Koenig & Bauer partners with Marabu to pioneer digital printing on glass

Digital printing enables sophisticated designs and a high degree of personalization at low cost. Until recently, this process was not suitable for 3D decorations on standard glass products. Instead, a costly made-to-measure mould had to be created for each item to be printed. Now, Marabu (Tamm & Löhne, Germany) and OEM Koenig & Bauer (Würzburg, Germany) have joined forces to create a pioneering solution to this problem. It offers glass product manufacturers an attractive alternative to traditional embossing techniques – an innovative inkjet solution for relief printing on glass.

The manufacture of glass products with textured decorations conventionally requires a variety of preparatory steps prior to embossing. This process is associated with high-energy consumption and short production runs that are expensive. Each glass object to be given a textured, decorative finish must be made with its own dedicated mould to produce a suitable raised surface for the embossed decoration. Production is time-consuming and requires corresponding planning. However, embossing is not ideal for highly customized glass items, for which there is currently strong demand, such as in the perfume and beverage industries (i.e. wines, spirits and beer). Marabu and Koenig & Bauer have now developed an innovative inkjet solution that allows the direct printing of highly customized glass products of all kinds – from one-off items to large industrial-scale volumes – with excellent results. Contours, for instance, are far sharper than with conventional embossing. The precise single-pass application of multiple varnish layers is possible and produces extremely textured finishes. This is performed by printing systems from Koenig & Bauer’s Kammann K15 and K20 lines.

Koenig & Bauer Kammann K15

The method also permits large areas to be printed, including colour gradations, often required for brand logos. In addition, textured varnish finishes can be combined with coloured elements to produce striking visual effects. All printing process steps are seamlessly integrated into the K15 and K20 systems. Servomotors are employed to accurately position and move the object to be printed. This allows the raised decoration of glass products of any shape. The corresponding varnish was developed in close cooperation between Koenig & Bauer and Marabu to ensure it was perfectly tailored to the printing process. During the development stage, the corresponding decorations achieved excellent results for dishwasher resistance, and resistance to chemicals and abrasion, in line with applicable standards. This simple yet effective process is therefore a highly attractive alternative to conventional embossing.

Marabu’s new varnish was conceived especially for digital printing of textured decorations, in particular on glass substrates. The precise printing method allows designs of extremely sophisticated and elegant appearance on glass objects, such as perfume bottles, drinking glasses and beverage bottles. The number of layers can be varied in accordance with customer-specific needs. The use of this purpose-developed digital-printing varnish permits the creation of highly customised, personalized decorations without the need for dedicated moulds. Benefits include excellent contour sharpness, extremely fine textures and exact points, coloured and transparent designs, printing of convex and concave shapes, and rapid, simple adjustments during the printing process.

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