Travellers at Dublin Airport are greeted by blue skies before they even board their flights. The skies welcoming
them as they wend their way through the new Terminal 1 extension are translucent artworks on glass created by architect Susan Dunne.

The project was made possible by the Dublin Airport Authority’s (DAA) commitment to providing travellers with a
positive, welcoming experience, the vision of German glass manufacturer Flachglas Wernberg GmbH and DIP-Tech, the Israeli company that pioneered digital printing on glass.

“We are extremely sensitive to the needs of the more than 20 million passengers that pass through Dublin Airport
every year,” says Vincent Wall of the DAA. “We carefully evaluated how we could improve the travel experience of our
passengers. With this in mind, we launched a €2 billion initiative to provide new and improved facilities.”

A challenging design

An architect with experience in airport design, Dunne created an ambitious design for the terminal extension that
presented significant challenges, particularly with regard to the expense and logistics of the grand glass frontage and roof. It required 418 glass panels of varying sizes, up to 1800mmx2900mm, that had to flow together seamlessly to
achieve the desired effect.

An experienced glass manufacturer was sought, and found in Flachglas Wernberg Gmbh, which has been a leading glass manufacturer for buildings and vehicles in Europe since 1938. Paul Gora, department manager for printing

techniques, prides himself on staying on the cutting edge of the glass business. A year ago, he discovered a new technology that greatly expanded his department’s manufacturing capacity: DIP-Tech’s GlassJet™, the first digital printer for glass using ceramic inks.

Printing directly on glass

“Before the advent of the GlassJet, projects on this scale were logistically demanding and cost-intensive,” says
Gora. “We worked primarily with screens, which required extensive set up, cleaning, storage, and reclamation, which
makes screen printing very labour-intensive. The GlassJet eliminates all of this, making small to medium runs very cost-effective. Flachglas Wernberg can now easily fulfil the design and performance requirements of complex jobs such as this.”

The GlassJet is the first industrial digital printer printing directly on glass using ceramic inks. It instantly expands designers’ capacities by allowing them to create unique art that can be expressed across hundreds of panes. As the technology is digital and requires no screens, projects such as the Dublin airport extension can be expansive without being expensive. The software streamlines logistical issues with its feature managing variable data for tiling projects, ensuring that each pane is discretely numbered for easy tracking according to the design pattern.

Suitable for almost any glass application, the GlassJet allows manufacturers such as Flachglas Wernberg to benefit from rapid set up and the ability to use images from a wide variety of file types such as TIF, EPS, JPG and PDF. The GlassJet essentially functions like a standard printer: Users select the GlassJet from the print menu, and digitally processed images are sent to it through the network.

Glass designs of the future

The dramatic result speaks for itself. “We are delighted with the result,” says Wall. “Dublin Airport’s passenger
totals have more than doubled over the last 10 years, making us the eighth largest international airport in Europe. We are acutely aware of how environmental factors effect travellers’ perceptions and now our facility reflects our commitment to providing a positive experience.”

Gora looks forward to future projects made possible with the GlassJet technology. “The GlassJet’s clear economic advantages allow us to do many more projects requiring multicolour and multi-image designs,” he says. “It has a wide colour palette and it speeds up our production process by printing up to five colours at a time. This has expanded our production capacity to the point where we’re currently working on one project in Italy that involves 200 panels of
1500mmx2500mm and another for a huge mall that encompasses 1,200 different designs.”