01 April 2013
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Resin systems deliver fast replacement for city sculpture

Composite materials from Huntsman Advanced Materials 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, in 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.

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 Advanced Materials.

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, 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 Advanced Materials - the company that supplied an resin system for the original - the sculptors selected a gel coat and a new laminating resin system to help reinforce and complete the new piece. 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 gel coat. Providing the benefit
of good wear resistance, the gel coat gives the sculpture its high quality surface black look finish.

The laminating system was then applied, providing excellent, long-term interlayer adhesion between the surface coat and the ensuing layers of glass fibre mat reinforcement. Designed to satisfy
the requirements of wet lay-up techniques for glass ply, this system met all of the team's needs with the added benefit of room temperature curing. 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," said Paul Walder, former assistant to Jean Tinguely.

"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," he added.

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

Paul Gay

Related Companies

Huntsman Advanced Materials

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