The Making of Translucent Glass

The Making of Translucent Glass

Translucent Glass

Translucent glass can be found all around the house. Glass doors and windows, lighting cup, drinkware, glass shelves and restroom accessories are all common examples of glass products which can be translucent.

The purpose of making some glass products translucent is that the glass will still transmit light while it causes sufficient diffusion to avoid perception of distinct images. In other words you still have the light but you can’t see through it. Bathroom windows and doors are good illustrations.

Translucent glass is also found since the result of some glass decoration techniques. Some glass doors can have wonderful translucent decorations and many glassware is etched to make translucent logo’s or any type of other form of personalization.

The two many well-known methods for making translucent cup are sandblasting and acid etching. Another method for etching of glasses is glass laser etching plus a relatively new method for making imprinted glassware is the use of a frosting glass paint which gives an etched effect.

What happens during the process of decoration is that the smooth glass surface is usually roughened. This roughened glass surface area scatters the light upon entering the glass. When entering clear cup the light finds no obstruction.


With sandblasting the glass surface area is bombarded with small contaminants made out of carborundum (the “sand”). This particular powder is propelled with high pressure air to the glass in high-speed and during the collision of the contaminants with the glass surface tiny items of glass are blasted away. It is also called “abbrasive sandblasting”. The result would be that the smooth surface roughens up and from transparent it becomes translucent.

Intended for sandblasting you need a compressor to create a high-speed air stream and the blasting by itself has to be done in a closed area. Either the operator has to ware a closed suite with air flow supply and do the work in a shut room or the sandblasting is done in the so called glovebox, where the operator appears outside a sealed container and where he/she can do the work by putting the hands in hand protection which are so arranged that the “sand” can’t come outside the container.

Acid etching

Acid etching is done simply by reaction of the glass surface with acid. The acid eats areas of the glass surface and roughens up the smooth glass surface.

The acids are hazardous not only upon contact but also the fumes are extremely toxic.

The acid can be within liquid form or are like a cream. Liquid is used for etching large surfaces, like a whole classic vase or a window. Etching creams great making designs on glass. The masking foil is used to cover the areas which must not be etched. (These hiding foils are also used with sandblasting. )

Acid etching is a great hobby plus, by using etching cream, also relatively safe to do at home. Ordinary pieces of glass can be turned into pieces of art.

Evaluating the result from sandblasting and acidity etching shows that sandblasting is much rougher. Acid etched glass has a smooth satin-like look and touch.

Glass Laser Etching

Laser etching is an interesting technique since you don’t have to make use of masking foils, chemicals or closed working areas.

The tool this is a machine. Inside the machine there is a CARBON DIOXIDE laser. The laser beam is directed through mirrors to the spot on the glass where the etching should be done. Heat of the laser blasts a part of the glass away leaving an imprinted mark. Driven by a computer the laser beam can be positioned everywhere for the glass surface and any images can in this way be etched on to the glass surface.

Glass laser beam etching is a powerful decoration method. With the help of a PC any picture, picture or logo can be prepared and the next step is to let the laserlight do the work. The tedious function you have to do with acid etching or sandblasting, by removing small parts from the masking foil for sensitive graphics, you don’t have to do with glass laser etching. So it safes a lot of time.

Frosting Glass Paint

Etching is really a nice decoration technique but not everybody is charmed of working with harmful chemicals or has the money to invest in machinery.

The paint companies happen to be able to make glass paints which give glass a frosted finish. The frosted look from the paints is also satin-like just like the result of acidity or laser etching.

Frosted cup made with frosting glass paints can be quite durable.
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When using the right frosting cup paint it is possible to use glass cleansers and solvents for removing oily finger marks or, in case of glasses, put them in the dish washer.

One more big advantage of frosting glass chemicals is that the paint can be clear plus colored. So in one step a definite transparent glass can be turned into a colored etched glass and logo’s and other images can be in multi-color.

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