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Huntsman’s Araldite Materials Deliver Excellent Properties to City Sculpture

  • Tuesday, 12th February 2013
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

Composite materials from Huntsman have been used to create a new central sculpture in the Jean Tinguely Carnival Fountain, situated on the esplanade of the municipal theatre in Basel, Switzerland.

The Jean Tinguely Carnival Fountain was presented as a gift to the city from Migros Basel, one of Switzerland’s largest enterprises, on 14th June 1977. This iconic landmark features ten mechanically powered moving creations including the Theaterkopf; the only glass reinforced plastic sculpture which sits amidst nine other metal pieces.

According to Huntsman, in its 35-year history, the moving fountain has been inactive for just a few hours each year when maintenance or cleaning activities are undertaken. To maintain the iconic appearance of this key tourist attraction, it was decided that a new central figure of the Theaterkopf would be created.

On this project, Paul Walder, who assisted Jean Tinguely in constructing the fountain in 1977 and has maintained it ever since, worked alongside freelance sculptor Michael Cordasco, with support from Huntsman.

The design objectives were to re-produce the original design of the Theaterkopf, using similar techniques and materials to those used for the original sculpture.

As a moving structure, which would be permanently situated in water and subject to a range of harsh environmental conditions, Huntsman says the new sculpture needed to be strong, stiff, lightweight and weather resistant. In keeping with the original, the new sculpture would also be finished in black.

Following consultation with Huntsman, the sculptors selected a gelcoat and a new Araldite laminating resin system to help reinforce and complete the new piece. Huntsman explains that these materials were specified for their outstanding properties in providing a high quality finish, while enabling the production of a robust composite part with the added benefits of cost savings achieved through room temperature curing and temperature resistance in application.

A new silicone rubber mould was made from the original composite sculpture. On the surface of the new mould, the sculptors applied two layers of Huntsman’s gelcoat. Providing the benefit of good wear resistance, the gelcoat is said to give the sculpture its high quality surface black look finish.

Huntsman’s Araldite laminating system was then applied, which it says provided excellent, long-term interlayer adhesion between the surface coat and the ensuing layers of glass fibre mat reinforcement.

To obtain the stiffness, strength and lightness of the sculpture, the reinforcement material and resin were then built up in several layers to a thickness of approximately 15mm.

“For such an iconic showpiece, when it comes to the manufacturing process and its constituent parts, there can be no compromise on quality. The selected Huntsman Araldite systems provided essential time-savings and efficiencies in supporting our specified manufacturing techniques while fulfilling important performance criteria, with the end result being a lightweight sculpture that has the strength and stiffness to support constant movement alongside the required properties to withstand the elements in all seasons,” said Paul Walder, former assistant to Jean Tinguely.

The sculptors worked with products and technical support from Huntsman to produce the new Theaterkopf sculpture in a timescale of three working days.

In further news, Huntsman has recently entered into a partnership with SpecialChem to support the execution of its business development strategy for Epoxy Specialty Components in the European Adhesives and Composites markets.

According to Huntsman, the custom Commercial Acceleration Solutions have been designed to bring speed and market reach, and act as an extended arm of Huntsman’s business development team. The purpose of this collaboration is to educate the adhesives and composites market about epoxy specialty components benefits with a strong focus on High Temperature Resistance and Fast Cure performance; and to generate and identify active projects at adhesives and composites players.

“Our collaboration with SpecialChem helps us to establish and reinforce the benefits brought by Huntsman that different market segments are valuing” said Jason Willis, Marketing Manager. “With the appropriate positioning, we will generate and identify new projects via targeted education via SpecialChem platforms”

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