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–Bruce Dickinson, VP of Sales
–Charlie Rueb, Display Division Manager
“Hey. What do you know about Polyethylene and printing on it?”
“Well, you know, it’s a pretty new material here in the States. But I know a little bit about it.”
“I think we’re going to wrap the Olympic Stadium with Dow using PE.”
“Wow. That’s pretty cool.”
-Initial conversation regarding project with Bruce Dickinson & Charlie Rueb
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Partnership commits to improving Games experience through sustainable, chemistry-based solutions
Worldwide Olympic Partner The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW) produced a sustainable fabric wrap to encircle London’s iconic Olympic Stadium during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The stadium is home to several athletic events, and the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
The wrap is comprised of 336 individual panels – each approximately 25 meters high and 2.5 meters wide – and helps make the stadium the visual centerpiece of the London 2012 Games.
Dow worked with Rainier and the Cooley Group to develop the wrap. These are the only companies in the world capable of producing the wrap within the specifications outlined.
In keeping with LOCOG’s goal to stage a sustainable Olympic Games, Rainier, Dow and Cooley partnered to create a unique material developed specifically for this event. The wrap includes resins made by Dow’s Performance Plastics Division and requires fewer raw materials to manufacture. It is up to 35 percent lighter and has a lower carbon footprint when compared to conventional materials. Digital printing of the design was done at the Rainier facility in Seattle, WA with UV-curable, water soluble inks instead of conventional solvent based inks, in order to reduce emissions during the printing process and eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOC). The wrap includes post-industrial recycled content and the hardware used to hang the wrap will be recycled in Europe following the Games.
Strength and beauty
The wrap completes the Olympic Stadium for the Games as its architects intended. It also helps the stadium become the visual centerpiece of the London 2012 Games. The wrap provides some protection to Olympic spectators from the sun and wind, and also features directional signage and shields exposed elements of the stadium from sight.
Innovation at Rainier: “We love the challenge.”
When Dow first came to Rainier with this project, we knew immediately that it would be a challenge. The fabrics that would be traditionally used in such a situation were out – they aren’t environmentally-friendly, and they aren’t reusable due to their high chemical content.
A very over-simplified explanation of fabric: pellets are pushed through an extruder, resulting in material that’s thin, wide, and flexible. Extruders like fabric that’s roughly 90% liquid and 10% solid. But in order to meet the fire standards of a UK public venue, the fabric had to be about 10% liquid and 90% solid. That’s approximately the make-up of roofing membranes. The basic challenge: to take technology used for horizontal surfaces (roofs) and apply it to vertical textiles (banners rising in helixes over 80 feet high, from the ground concourse to the upper tier of the stadium).
It was like pushing mud through the extruder. The material just did not work on our machines. It was too stiff, it didn’t spread, it wouldn’t print. So Dow, Rainier, and Cooley went back to the design board – and created an entirely new concept of infrastructure membranes.
Still, working with this new fabric was like working with cardboard. Every single step of the process – from printing to installation – presented new challenges. So the Rainier team came up with new solutions and solved each problem as it arose.
Our team is always interested in a challenge. And sustainability is a daily mission at Rainier – so we’re proud to have supported the London Games in that aim.
Check back here over the next few weeks for more behind-the-scenes stories and features about Rainier’s involvement in creating the Olympic wrap with Dow.
Rainier is a state-of-the-art international manufacturer of innovative sports graphics solutions and retail display solutions, based in Seattle, Washington. The company’s work is visible in over a hundred professional and collegiate sports facilities, as well as major retail chains, and the Salt Lake City and Vancouver Olympics. Rainier is certified to ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 9001:2008, is a G7 certified Master Printer and received the SGIA Sustainability Recognition Award for 2011 for its Environmental Management System.
More information about Rainier can be found at www.rainier.com.
Dow combines the power of science and technology with the “Human Element” to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems. Dow’s diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as. In 2010, Dow had annual sales of $53.7 billion and employed approximately 50,000 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 188 sites in 35 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.