The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (ICCC) built a new church in Mount Vernon, WA. The new building included plans for two large domes to embellish the front profile.
A local composite manufacturer, Janicki Industries, was encouraged by employees who attend ICCC to help fabricate the domes. The employees knew the low weight and design flexibility of composites made it the material of choice for the domes.
Several of Janicki’s employees volunteered their time to make this project a reality and also committed to using surplus materials when possible, both to provide the lowest total cost of the project and to conserve materials and resources as possible.
Janicki Industry designers and engineers adopted a cost effective modular design. Each dome was to be constructed of 20 individual composite panels that would be adhered together during the final assembly.
The pie shaped panels that would eventually become the dome were constructed using an infusion process where fiberglass mat and other reinforcements are positioned in the mold. The mold is sealed and vacuum is applied to the mold to pull a polymer based resin through the reinforcements, which then cures resulting in a permanent shape.
With twenty of the panels to mold, the volunteer team from Janicki was able to use the project as a training tool for new fabrication technicians, helping these technicians learn the infusion process.
The material conservation approach didn’t end with the dome construction. Employees also located discarded foam which was machined to size and used as the core material for the crosses that are mounted on the top of each dome. To provide long term durability and maintain shape, the foam core was covered with fiberglass and a polymer resin binder to form the solid final pieces.
After careful alignment and assembly, Janicki’s manufacturing team painted the domes with a 4-stage process that gives the surface a distressed look adding an old world charm to the new building. The crosses were painted with a cream colored polymer based top coat that was left over from a previous completed project.
The end product is truly a work of art and an inspiration – the inspiration is not just what they represent to the ICCC, but also to those that understand the many volunteered hours and the careful use and re-use of materials throughout the project. Thanks to the Janicki team’s effort, the Mount Vernon, Washington skyline will be adorned with these composite domes for generations to come.