You may have never flown on a commercial airplane. Still, chances are pretty high you've seen one—which means it's likely you've seen a livery designed by Teague. Liveries are graphic schemes applied to the exteriors of airplanes. And we've created hundreds. Teague has a livery team whose sole purpose is to partner with airlines around the world to design and wrap such schemes. Post-design process, these graphics are usually hand painted. In rare instances, they're printed on decals. But what if you could print graphics directly onto an airplane?
Livery graphics are usually hand painted. What if you could print graphics directly onto an airplane?
On a traditionally painted livery, each color is sprayed from a paint gun separately and by hand. This means no fades, no color blending; think paint by numbers, but with fewer colors. Extra layout, more spray time, and additional drying cycles equate to more hours and more money. On the other hand, with a printer, anything goes. And instead of taking days to paint, any design could be printed in a matter of hours.
Always the innovator, Boeing set out to develop a custom printer capable of producing large-scale images. In 2019 they were ready to pilot a new direct-to-shape 3D inkjet printer backed by 120 patents. The canvas: a white 737 vertical stabilizer, i.e., a plane's tail. It sat waiting in an airplane hangar as Boeing began talks with Alaska Airlines, asking if the airline would be the first to try out their first-of-its-kind printer. Alaska agreed, and talk turned to graphics. Boeing wanted ideas that could show off the benefits of inkjet technology. Alaska liked ideas that highlighted the surroundings of their headquarters in the Pacific Northwest.