Adding flair and functionality to glass with digital printing

The Ryerson University building’s digitally printed glass makes a design statement, but there are many functional elements as well, not least of which is allowing daylighting and bird deterrence without sacrificing energy efficiency. Photos © Lorne Bridgeman

Digital printing contributes to the Energy and Atmosphere (EA) category by helping achieve the Minimum Energy Performance credit through a contribution to a reduction in the glass’ solar heat gain co-efficient (SHGC). Further, digital printing can contribute to the Innovation in Design (ID) category though the pilot credit, Bird Collision Deterrence.

In the case of the Ryerson building, the design was intended to meet high energy efficiency while maintaining the use of natural light. The combination of digital ceramic in-glass printing with a triple-glazed construction and low-e glass coating help to achieve the required functionality that included thermal comfort, glare control, bird safety, and sun/shade control. The glass makeup for the project, with Flynn as glazing subcontractor, included triple-insulating glass with digital printing on Surface #2 and the low-e coating on Surface #4.

There is a constant demand for new and diverse ways for architects and designers to express their client’s design intent on the façade of the buildings they are designing. Digital printing has emerged as a versatile and colourful addition to the supply of products that help to define this vision. Not only can multiple colours and design concepts be added with relative ease, but many performance aspects within the design of the façade—such as solar control and privacy—can also be fine-tuned through both settings on the printer itself and via available software features.

Digital printing is versatile enough to be used in interior and exterior applications, can be employed in combination with other architectural glass products, and has the durability of ceramic frit applications that have been utilized for years in architectural design. As more projects in Canada incorporate digital printing and prove the artistic and performance benefits, now is the time to become aware of the technology’s capabilities on building projects.


BrianSavageBrian Savage is a product manager with Viracon. He is a LEED Green Associate and has worked in the construction industry for 12 years. Savage has helped launch numerous new glass-related products at Viracon. He can be reached via e-mail at

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