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Digitally Printed Glass Adds Appeal to Manufacturing Plant

(October 2007) posted on Wed Oct 17, 2007


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Samsung approved the samples, and Austin Graphics set to work. The team had 15 days to produce the graphics for the grand opening of the Samsung building. The job required more than 75 sheets of PETG to be second-surface printed, as well as 26 pieces of 3⁄8-in. tempered glass measuring at least 60 in. wide by 118 in. tall, with some of the glass panels weighing up to 300 lb. The job also called for 16 pieces of glass with an etched appearance. The printed pieces would be installed in the facility’s locker room, smock room, and Level 3 and Level 4 clean rooms.

Each piece of glass had to be cleaned with vinegar and water prior to printing, and then cleaned again when loaded on the printer. It took five employees to lift each panel onto the QS2000. Pesnell says lifting the mirror panels onto the glass was especially challenging because the pieces were long and very flimsy. The team at Austin Graphics applied a bonding agent to each piece of glass to aid surface adhesion. The final step in preparing the panels was to apply Avery 3001 vinyl to the back of each piece of glass and PETG sheet. This step provided a consistent white background on all of the images (the paint on the wall at the Samsung facility was not consistent) and to protect the printed side of the glass panels during transport from Austin Graphics to the Samsung facility.

The staff at Austin Graphics worked three shifts per day to complete the print job within the allowed time. Pesnell says at any given time he had at least five employees, including the operator of the VUTEk QS2000, on this job. And not one of the glass or mirror panels was damaged during the preparation and printing process. Unfortunately, two of the panels were broken by the glass specialist during installation and had to be reprinted.

In addition to the challenges of cleaning and loading the heavy panels, the team had to ensure precise alignment of all the pieces. “We had just the right amount of bleed,” Pesnell says. “We had to bleed off the edge of the glass as they were butting up against each other. It was tricky trying to make sure we had the right amount of bleed.”

Other challenges included a language barrier between the folks at Austin and the originators of the project at Samsung’s office in Korea. Despite the trials they faced inside and outside of the production area at Austin Graphics, the project was a great success. “They [Samsung] were stunned. They could not believe how sharp, crisp, and accurate the images were. They were very impressed with it,” Pesnell says.

 


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