By Olivia Cahoon
Digital print technology allows glass to be directly printed for fast and resilient graphics. Several industries including commercial, residential, and transit stations seek images printed on glass for a clean, durable, and professional look.
Moon Shadow Glass
Founded in 1978, Moon Shadow Glass, based in Sandy, OR, is known for its high-quality decorative glass solutions, customer service, and timely delivery. The shop’s motto is “if it can be done with glass, we can do it.”
Moon Shadow Glass began with one employee in a 400 square foot garage serving the Northwest U.S. The company offered screenprinting but evolved to etched, photo etched, direct print, grooved, and laminated decorative glass offerings. Today, with ten employees, the company distributes glass worldwide from an 8,500 square foot facility.
It scans and plots client designs and offers creative help from an extensive print library highlighted in a showroom and digital database. Designs may be combined, altered, or augmented to fit a client’s needs. Moon Shadow Glass also works with designers to create original art to meet individual and corporate reseller demands. The shop’s computer graphic software allows it to generate custom stencils to reproduce photo-realistic designs onto a photo-sensitive medium applied directly to glass.
The company serves the commercial, signage, and residential industries. Some of its clients include the Oregon Zoo, TriMet—the local transit line, and the University of Oregon. It accepts orders as small as 6×6 inches and as large as 60×130 inches. The finished glass work is crated in house for shipment or onsite delivery to ensure safety.
Graphics to Glass
12 years ago, Moon Shadow Glass first saw laminated printed glass, mostly frit style, at the biannual Glasstec in Germany. Frit ink is composed of superfine ground glass applied to substrates at high temperatures. It produces a clear image on one side.
In 2012, the shop started to create printed, laminated glass. This consists of two or more sheets of glass laminated together with decorative inner layers of polyvinyl. Other materials used for the inner layer include wood, fabric, and metals.
Graphics and photographs may be printed on the inner layer to create unique signage solutions. The decorative process beings with glass printing, followed by lamination to another piece of glass. According to Tim Frasier, president, Moon Shadow Glass, this protects the image from damage and fading over time.
Moon Shadow Glass originally printed on glass using an EFI VUTEk H650 printer with a maximum width of 65 inches. After receiving a large job for the Elephant Land exhibit at the Oregon Zoo, which required life-sized glass murals of elephants, the shop decided to upgrade.
It now uses a 65-inch EFI H1625 LED printer with white ink. “Digital offers us another option for our decorative glass lines where we can do color fills on etched glass, direct printed panel, and two-sided printing. It is now about 50 percent of our overall business,” explains Frasier. “The nice thing about digital is that we get full four-color prints, double sided, at high resolution,” he continues.
Laminated glass is used for restaurant tabletops, office partitions, and space dividers. Architects, designers, contractors, and manufacturers seek decorative glass in the commercial space.
Transit stations also seek glass customization. One trend among transit shelter design is featuring community scenes. Moon Shadow Glass offers etched imagery into glass panels that comprise shelter walls. Etching includes transparent and opaque options. The decorative glass may be displayed at bus stations, dividers in waiting areas, rail stations, mural walls, and train stations.
As printed glass techniques improve, Frasier notices a shift in client demands. In the last several years he says designers and architects have requested two-sided, high-resolution, full-color images with the ability to be completely opaque or semi-transparent. “This allows different amounts of light through while still maintaining image quality,” he adds.
Nike Seeks Glass
In April 2016, Moon Shadow Glass was approached by repeat client Nike, which sought decorative glass for its interior garage at the Nike World Headquarters campus in Beaverton, OR. The corporation requested opaque glass graphics that allowed light into its 1,200 parking space and four-story interior garage.
OldCastle Glass in Battle Ground, WA supplied the glass for the Nike project. Tools included the EFI H1625 LED printer, Adobe Systems Incorporated Photoshop, and SA International’s FlexiSIGN RIP. “The EFI printer allowed us to print a two-sided image with semi-transparency in high resolution all in one pass,” explains Frasier.
After eight months of planning and four months of fabrication, Moon Shadow Glass printed 480 pieces of full-color laminated glass to create 8,000 square feet of wall murals. The graphics depict athletes and the Nike slogan and branding. Encore Glass in Salem, OR handled installation.
Despite the enormity of the project, the shop didn’t run into problems with the size of the graphics, but rather the shape. Frasier says the staff experienced challenges with the need for irregularly shaped cut glass, which was required to ensure the print was correctly aligned.
The project was completed on time despite being on a much larger scale than Moon Shadow Glass’ average jobs. “We received rave reviews from the local media, employees, and senior staff at Nike who commented how great and impressive the murals look,” shares Frasier.
Glass and Graphics
Glass signage is a practical and professional option for high-impact graphics. With the right technology, print providers directly print onto glass to offer double-sided, photo-realistic images.
Aug2017, Industrial Print Magazine