Although completed in August 2011, The Makkah Royal Hotel Clock Tower, also known as Abraj Al-Bait Towers, jumped in searches last week as it continues to set a number of world records. It is now one of the world’s tallest hotels, is the tallest clock tower and contains the world’s largest clock face. Inaugurated in front of thousands of onlookers, its composite LED-embedded panels were lit up as part of a massive laser display.
The top of the building was managed under the leadership of SL-Rasch, an architectural company specializing in lightweight structures in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, and the clock was built and installed by Premier Composite Technologies (PCT) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Several big composite industry suppliers such as Gurit, Saertex, Toray Industries and others also contributed to the manufacturing of the impressive edifice.
The clock tower itself is almost entirely manufactured with composite parts, including over 40,000 square-meters of panels and composite clock hands. PCT collaborated with Stuttgart University in Stuttgart, Germany to incorporate the 2 million LED lights into the composite pieces. The composite panels are sandwich laminates constructed using a mixture of wet layup and vacuum bag molding with stitched e-glass, epoxy and an epoxy ultra slow hardener. Some of the parts were cured at room temperature over night while others were oven cured.
The biggest project challenge was to manufacture clock hands that could withstand the unforgiving desert heat and sun rays while protecting the LED lights. The group decided once again on composite materials for the hands, which are sandwich structures using layers of carbon fiber prepegs cured in a vacuum bag under 176 degrees Fahrenheit.