© Advanced Aquarium Technologies

Pushing the boundaries of aquarium design

Gigantic panels, spectacular tunnels, enormous cylinders – Advanced Aquarium Technologies, a system provider for large aquariums, cooperates with PLEXIGLAS® making new dimensions possible for aquarium construction.

In early 2017, Advanced Aquarium Technologies (AAT) starts producing aquarium panels made of PLEXIGLAS® in a specially built, highly modern plant in Guangdong, China . The special part: It is now possible to produce larger formats than ever before, at this new plant. Business development manager Zac Gill explains in the interview why his company wants to push the boundaries of aquarium construction.

AAT has been making spectacular aquarium projects possible around the world for many years.

Why is your company now also entering the manufacturing business of large format acrylic?

Zac Gill: On all the international projects we have worked on, the critical path for the completion of the project has always run through the main acrylic panel. It is commonly used to make viewing windows, domes and tunnels. However, in recent years major construction projects have sometimes been held up because global production of high quality, large format acrylic can’t keep pace with demand. We wanted to be able to offer our clients greater control of their project timeframe and design process. Furthermore, we didn’t want to be held to the contractual terms of the other suppliers in the market, who had a stranglehold on the supply of large format acrylic.

Advanced Aquarium Technologies

 

From its headquarters in Kunda Park on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, Advanced Aquarium Technologies has established itself as a global leader in the design, construction and operation of large scale, iconic public aquariums. PLEXIGLAS® will be manufactured under license from its inventor, Evonik, with sales, marketing and distribution via a new unit – AAT ACRYLICS. Learn more: aatacrylics.com 

Why did you choose PLEXIGLAS® as a partner and not a different acrylic brand?

Zac Gill: We have actually worked with all other suppliers on various projects. The reason we kept coming back to PLEXIGLAS® is simply that it is the superior product. It is free of crosslinking agents resulting in improved transparency and bonding performance. Furthermore, the recipe is based on pure MMA and therefore no molding compound is used, which results in constant ‘colorless’ blocks. In addition, the warranty against yellowing is market leading.

And last but not least, the Evonik team provides a wealth of knowledge and depth of research. This is the foundation of really productive conversations about what we, as a team, could deliver.

Inside the new plant

John Langmead, CEO of ADVANCED AQUARIUM TECHNOLOGIES®, with Dr Gerd Jonas, Director Project Business and Wolfgang Stuber, Manager Project Business of Evonik Industries at the new AAT acrylics production plant in Guangdong, China. The 6,500 square meter plant is located within AAT’s existing 30,000 square meter fabrication facility. Having all of the production allows AAT to deliver fully completed aquarium exhibits with acrylic panels already installed. This way, they can be water tested.

© Advanced Aquarium Technologies

Evolution in acrylics is our passion

This topic is a fine example of what “Evolution in acrylics is our passion” – the vision of Evonik’s Acrylic Products business unit – expresses, and what Evonik means by smart concepts in the chemical business. Read more about why evolution is part of the DNA of PLEXIGLAS®, why passion is so important in new projects, and how Evonik’s expertise will advance the development of this material in the years to come.

12 meters by 4 meters: The new plant will produce larger formats of PLEXIGLAS® than ever possible before. Why is that necessary?

We believe that it is necessary to push the boundaries of aquarium design. Currently the limit to the size of an aquarium is the height of the main viewing panel. The largest panels are 8.3 meters tall. If they are stacked horizontally then the bond line is very noticeable. Therefore, larger formats are needed. So far clients tend to be dictated by the market suppliers rather than what is really possible from the product characteristics itself. Most of the other suppliers’ operations have been built around standard sheet sizes that come from outdated constraints.

The production is managed by AAT’s new unit AAT ACRYLICS, which will also supply off-the-shelf, standard-sized PLEXIGLAS® sheets and panels. Is it just a new product supply unit?

Definitely not. AAT ACRYLICS will also serve as a resource for designers, architects and other creative professionals from diverse industries to explore new possibilities and shape innovation on major projects using large-form acrylic panels, windows, tunnels and domes. We know from our own experience in aquariums that the magic happens when creative talent collaborates with technical experts.