Printing on laminated glass, too good to be true

Last Update: 24.07.2017


After testing numerous printing surfaces (glass, glass + hairspray, glass + blue tape, glass + blue tape + ABS slurry, glass + Kapton, PCB + Kapton, glass + Kapton + ABS slurry... and many other combinations) I had a pleasant surprise with plain simple paper laminating plastic.


- it's cheap, it comes in A4 sheets. Split the pouch in two and you have two sheets.
- it's easy to apply. No water, no soap. Just gently heat up a solid bed and play with a roller.
- ABS pops quite easy below 70-80 degrees Celsius. Unlike Kapton....where it's sometimes hard to remove.
- extreme low lifting (on non-square parts; read below)
- good sticky glue to the glass. I used it for around 1kg ABS till it started to lift from the bed.

- it's still not a wonder material. That is, of the printed part has tensions (long straight lines), it will lift up. I'll try with mouse ears, this should help.
- it takes around 20min to apply a sheet. So...some pacience is required.
- "stick only once" on the glass. If it will be lifted by the force of ABS, the glue between glass and plastic is destroyed. Strange and unexpected behaviour.... Only option (not tested) is to "patch" the lifted area.

Below images will add more clarity.

No lift at a 80mm diameter round box. Remember: ROUND!

It is not "glass perfect" but it's amazing smooth, taking into consideration that it was the 20'th print or more on the same sheet. Printing surface at least acceptable.

And, may I remind you: it's an ordinary (half of) plastic used for laminating papers. Quite good adhesion of surface is clean and covered with ABS slurry.

This is how it looks the end of the laminated glass. The plastic is sticky only when hot.

And this is my DIY laminating roller. Smoothly squeezing the plastic and the glass together. Maybe in the future, I'll hack a laminating machine to accept glass thickness (speed and clearance will have to be adjusted)

In the end, I'm quite happy with this printing surface. CON's and PRO's, it goes on the PRO's side.

Note: it's better to gradually heat up the glass when applying the plastic. Otherwise, you will need to have a quick and swift move. If plastic is removed (due to the attempt to remove an air bubble), the quality of the stickiness is compromised.

Another note: allthough it looks cool, my roller, I noticed that a smooth sanded straight piece of glass is better for gradually pressing the plastic onto the heating  bed. Maybe a metal roller would be good but the heat transfer worries me and the fact that glass might break due to temperature gradient. So, keeping it simple, glass spatula works better.

Update 28 July 2015

  • Based on the number of successful prints, I still believe it's a good idea.
  • I replaced somehow the rubber roller with a metal spatula but it seems that using the both takes the best out of both solutions.
  • I successfully used it also with PLA printing. Just a little ABS slurry will do the trick.
  • One issue though: at some points, it makes an air bubble, "out of the blue". It might be a side reaction of a hotter area of the plate, I don't know.


Update 24 June 2017

  • It's been a couple of years since I'm printing only on "laminated" glass but only with PLA. It works...amazingly well and I only change the glass once a year. Eventually, the surface get's dammaged.
  • for ABS, I'm stuck with "perf board". A 4mm glass fiber reinforced PSB board with 2mm holes about 5mm apart. It works as a charm every time. Only con's is that I have to print on a layer or I have to sand down the "bumps" from the perfboard. But it's a price that I'm willing to pay, sometimes it even looks better with those bumps.


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