A new spin on sight-seeing

A journey through the history of our International brand and the innovations it continues to develop.

A new spin on sight-seeing

    A dizzying 250 meters high, Ain Dubai (the Dubai Eye) is the largest and highest Ferris wheel in the world.

    The spectacular attraction – which officially opened in 2021 – towers over the man-made Bluewaters Island. Modelled after the London Eye, it features 48 passenger capsules and has a maximum capacity of 1,400 people.

    Inevitably, it features a lot of steel. More than 9,000 tons to be exact. Which is almost 25% more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. All that steel needed to be protected, and we’re proud to have been the sole supplier of protective coatings for the massive structure.

    It means we’ve now coated four of the world’s most iconic observation wheels, the others being the London Eye in the UK, the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel in Australia and the Singapore Flyer.

    Given the harsh local climate and Ain Dubai’s proximity to the water, it was important to specify a system which provided both corrosion and UV resistance. The specification was therefore designed to deliver maximum protection, as well as offering outstanding color and gloss retention.

    The high-performance system of International products applied to the structure included Interzinc 52 primer; Intergard 475HS (a high build epoxy providing protection against corrosion); Interthane 990 (a high build epoxy finish coating); and Interfine 979 polysiloxane topcoat.

    Providing 360-degree views of the city and the Arabian Gulf, Ain Dubai has quickly established itself as an iconic landmark. It’s one of the most high profile recent additions to our proven track record of supporting large-scale ventures that require superior technical expertise, products and technology.

    History in the making

      Famous for its distinctive red propellor logo, our International brand has enjoyed quite the journey over a history which spans three different centuries.

      Its heritage can be traced back to 1890, but it was in 1904 when production moved to Felling in the UK, where it’s still made today.

      Home to one of International's main operational bases, the Felling site has been making coatings for well over 100 years. The facility became part of AkzoNobel when the company acquired prestigious UK business Courtaulds in 1998.

      A key manufacturing location, it produces marine coatings, protective coatings and yacht coatings. It’s also a major innovation hub and has strong links with academia and research institutes.

      Having continued to grow and develop over the years (more than £27 million has been invested in the location since 2011), Felling prides itself on honoring the great paint-making tradition of the Holzapfel brothers, who started the whole thing off in 1881 when they began mixing paints by hand at a shipyard on England’s River Tyne.

      Taking innovation to the extreme

        A trailblazing lab complex for testing new products in conditions that mimic the world’s most extreme environments can be found at our Felling site in the UK.

        The €12.6 million R&D innovation campus fuses the location’s 118-year history of product development with state-of-the-art facilities designed to keep us at the forefront of the coatings industry.

        A creative nerve center for the foremost scientists and technical experts in the world of coatings, the focus is on delivering cutting-edge innovations and products for the marine and oil and gas industries.

        One of the key features is an advanced application and testing laboratory. It’s used to test new products in extreme conditions such as temperature resistance, fire and high pressure. The facilities also enable scientists to expose products to chemicals and corrosion. It enables our technical experts to partner more closely with our customers and deliver innovative products and solutions that meet the most demanding specifications in our industry.

        A comprehensive sustainability plan was at the heart of the design and development of the complex. Features include solar wall cladding, a sustainable urban drainage system, grey water recycling, photovoltaic panels, air compressor heat recovery, and a sedum “green roof”.  

        A new future for shipping

          The testing we’re conducting at our R&D innovation campus in Felling, UK, is playing a major role in our efforts to make the shipping industry more sustainable.

          As a leading global supplier of marine coatings – through our International brand – we develop products that ships and reduce the accumulation of organisms on their hulls. This helps to reduce the drag they experience as they move through the water, improving efficiency and reducing fuel consumption and CO₂ emissions. 

          Shipping is the most carbon efficient mode of transport, with around 85% of all goods in the world being transported by ships. However, due to its scale the shipping industry still has a huge environmental impact, accounting for about 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization. 

          The work we’re doing in Felling will ensure that we continue to develop the innovations that will help to create modern, efficient and safe fleets for the 21st century.

          Our team of chemical engineers, material scientists, biologists, hydrodynamic experts, physicists and digital innovation specialists are working on innovative technologies that will help to transform the shipping industry. Projects include biomimicry, drone technology, intelligent sensors and digital innovation.

          Reducing the environmental impact of shipping and increasing the share of sustainable products isn’t just our responsibility. We work closely with other key industry to create transparency on sustainable best practices in the supply chain and reduce carbon emissions.

          Brand of brothers

            It was way back in 1881 when brothers Max and Albert Holzapfel began their journey into the world of marine coatings.

            Partnering with Charles Petrie, the trio established Holzapfel Ltd in a shipyard shed in Newcastle, UK. They produced marine anti-fouling coatings for iron-clad ships, which they made by hand in wooden casks. The aim was to ride the tide of the booming marine industry.

            Max and Albert were young, ambitious and confident of success. But even they could hardly have foreseen the growth that would eventually push their business into worldwide expansion.

            The business quickly expanded and by 1889 they’d opened their first overseas factory in Russia. A year later, the company became known as International, and the distinctive red propellor logo was born.

            The name caught on, customer demand grew, and the company moved to larger premises, where it introduced iron mixing tanks and a mechanized process

            By 1901, the company had ventured into the US, then in 1904, UK production was moved to a landmark factory in Felling (where International products are still made today). By 1914, the enterprising trio has opened their ninth plant over in Japan – their first in Asia. Production later expanded to Sweden, France, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

            International has only changed hands twice since it was first established all those years ago. First in 1968, when it was sold to Courtaulds, and then in 1998, when AkzoNobel acquired the Courtaulds business.

            The original barrel used by the Holzapfel Brothers to make varnishes still exists and is on display at the Felling site.

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