What is it?

The standard process to print glassware is to use a direct printing method in which we print a frit-based ink or enamel onto the glass.  Then we bring the glass up to near the melting point where the frit becomes molten and fuses to the outside of the glass.  This makes the image dishwasher-resistant and scratch-resistant.  The transfer method ends up at the same place with a highly durable print as direct printing, however, it is just a different method for applying the frit based ink to the glass.  Instead of printing directly, we print the image onto a flat release sheet.  This allows us to run several images at once and is especially good when multicolour images are used, as the registration is more consistent than the conventional method. 

The image on the transfer is coated with a type of plastic, so at this point, it looks like a sticker or decal. It then is dipped in water which allows the plastic to release from the specially designed paper along with the printed image.  It is then applied to the glass and the water is wiped away leaving the decal on the glass.  The glass is placed on a conveyor belt in an oven referred to as a Lehr.  As it travels into the oven, it reaches initially about 600º where the plastic evaporates leaving behind the frit ink. At this point, the direct method and the transfer method are the same, with the frit ink only on the surface of the glass.  It continues into the oven rising to 1150º F which is just under the threshold where the glass would melt.  The frit ink becomes molten, and fuses to the glass. 

Both methods are the same in the end.  The advantage to the decal/transfer method is that the printing process is a bit faster, and being a flat sheet, the multiple colours register better.  This process is usually only used on multicolour jobs, or orders where the glass is irregularly shaped and can not be printed directly.  

The additional advantages are that once we have the transfers in sheet form, we can apply those transfers to any shaped glass or ceramic item that they will fit on and you pay EQP one colour pricing.  

But the best advantage with transfers is that there is no setup charge beyond the initial printing when ordering glassware, and they can be used on a variety of sizes and types.  You can order as little as one case and you get EQP one colour pricing.  Therefore you don’t need to inventory large amounts of glass at a time just to get a good price on the printing/decorating. Without a transfer program, the setup charges are charged every time you reorder, as we need to run film, burn screens, Setup the machines, print, clean up etc. each time, whereas with a transfer program it is only charged for that initial run when we print the transfers and isn’t charged whenever you use them until they are used up. 

So why don’t we use transfers all the time?  There are some considerations when using this program in that the transfers must be paid for upfront.  We charge for the transfers and guarantee that you will get the amount of transfers that you pay for. They can be used over a few years or more.  The more transfers that are ordered, the cheaper it becomes. Usually, we suggest at least 1000 transfers, and for heavier more frequent users, at least 2500.  For one-colour images, it is cheaper to print directly, therefore there is no real advantage to a transfer program. 

The savings on using a transfer program is primarily in the future setup charges per order, and about 40% on additional colours if the appropriate volume is ordered.  In addition, on orders, you can use the transfers on a variety of products, and you can order as little as one case at a time. Any time you use transfers, you can get 2 or 3 or 4 colours and more all charged at the one colour EQP price after the transfers are paid for. However, remember that transfers must be paid for upfront.


If you were ordering 72 units of a C Handle mug in 3 colours, your costs would be:


3 Setup charges at $80.00(g)

Mug with 1st colour – $9.29 (c) 

Two additional colours @ $1.80 (C)

Total based on 72 mugs =   $240(G) SETUPS +  $668.88 =  $908.88 Including setups=$12.62/ mug – Lehr Fired 3 colours


Purchase  1000 transfers 3 colours up front  @ $2.08 (C)  PLUS 3 SETUPS @ $80.00(G)= $2340.00

Initial and future purchases:

No Setup Charges on any  volume by the case and on any product that the transfer will fit on

72 C Handle mugs with 3 colour transfer = $7.99 (c) + original transfer purchase @ $2.34  (c)= $10.33(c) =$743.76 (savings of  $165.12  or $18.2%)  and that’s just the first order.

Note: This savings are compounded over time, and the fact that you can choose several different items saves $240(g) on every item selection every time that you order. Over the course of using the transfers, the savings based on ordering 72 units each time would be $2293.00. – and you don’t have to order a large volume each time to get a good price, and you can order a variety of products without setups.

An additional example would be, that you want to have a gift donation for a golf tournament. You could order one case of beer mugs and there would be no setups and you could use the end quantity one colour price. That’s a crazy amount of savings on that tiny order.

If you have questions regarding the transfer program, please feel free to contact our office.