Decorating Ceramics / Glass

Case Study: Digital Ceramic Printed Glass Enhances O'Hare International Airport

Digital printed glass is changing the face of airports and architectural glass around the world.

March 1, 2014

Terminal 5 of Chicago O’Hare International Airport recently underwent renovation that included the installation of digital ceramic printed glass. The millions of people traveling through the busy airport this past holiday season were the first to see and experience the new digitally printed glass elements used in the terminal renovation.

O’Hare is the most recent of many airports to use digital ceramic printed glass in new and renovated terminals. Digital ceramic printed glass brings a new level of functionality to glass and expands its role in airport design. It offers an unprecedented ability to control light and to address safety, security and privacy concerns.

At the same time, complete freedom over design and scalability manipulation creates a new medium for communication. In addition, the look of other natural materials, such as wood or stone, can be replicated. All of these benefits are combined into a single and extremely durable product; digital printed glass is changing the face of airports and architectural glass around the world.


Glass Achieves Multi-Functionality

Having extremely ambitious goals for the glass elements in the O’Hare Terminal 5 project, Epstein Architects turned to Goldray Industries, which is known for its in-house manufacturing capabilities and reputation for solving complex architectural decorative glass challenges. The highly detailed graphics, designed by Thirst Communication Design, convey a story of the traveler’s experience, resulting in complex design details that needed a unique solution.

Included in the overall glass solution of the terminal renovation was almost 4,000 sq ft (370 sq m) of digital ceramic printed glass. The first element seen upon entering the terminal is a two-story interior curtain wall that blocks entry to private areas and directs foot traffic to the security checkpoint. The color bands and geometric shapes of the designed glass were printed in a gradient to ensure the flow of natural light without diminishing its privacy function.

The wall was installed using clips instead of silicon to maintain the aesthetic quality of the design, which seamlessly continues onto the printed glass wall cladding. This provides a beautiful backing to the retail shops, demarcates the restrooms, and carries on the narrative. The digital ceramic printed glass guard rail on the upper level, which is seen by both arriving and departing passengers, creates a separation between these two groups while creating a shared experience, as both groups can see the images of the flight patterns spanning the globe.

“We worked through all the various color and design options until one met all expectations,” said Greg Saroka, president of Goldray Industries. “Using the Dip-Tech solution, we were then able to fabricate this highly comprehensive, detailed project exactly how it was conceptualized and drawn by the architects.”


New Look for Airports Around the World

Other airports that have recently chosen to apply digital ceramic printed glass include Newark International Airport printed by Alice® GGI, Ireland’s Dublin Airport printed by Flachglas Wernberg in Germany, and Santiago Airport by Glasstech in Chile. For Newark Airport, Voorsanger Architects had a white faded appearance digitally printed directly onto the glass interior dividers to create privacy without sacrificing natural light.

In Dublin, architect Susan Dunne took advantage of viewing distances so that people seeing the same design experienced a different narrative. In Santiago, Chilean artists showcased their work on digital ceramic printed glass.

“With every panel of glass there are unlimited design possibilities and a broad range of functional applications,” said Yariv Matzliach, Dip-Tech CEO. “With an expensive undertaking such as airport design and renovation, you must get the most out of every component, including the glass. With digital ceramic printed glass, there is a highly favorable cost-to-benefit ratio.”

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