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I'm looking for a service bureau that can print directly on museum quality glass. I am not sure what the method/process used for this is. Is this done with an inkjet printer? What color space is used? Is it RGB or CMYK? Is it printed on the surface of the glass or is it molecularly bonded similarly to a print on aluminum? I know it can be done, but I'm having trouble finding any specifics.

  • Can you show us an example? There are various ways it COULD be done... – Digital Lightcraft Sep 16 '15 at 7:40
  • Example? If I had an example I would know where to have it done... Maybe I don't understand your request. – Limbic System Photoworks Sep 17 '15 at 17:04
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    Thats the problem, you are asking how it is done, but cant provide an example, there are many ways it COULD be done. It could be solvent inkjet, water-based inkjet on a clear base, it could be silk screen, it could even be some inkjet process that sprays coloured glaze onto the glass which is then put in a kiln... – Digital Lightcraft Sep 17 '15 at 19:07
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Museum-quality glass isn't much of a specification. For ripple-free, parallel surface sides; specify "float" glass. There are a variety of surface coatings available for control of reflections and limiting ultraviolet transmissions that would fade dyes and pigments regardless of how stable their colorants. Specify those as desired in addition to the quality of the glass and composition (i.e. lead, flint, etc.)

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Colour space information is not useful in this instance because every printing machine will have its own assigned colour space. Some machines will not be able to accept colour space changes and some machines will only be able to use wide gamut or CIE specified colour space specifications. Potentially, you could specify any one from a hundred different colour spaces.

The range of inks which are to be used for printing onto glass are very likely to be highly specialised. They will possibly have to contain acrylic or ceramic components; to help them adhere to the glass and thus they will be able to dry completely within days rather than taking several weeks.

RGB colours are not able to be specified on any printer whatsoever, regardless of whether the printing mechanism uses inkjet, laser or dye sublimation to transfer the image. The RGB colour gamut is merely the transilluminated colours which can only be seen on a monitor... as a representation of an available colour gamut. Some printers appear to let you state that they should print in RGB colours. The printer will internally change the ink colours which you see on your monitor; to the CMYK colour gamut which can be printed.

At the point where you wish to print what you can see on a monitor, you have no choice but to soft-proof the image (which shows you how the CMYK colour gamut would represent your screen image) and then print in the specified CMYK gamut; providing you are happy with how the soft-proof represents the RGB colour gamut showing on your monitor.

It is probable that there are many ways to print onto glass and you could look at Google for a rundown on techniques and prices. There may be an agency who could do this kind of work for you. My quick assessment of the readily available Google information, demonstrates that the equipment is complex, frequently bespoke and very expensive. Not being an expert in this type of printing, I can only refer you to the single link below which underpins the complexity of the task you have asked about.

Hope this helps

http://www.tecglassdigital.com/en/

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There's a YouTube video entitled How to print photo on glass that may be helpful. It demonstrates a process whereby the glass is first coated with a 2-part transparent primer, printed in a flatbed inkjet printer that has adjustable head height. Colors are printed first, followed by a solid white layer. The primer components are shown at the very beginning of the video and are labeled UVC-01004 and UVC-01005. The printer appears to have a very bright lamp built into the printhead, so it's a good guess that it uses some kind of UV-cured inks.

It's not clear whether the process in the video uses real glass or "acrylic glass," which is what most of the "glass print" services seem to offer. Some services do appear to print on real glass, or at least they don't mention anywhere that the material is acrylic. Two that popped up in a quick search are fractureme.com and imageonglass.com. The latter site does mention a UV-cured process, so it's possible that theirs is similar to that shown in the video linked above.

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