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How anti-corrosion coatings are protecting Melbourne's tourist attractions

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article image The gloss white protective coating forms an ideal surface to project the Star's colourful, nightly light show

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Melbourne, Australia's second most populous city draws tourists and locals to its vibrant cultural, shopping and entertainment venues. One of the latest tourist attractions in the cosmopolitan Victorian capital is the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, which towers 40 storeys above the Docklands area of the city, and is the only giant observation wheel in the Southern Hemisphere. The seven spokes represent the Federation star on the Australian flag.

Preservation of this impressive structure was paramount in the design specifications. A fast drying polysiloxane coating protects the steel structure of the Melbourne Star and the high-gloss white colour of the covering is the perfect reflective 'screen' for the Wheel's night time lightshow.

The Melbourne Star is constructed from approximately 1,200 tonnes of steel with the components fabricated by Alfasi Steel Construction in Melbourne and Haywards Steel Fabrication & Construction in Tasmania, and then transported to site for assembly.

Commissioned by Sanoyas Rides Corporation, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel was developed by an engineering team from Arup, Alfasi and Haywards. The Star officially opened prior to Christmas 2013 and has already won a number of engineering and design awards.

Managing corrosion is a major challenge for owners of suburban industrial units or structures such as the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Star. One of the proven ways to protect an asset from corrosion is to physically isolate it from the environment by applying a protective coating. Selecting and applying the appropriate protective coating is a vital decision for companies and asset owners.

The massive steel structure of the Melbourne Star has been painted using AkzoNobel's International brand coatings. Instead of the often used three-coat system, Brendan Mutimer, AkzoNobel's Victorian Project Manager selected the company's two coat Interzinc 52 primer and Interfine 979 polysiloxane system. The coating's superior adhesion and fast curing properties helped to keep the project on schedule without compromising the corrosion protection standards for the job.

The coating was spray applied to the complex steel sections after fabrication, followed by touch-ups after the segments were assembled on site. The fast curing performance of the coating allowed an almost uninterrupted process of application.

Mutimer attributed the success of the project to true team effort across the business including strategic collaboration on detailed specifications, warranties, maintenance plans, site visits and meetings, random inspections, problem solving and uninterrupted product supply.

The polysiloxane topcoat has been named Melbourne Star Observation Wheel White, after the original colour specification. AkzoNobel has been commended for the accuracy of the colour match and for the long term colour and gloss retention the topcoat will provide.

The Australasian Corrosion Association (ACA) is a not-for-profit membership association disseminating information on corrosion and its prevention or control, by providing training, seminars, conferences, publications and other activities.

The ACA has been involved in the writing and development of corrosion control standards since the 1950s to assist members in assessing the most effective methods in reducing the impact and cost of corrosion to various projects.

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