planning, Moon Shadow Glass printed 480 pieces of full-color laminated glass to create 8,000 square feet of wall murals. The graphics depict athletes and the Nike slogan and brand. Encore Glass in Salem, OR handled installation.
Despite the enormity of the project, the shop didn’t run into problems with the size of the graphics, but rather the shape. Frasier says the staff experienced challenges with the need for irregularly shaped cut glass, which was required to ensure the print was correctly aligned. The project was completed on time despite being on a much larger scale than Moon Shadow Glass’ average jobs.
Glass and Graphics
Glass signage is a practical and professional option for high-impact graphics. With the right technology, print providers print directly onto glass to offer double-sided, photo-realistic images.
May2017, Digital Output