Honeywell announced that its Spectra fiber is strengthening the ropes used in a new sculpture making its world premiere this month in Vancouver, British Columbia, by world-renowned artist Janet Echelman.
The fiber, which is pound-for-pound 15 times stronger than steel but light enough to float, gives Echelman’s sculpture the strength it needs to sustain winds of up to 96 miles per hour while remaining light enough to attach to existing buildings and eventually be transported around the world to be displayed.
The sculpture weighs 3,500 pounds and its first installation will suspend 745 feet across the waterfront between the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and the Vancouver Convention Center. Echelman is known for creating massive sculptures that respond to the forces of nature. The new sculpture will be of a size and scale never before attempted by Echelman.
“When I began planning for a sculpture of this size, I knew Spectra fiber would be a critical component in helping me achieve my artistic vision,” said Echelman. “The fiber gives my work the strength it needs, but allows me to create a structure that is light and delicate so that it moves with the wind.”
The ropes are produced by custom rope manufacturer Yale Cordage, which is known for its application-specific ropes and efficient use of fiber to provide maximum strength in its products. Yale created a 12-strand hollow braided rope using Spectra fiber for this project.
“Spectra fiber’s lightweight strength makes it a sought-after material for specialty applications like Janet’s innovative and impressive sculpture, but also for critical applications ranging from body armor to slings for lifting bridge components weighing millions of pounds,” said Mark Saholsky, global business manager for Honeywell’s Advanced Fibers and Composites business. “This Vancouver installation of the artwork underscores the capabilities of Spectra fiber.”
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” The organization’s conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, and content spans from topics related to science, business, the arts, and technology, to the global issues facing our world.
Echelman was asked to create a monumental aerial sculpture to celebrate TED’s 30th anniversary, an event that will bring together 100 of the best TED speakers of all time, including Echelman. Following the conference in Vancouver, the artist plans to install the sculpture in other locations around the globe.
Spectra fiber has been used in several of Echelman’s previous works, including her sculpture 1.26, which draws inspiration from the February 2010 earthquake in Chile that shortened the length of the earth’s day by 1.26 microseconds by slightly redistributing the earth’s mass.
To date, 1.26 has been installed on three continents – North America, Australia, and Europe – and will be installed in Asia later this year. Echelman is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and was named an Architectural Digest 2012 Innovator for “changing the very essence of urban spaces.”
Spectra fiber is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene using a patented gel-spinning process. The fiber exhibits high resistance to chemicals, water, and ultraviolet light.