THE NETHERLANDS, Amsterdam. At METS trade show 2015 Glasshape, the New Zealand-based glass specialist, introduced the superyacht industry to its newest offering, VisionInk. The allure of the product is to provide designers and naval architects with a legitimate alternative to heavy building materials and to function in a purely aesthetic capacity. speaks with Richard Duckworth, Glasshape’s head of marketing.

VisionInk is a product that reproduces high definition photorealistic images onto glass. “The technology is pretty incredible,” begins Duckworth. “A printer lays down a fine layer of ink on top of a sheet of glass, unlike printing on paper the ink does not absorb, then you pass it through a toughening furnace and the ink bonds to the glass.”

The ink used contains fragments of glass, which melt and bond with the sheet below during the heating process, resulting in the pigment becoming part of the glass rather than a party to it.

As a building material VisionInk may be an attractive prospect for the semi-custom and production markets. “Imagine you have a superyacht owner who has decided he wants a brick fire place and the naval architect is concerned about weight limitations,” continues Duckworth. [Office1]  VisionInk is compatible with Glassshape’s flagship DuraShield and TemperShield products and is extremely resilient to scratching, solvents, UV light and adverse weather conditions, as well as being 100 per cent recyclable.

The brick example is an extreme one, the beauty of bricks and mortar relies heavily on varying texture, a depth perception that VisionInk is unable to recreate. However, for other materials, such as marble, slates or rare native timbers, VisionInk is able to recreate an incredibly realistic rendition with all the additional weight savings. For semi-custom and production models this provides a degree of personalisation that is not always easy to obtain when considering the restraints put on space and weight.

As a genuine aesthetic VisionInk can be used for backlit art, partition walls and a wide variety of applications, the ability to curve the panels ensures its versatility. There is an ongoing movement towards hidden lighting, be it backlit panels or recessions, VisionInk lends itself naturally to this trend combining art and lighting with ease if so desired.

A central element of VisionInk’s allure is its durability. “The panels have been tested to 15 years without fading. The ink is likely to outlast the glass,” explains Duckworth. By retaining its colour over long periods of time VisionInk products are easy to replace if damaged. If one of four panels is damaged, another can easily be printed and fitted in its place with no variance in colour between the original panels and the newest addition.