Entrance to the Spaceship attraction in Disneyland China’s Tomorrowland.
Entrance to the Spaceship attraction in Disneyland China’s Tomorrowland.

The new Shanghai Disneyland resort will include over 2,300 m2 of fiber reinforced composites material in its Tomorrowland attraction.

The components have been constructed from fire retardant (FR) gelcoated FRP composite moulded parts in several hundred different shapes and sizes. All of the FRP components needed for Tomorrowland were hand lay-up, made by composites fabricator E-Grow using a fire approved laminate system comprising Scott Bader’s Crestapol 1212 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.  

The FRP composite parts supplied included facades, passenger sections of the Tron roller-coaster, 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 patented wax mould process which makes use of a 3D CAM file to then CNC mill individual plugs directly from wax blocks to produce the mould plug. 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, Scott Bader says.   

The Tomorrowland main buildings under construction.
The Tomorrowland main buildings under construction.

Fire resistance

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 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 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. 

This story is reprinted from material from Scott Bader, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.