Glass used in glazing typically comprises a glass sheet, a pane, of the required dimension with a first and second surface. Both of these surfaces are substantially plane and substantially parallel to each other. Such a pane yields a uninterrupted view through. The view may have a slight colour cast which is dependent upon the body colour of the glass which is often greenish. Low iron glass varieties do not have such a tint.
To achieve a decorative effect, privacy or branding, glass is sometimes etched. One means of etching glass is with the application of a chemical such as hydrogen fluoride. Such a chemical will modify the plane nature of the glazed surface to which it’s applied imparting a finish that tends toward structured, micro-crystals when observed at high magnification. This finish obstructs the clear view and yet admits light and contrasts dramatically with surrounding unmodified areas.
Glass can be etched mechanically too. The most popular means of mechanically etching glass is with an abrasive medium, such as aluminium oxide or garnet, blasted at great speed using compressed air through a suitable stencil. This imparts an effect similar to that achieved by chemical etching and, like chemically etched glass, the effect is permanent.
Both sandblasting and chemical etching are difficult and disruptive in their application to installed glass in situ. The permanent nature of the application is sometimes not desired. Some studies indicate that mechanical modification of glass can be the source of weaknesses and stress concentrations sometimes causing cracks to propagate.
Contemporary etch effects are achieved using the application of an etch effect film so creating Etch Effect Window Graphics. An etch effect film is typically self adhesive and is simply cut, using a computer driven cutting plotter, to the shapes required, which are then applied to the glass. The effect is dramatic, barely distinguishable from etched or blasted markings and can be removed when required.
Etch effect films are available in considerable variety each imparting its own effect to Etch Effect Window Graphics. For example, films are available with inclusions in the mass of the material that sparkle in direct light. Films are also available in that impart a slight colour. More recently, films that are receptive to print have been introduced. These films can be used to achieve ambient effects supporting brands or purely for the decorative benefits Etch Effect Window graphics deliver.
Etch effect films can be used in concert with other self-adhesive media to create highly detailed window graphics that are both attractive and functional. Etch effects used in interiors, on panels in partition structures for example, achieve a degree of privacy and are valued for their decorative effects too.