Aerospace Coatings Makers Focus on R&D

Aerospace coatings manufacturers focus their R&D efforts on developing innovative coatings that are durable and light-weight.

Coatings World: In what areas are you focusing R&D efforts?

John Griffin, AkzoNobel’s Aerospace Business Director: We are always working to improve our aerospace coatings, and our efforts focus on three key areas: environmental compliance, improving performance and ease of application / process time. A significant portion of our R&D resource is working on developing chrome-free primers for aluminum aircraft structures. This is a difficult task because these products are expected to protect these structures for 30 years or more. We have made significant progress without patented inhibits technologies and combined with Mapaero’s research in this area, we expect to be ready for field trials in 2020.

Improving performance is always a key focus for our R&D team, and we are currently working on projects to develop surfacing films that are applied in the mold – replacing traditional spray-applied coatings. We expect this process will yield a protective coating for structural and non-structural composites that has better UV resistance, adhesion, flexibility and durability compared with traditional spray-applied primers and coatings.

Andreas Ossenkopf, Director – Head of Aviation at Mankiewicz:  Mankiewicz carries out extensive market research, to stay aware of customer needs and to detect trends and developments in good time.  In addition, it is of course especially important for us to keep up to date with present and future chemical regulations. Also, in this regard, we invest a lot of energy in research as well as significant sums in R&D and employ a large number of staff members in order to develop the high-tech coating products of the future. One special focus of our R&D department is working on new, environmentally friendly paint systems. We are constantly reducing the use of solvents and developing eco-friendly water-based alternatives to traditional paint systems. Water-based products have been in our portfolio for decades. We attach importance to holistic thinking and also like exploring new horizons to find solutions. We are continuously developing product innovations and devote a lot of our time and energy to this.

Daniel Bencun, PPG global director, aerospace coating: Thanks to strong, well-established relationships, PPG’s R&D team is consistently in contact with its customers to better understand what product features will make their jobs easier.

This allows the company to evaluate its formulations to ensure they are meeting the evolving needs of our customers to develop products that protect and improve the aesthetics of their assets – from appearance to weight to compliance with future regulations on the environment, health and safety. Environmental considerations are also a major driver of our business as our customers look for more environmentally preferred solutions. The industry is moving away from chemicals such as chrome, which has traditionally been used as a corrosion inhibitor in primers and pretreatments, and some solvents used in coatings. Eliminating substances such as chrome and using more eco-friendly corrosion inhibitors continue to be important objectives for PPG in new product development. Customers benefit from the pretreatments and primers now in use that provides the needed corrosion-resistance performance without chrome as an intentionally added ingredient, and many are also water-based technologies.

We do not foresee environmental protections being abandoned in the future, if anything, they are likely to be more stringent. Separate from government regulatory trends, it is important to note that customers continue to show greater interest in products that are environmentally conscious. PPG remains focused on making our business and products more sustainable for our customers.

Julie Voisin, global marketing manager, Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings:  Our product introductions reflect the needs that we hear from our customers, including coatings that are better for the environment, create efficiencies for the aircraft painting facilities, and continue to be easy to mix, apply and are durable. We work with facilities to improve their own paint processes which in turn helps with the capacity issue as well as with workforce skills.

We provide hands-on, classroom and custom training sessions which are ideal for facilities running multiple shifts and need to train many painters at once. Our 2020 training program complements the extensive video repair series Sherwin-Williams recently introduced. Like the video series, the 2020 training program demonstrates best practices and repair methods for OEMs, MROs and paint shops to maximize efficiency, increasing production while reducing labor, material cost and downtime. The methods featured are proven to help deliver consistent and reliable repairs, benefitting customer satisfaction and retention.

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