Dragon Laser were first approached by a marine company in August 2014 to seek our help with a project involving the re-branding of the P&O Cruise line. In December 2014, P&O Cruises was to announce that it has created a multimillion-pound “wave campaign” and unveiled a new brand identity as it looked to differentiate itself from other cruise lines in the run-up to the launch of its newest vessel, Britannia, in March 2015. The £500 million, 3,600-berth vessel promises to be the line’s most high-profile, but P&O would also concede that in the past the brand had not always stood out in the market. To address this, P&O would reveal a new strapline, ‘This is the Life’, an adapted logo and a TV advertising campaign fronted by comedian Rob Brydon.
The marine company that had been tasked with supplying and fitting the new logo to the funnel of all P&O’s fleet decided to contact us due to the dimensions being 7.312m x 5.275m and a knowledge that something of this size could not be designed and manufactured in one whole piece. With our problem-solving experience and expertise in the laser cutting of sheet metal, we were approached to research and develop a solution.
After identifying the possible areas of project failure, we then worked through a design solution and eventual manufacture in readiness for fitting. Our attention first fell on the actual logo design itself. We would need to ensure that all measurements and geometry were extremely accurately mapped to extremely tight tolerances to ensure that the integrity of the design and its actual appearance was maintained. To achieve this, we would use our software system to convert the image to a vector file.
In addition to significant research, several different types of material were trialled to identify the correct material type to use to manufacture the logos by continually exposing small samples to salt water over a period of time and observing the results. This allowed us to choose 5083 grade Aluminium for the public facing aspect of the project. 5083 aluminium alloy is an aluminium alloy with magnesium and traces of manganese and chromium. This metal is known for its exceptional performance in extreme environments and is highly resistant to attack by both seawater and industrial chemical environments. Alloy 5083 also retains exceptional strength after welding. It has the highest strength of the non-heat treatable alloys but is not recommended for use in temperatures in excess of 65 degrees C.
Now knowing what material to use and how to achieve an aesthetically pleasing finish, attention turned to how we would separate the design into sections for manufacture, shipping and fitting. This wasn’t as simple as drawing equal lines through the drawings to identify the sections as consideration needed to be paid to the balancing of the structure and the safety aspect when fixed in place. An even support was needed for each section. We also took into account the economical aspect in that we wanted to minimise waste during the manufacturing process in order to minimise costs. Using 3D modelling allowed us to work through the possibilities to arrive at the answer.
The initial prototype was shipped to the port where the first P&O ship to be fitted was located and the logo was replaced. All went to plan with no major incident. This resulted in further orders and to date, 7 of the 8 P&O ships have seen their logo replaced.