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Industry Solutions
Application Solutions

Glass Decorating Applications 


Glass and ceramic decorators – the makers of beverage bottles, drinkware, mirrors and flat glass, packaging for cosmetics, perfume and personal care products – want the advantages that plastic decorators enjoy: the ability to directly print multiple colors at high speed, in any color, free of heavy metals, using quick, simple, low-cost curing. 
The latest regulations restricting the use of inorganic inks containing heavy metals (EU packaging directive 94/62/EC), along with rising energy costs have increased the urgency to find better solutions for glass decorating.


Click here to see which of our products are most highly suited to glass decorating applications.  

Existing Decorating Options 

Typically, decorative indicia are applied to glass using paper labels, decals, or a process known as applied ceramic labeling (ACL). ACL involves first printing the glass with an ink composition that may contain various heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and chromium, then bonding the ink to the glass by baking in a lehr oven at temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit or more for several hours. 


Glass Decorating Comparisons


   Paper Labels   Decals   ACL  UV Inks 
Cost  Low  High  Medium  Medium 
High End Look  Poor  Poor  Good  Excellent 
Water Resistance  Poor  Poor  Excellent  Good 
Abrasion Resistance  Poor  Poor  Excellent  Good 
Chemical Resistance  Poor  Poor  Medium  Excellent 
Energy Costs  Low  Low  High  Low 
Environmental Concerns  None  Recycling
Heavy Metals

UV Ink Solutions Available 

Several manufacturers have introduced UV curable inks as a solution. Glass and ceramic decoration requires inks with high adhesion, scratch resistance and water resistance. For example, cosmetic containers need resistance to alcohol and essential oils, while beer and soft-drink containers need resistance to water, and drinking ware needs resistance to dishwashing. The new UV inks meet all of these performance requirements plus deliver the following benefits: 

  • No solvents 
  • No heavy metals 
  • No evaporation during cure 
  • Color matching is much easier 
  • Virtually any color is possible 
  • Better print definition 

UV Glass Decorating Inks 


Details on UV glass decorating inks made by the following suppliers are available here 

  • Coates Screen – Crystal GLS™ 
  • Ferro – SpecTruLite™ 
  • Fluorital Italy – UV420 
  • Marabu – Ultraglass UVGO 
  • RevTech – Envirogluv™ 
  • Ruco Inks – 935 UV 

Glass Decorating Machines Available 


The glass decorating machines listed below meet the increasingly stringent rules and regulations that eliminate heavy metals used in enamels. The UV curable ink system saves space because of the elimination of the lehr. In addition, production can commence any time of the day without having to preheat for an hour or unload the oven, which is a requirement with a lehr.  The result is saving both time and more. 

  • Kammann 
  • OMSO North America Inc. 
  • Rosario 

For more details on glass decorating machines, click here. 

Retrofits to Existing Decorating Machines 

Several of the current commercial lines retrofitted their existing decorating machines with UV cure stations instead of installing new machines. While this is less costly, this reduces the number of screen print stations available and the line speeds possible. In a typical retrofit, a screen print station must be replaced with a UV curing station because there simply is no room to fit the UV curing stations between the existing print stations. So the result is that a two color decorating line becomes a single color line, and a four color line becomes a two color line. The limiting factor for line speeds in a retrofit scenario becomes how fast the ink can be applied. So although a new machine requires additional initial cost, the machine can print and cure any desired number of colors and can run at higher speeds.

1. Koch, George, Chadwick, Robert, "A New "Cure" for Screen Printing", Ceramic Industry, Sept. 2001, p.39.
2. Koch, George, "UV Curable Inks for the Decoration of Glass and Ceramics", Ruco Inks prepared presentation for Society of Glass & Ceramic Decorators, Glass and Ceramic Decorating Seminar, Arlington, VA, October, 2001.
3. Koch, George, Chadwick, Robert, "A New "Cure" for Screen Printing", Ceramic Industry, Sept. 2001, p.40.

Contact us if you would like more information or have specific questions.

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