CERAMIC DIGITAL PRINTING

Our Ceramic Digital Transfer printing service produces custom decals for firing in the surface decorating in the ceramic industry. One off transfer sheets can be printed at a low cost taking away the setup costs and larger print runs usually associated with traditional silk screen printing.


Digital Printing opens the door for start up ceramic designers and students alike who may not have a large budget to have their work printed and produced without having to commit to large runs and costs.  The process is also ideal for sampling and prototyping where quick production turnaround allows alterations to be quickly amended and also having a finished fired product to view in hand to evaluate.


For main or larger production runs we would always recommend using our silk screen printing service as this method gives far more consistency, better colour matching and better economies of scale on pricing.

As with any manufacturing process there are pros and cons, we aim to be transparent with our advice and offer our experience and expertise to make sure a full understanding of the service limitations are explained.


Pros


- No minimum order run.

- High graphic resolution 100% dot can be produced ideal for photographic type artwork.

- Reduction in time and costs for small run production.

- The transfers can be fired onto a wide variety of ceramic, enamel and glass surfaces with firing temperatures ranging from 780 - 950 degrees (guidelines only)

- Quick sampling and prototyping time.

- Fired transfers are fade and UV Resistant to give high durability.



Cons


- Only CMYK colours can be printed.

- Pantone colours cannot be matched 100% only a true representation.

- Inconsistency of reprinting the same files over a period of time.

- Large solid colour areas look saturated and blemishes are prone to show.

- Only A3 size sheets can be printed not any larger or smaller formats.

The Printing Process


Digital printing uses the four colour process colour printing process (CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) these colours can produce over 900 full tones and half tones of colour. The four ceramic powders are fed into separate hoppers inside the printing machine, these powders are pulled down through the machine at different rates into developing tanks containing a mixture of colour and magnetic developer, from the units the colour is dispersed directly onto a special fotocal paper over a cylindrical drum depicting the design and colouration sent from a computer to a inbuilt Rip within the machine, each of the four colours are printed and within a minute a finished printed sheet is fed out the machine.

The flow rate of the colour being pulled through the machine leads to the downside of digital printing, its Limitations and Repeatability (see below). 


Once printed a fluxed cover coat is silk screen printed over the top of the sheet which acts as a carrier for the colour keeping it stable and intact for the decoration process. Our cover coat is fluxed which allows for higher gloss finishes on harder glazes but also protects the colour for higher firings for all glazes.


Limitations


In any ceramic printing, silk screen or digital there is not a true magenta colour so this makes colour matching very tricky and unpredictable as certain colours can also change in the firing process, computer screen artwork will always look different to printed sheets aswell.  We have developed our own unique digital printing profile which enables us to push the limitations we are faced with to try and achieve a colour match to your artwork.


With digital using the CMYK colours we therefore cannot guarantee the matching of any specific pantone colours. Large areas of solid colours will look weaker and saturated compared to silk screen printing and will be prone to printing blemishes.


Repeat orders and Printing


For repeat orders we cannot guarantee matching 100% what was printed previously as the nature of the printing process does not allow us total control of colour flow day to day week to week. Colour we use is also brought in batches which can  offer a variant over time from our suppliers.


For consistency of production runs this is where again we would recommend our silk screen printing process as previous printings can be matched time and time again.