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Shanghai Disneyland futuristic tomorrowland built using composites

News International-French

14 Jun 2016

Since breaking ground in 2011, Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group are on track for the grand opening of the new Shanghai Disneyland resort. All of the FRP components needed for Tomorrowland were hand lay-up, manufactured by the specialist composites fabricator E-Grow.

The new Disney resort in China has six themed lands including ‘Tomorrowland’ with future world Disney characters including Tron, Lilo and Stich, and Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear. Extensive sections of both the interior and exterior of the buildings and rides in Tomorrowland, covering an area of over 2,300 m2, were constructed from fire retardant (FR) gelcoated FRP composite moulded parts in several hundred different shaped and sized components.

All of the FRP components needed for Tomorrowland were hand lay-up, manufactured by the specialist composites fabricator E-Grow using a fire approved laminate system comprising Scott Bader’s Crestapol 1212 high performance ATH filled urethane acrylate resin, with the fire retardant pre-accelerated Iso-NPG polyester gelcoat Crystic 967 FR, supplied in a variety of specified custom colours.

Several hundred different sized and shaped gelcoated FRP parts were produced by E-Grow for Tomorrowland. The FRP composite parts supplied included facades, passenger sections of the Tron rollercoaster, parts of the Buzz Lightyear ride, the Lilo & Stitch Theatre, outdoor dining furniture and exterior cladding on the concourse and surrounding facilities. To cost effectively produce all of the different sizes and shapes for the Tomorrowland project, E-Grow used a unique, patented wax mould process. Using a 3D CAM file, individual plugs are CNC milled directly from wax blocks to produce the mould plug; wax has proved itself an ideal material for producing curved parts as exact radii are relatively easy to machine. The wax plugs, which include surface texture and design details, are then used to cast large gypsum based mould tools for the hand lay-up process. Once all the FRP parts are produced, the wax plug is melted down and reused. By recycling the wax, very large custom shaped FRP parts can be produced with very little waste at highly competitive prices. The production process is also more environmentally friendly since it includes material recycling.

All FRP used in the park had to meet the Chinese B1 ‘reaction to fire’ classification for fully assembled composite parts, as stipulated and tested by the Chinese National Inspection and Testing Centre for Building and Engineering Materials. To ensure that the fire specification was met, E–Grow used Crestapol 1212 high performance urethane acrylate loaded with 170phr aluminum trihydrate (ATH) as the backup resin.450 gsm CSM and 450 gsm woven rovings glass fibre reinforcements were added as needed. Another Disney requirement was that all gelcoat be both fire-resistant and match the paint system so that should there be any damage to the paint surface the part would maintain its appearance. To meet these requirements E-Grow used eight custom colors of Crystic Gelcoat 967 FR fire retardant pre-accelerated, thixotropic Iso-NPG polyester airless spray gelcoat. Crystic Gelcoat 967FR was specially designed by Scott Bader for the production of GRP parts in the building and transportation industry in areas where fire resistance is a key requirement. Scott Bader’s Asia Pacific team in Shanghai supplied E-Grow with materials according to a planned production call off schedule for each of the build phases of the construction project. The team managed all the inventory and supply chain logistics from Scott Bader’s production plants in the UK for the Crestapol resin, and in Dubai, UAE, for the eight different colours of the high performance fire retardant Crystic gelcoat. 

E-Grow was founded by Jerry Ku in 1997 and specialises in advanced building materials and providing solutions to creative, challenging architectural projects. Clients include internationally acclaimed architects and construction companies, working on both conventional and ground-breaking architectural design projects. E–Grow has factories in Shanghai and Dongguan, China.

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