Digital ceramic printing began in 2007 but it was not until 2017 that it took off and became popular. The transition from traditional to digital printing ceramic is happening gradually since many of the speed, affordability and compliance requirements are now being met.
The process for digitally printing ceramic is a contactless (very important to avoid tile breakage) solution that involves fussing the inks into the glass after printing by firing, so it is some sort of a curing process. This is why the inks are able to adhere in a more permanent way than when printing tiles by using UV-curing inks.
With this technique you can print directly on glass, metal and other smooth surfaces if they have a coating so the ink does not spread out.
Since the prince difference between traditional printing and digital printing ceramic it makes digital printing worth considering.
Ceramic printing with digital printers has many benefits and some of them include these:
- Faster setup
- Optimized workflow that requires less hardware and labor needs
- Superior quality and accuracy
- Creation of effects such as 3D, relief effect or light oil
- More versatile, since it allows to produce batches with individual tile designs
- Ability to mix colors, glazes, and effects
- Minimization of repeat patterns
The Green Factor
Aside the mention advantages above, there are some that play an important role in preserving the environment by contributing with a greener option.
- Requirement for environmental certifications: this mostly applies to building construction and the materials used for this, for example: ceramic tiles, floors, glass, etc.
- Less Wastage: digital ceramic printing does not require water in its process, so no waste water pollution.
- Reduced ink use: the amount of ink needed is computer controlled, so less ink waste in the process.
- Preservation of limited natural resources: since digital ceramic ink printing is able to reproduce many natural textures such as marble, stone, and many others. So there is no need to exploit the Earth’s limited natural resources to achieve this look. Plus, the printed replicas are more durable and resistant than the originals, since the ink is baked into the material, so no need to worry about weather, chemicals, or scratching.
- Recyclable material: digitally printed ceramic can be handled and disposed through standard recycling methods.
- No heavy metals: you can use inks that are free of toxic metals to digitally print ceramic, such as cadmium or lead.
As you can see, there are many advantages of using digital printing for ceramics, it is a very versatile method and there are many environmentally friendly reasons to choose this technology.