Glass in the making

A behind-the-scenes look at decorative glass fabrication processes

In the May 2011 issue of Glass Magazine on Pages 19-28, we examined the various types of decorative glass products, their applications, and the options available in regards to customization and fabrication. Here, Glass Magazine provides a visual look at the decorative glass fabrication processes behind these beautiful products.

Patterned glass

This 10-millimeter Niagara Pattern Glass from Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich., will be used for frameless shower doors. Picture A shows the drilling operation in which the holes are drilled to receive hardware. Picture B shows the glass being flat edged; picture C, the finished product. Photos by Guardian Industries, www.guardian.com.

Digital ceramic frit

These photos demonstrate the digital application of ceramic frit, using M3 Glass Technologies' DecoTherm: a permanent process used to apply digital artwork to glass using colored ceramic frit inks that bond with the glass during tempering. In picture A, a DecoTherm ceramic frit image is printed on special transfer paper. Picture B shows the transfer of the ceramic frit image to the glass. Picture C shows a DecoTherm ceramic frit image that has been applied to the glass and is ready to be tempered. Photos by M3 Glass Technologies, Irving, Texas, www.m3glass.com.

Sandblasted glass

A glass technician carves a logo onto the surface of a custom laminated glass panel. The glass is first covered with pressure-resistant vinyl similar to contact paper. Then, certain portions of the logo are peeled out and carved while the covered areas remain protected. Picture B shows an example of a finished, sandblasted product. Photos by Classic Glass Inc., with locations in Alexandria, Va., and Bladensburg, Md., www.classicglassinc.com.

Laminated decorative glass

A look at the laminated decorative glass operations of Lami Glass Products, Burnaby, British Columbia, a division of Hartung Glass Industries. In picture A, vinyl interlayer is applied in the controlled environment of the layup clean room. Technicians wearing protective clothing inspect each piece, and when necessary, use an anti-static roller to ensure that there isn't any foreign debris such as lint or hair on the vinyl before the matching lite is washed and paired up. In picture B, technicians ensure that the edges of the glass are properly aligned before trimming the vinyl and putting the laminated lite in the tacking oven prior to the autoclave. Picture C shows the tacking oven, which heats the vinyl enough so that it becomes tacky while top and bottom rollers squeeze out the air. Glass lites cannot be taken apart after this process, but they are not yet fully laminated. Picture D shows a laminated glass autoclave with a full load. The glass is laminated vertically with a specific amount of space between each piece to allow for the necessary pressure between the lites. Photos by Lami Glass Products, www.lamiglass.ca.

Digital art

Picture A offers a sneak peek inside the clean room of General Glass International, home to the Dip Tech GlassJet direct-on-glass digital printer that GGI has dubbed "Alice." The direct-to-glass technology allows any design to be permanently printed on glass in a variety of ceramic ink colors and opacities. Picture B is an example of how this digitally printed glass can be incorporated into a commercial building fa├žade. Photos by General Glass International, Secaucus, N.J., www.generalglass.com.

Painted/Back painted glass

Gardner Glass Products, North Wilkesboro, N.C., relies on a two-coat, heat-cured process and proprietary paint technology to create its Dreamwalls Color Glass products. Picture A shows the cleaned glass as it is sent through the curtain coater, which applies the paint to the glass in a uniform thickness. In picture B, the glass travels through the oven to cure the paint for durability. In picture C, the final glass lite is inspected, cleaned and separated using, in this case, cork tabs. Photos by Gardner Glass Products, www.gardnerglass.com.