Irlbacher ships industrial touch solutions from lot size 1

Bavarian glass expert prints digitally with mineral inks

Irlbacher’s new ceramic digital printing on glass – called IMPAdigital – is now offering an attractive possibility to boost the design of individual pieces and small series: Digitally printed mineral inks result in the same “look and feel” as screen-printed series products. In combination with the company’s own technology platforms IMPAled (LED-backlight surface-mount on glass), IMPAtouch (industrial touch solutions straight on the glass surface) and IMPAfeel (haptic elements engraved into the glass surface for “blind” operation), developers are given impressive design options – a unique position in a competitive market.

Hardly any other material can be used as versatile as glass. Its durability, aesthetics and easy moldability have led to sophisticated touch systems used to enhance countless products – from tablet PCs to industrial controls. In addition to all the functionalities, logos in bright colors are also important, as are brilliant backgrounds or IR-permeable, invisible windows for remote controls and communication interfaces.

Whenever possible, mineral paints are used

In digital printing, Irlbacher use the same UV-resistant, inorganic, ceramic inks as in screen printing for its serial products. These inks consist of glass frits (glass powder), pigments, metal oxides and organic solvents. The latter already evaporate during pre-drying at around 200° C. The remaining materials then irreversibly amalgamate with the carrier glass at over 650° C. The same time, the glass substrate is transformed into heat-strengthened glass (up to 2.5 mm material thickness) or toughened safety glass (from 3 mm material thickness).

If technically required, organic inks can be printed digitally as well. These contain polymer precursors (plastics) instead of glass frits. These paint systems are hardened by a combination of physical and chemical processes (drying, polymerization, triggered by heat or UV radiation). This creates an adhesive bond between paint and glass, which is reversible under certain conditions (delamination).

Ceramic or mineral ink systems should always be the first choice: they cannot delaminate, are much more temperature stable (300° C instead of 120° C), are ten times more resistant to scratching and are practically infinitely UV-resistant. As mineral inks permanently amalgamate with the carrier glass, ceramic-printed glass surfaces can easily be bonded in order to obtain housings compliant with IP68.

It goes without saying that all Irlbacher screen printing ink systems meet the requirements of the EC Regulation 1907/2006 (REACH) as well as the EU Directive 2011/65 (RoHS).

Irlbacher’s ceramic digital printing enables samples of touch systems with the same optical and technical characteristics of the series. The model in the picture is designed for harsh industrial environments. The touch front is glued over the full area and specified up to IP68. © Irlbacher