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Airlines

Surface effect

Sherwin-Williams Aerospace and Mankiewicz have new developments in decorative and non- decorative coatings. Ian Harbison reports
 

Julie Voisin, Global Marketing Manager - Aerospace Coatings at Sherwin-Williams Aerospace, says the company works closely with airlines and design houses and so can pick up on trends within the industry. This results in new products and in providing assistance to develop new cabin colour schemes.

 

The latest interior product is Jet Suede, a two-component urethane topcoat that gives a textured feel. It offers good stain, abrasion and scratch resistance and can be used as a low cost, low maintenance alternative to leather on rigid and flexible plastics and substrates. Typical examples are armrests, cockpit yokes and trim on cabin fabrics which comes in a range of low gloss, solid colours, including OEM colours.

First application is to the Cirrus SF50 Visionjet but she says there is airline interest as well.

 

The introduction of cabin mood lighting has resulted in the introduction of the Jet Flex ELITE colours. These coatings are responsive to LED lighting and create a subtle glow with highlights and coloured shadows not seen with current interior cabin coatings. Using an interior cabin coating like Jet Flex ELITE is a cost-effective way to improve the passenger experience in both the economy and premium class sections of the aircraft.

 

To help designers, the company has developed an Interior Color Selector book and fan deck set including 107 colours, almost three times more than the previous version. It covers the product range, including JetFlex, JetFlex WR, JetFlex ELITE, Polane L and Jet Suede, as well as special effects and textures.

 

She adds that the fan deck features larger samples of solid and effect selections. This provides users the opportunity to more easily compare colours side by side with material samples such as carpets and fabrics.

 

The new colours feature an increased number of grey tones – a neutral base colour is good to highlight other, brighter colours. There are also a broad offering of effect colours that include unique shades such as Foggy Forest, Stormy Sea, Steamy Latte, Silvery Moon, Sunset Blush, Coastal Breeze, and Golden Radiance. The company can meet the majority of airlines’ requirements from the standard catalogue, the rest being specific customised colours.

 

Some of those plastic products mentioned above are now being produced by 3D printing. Stefan Jacob, Sales Director, Aviation at Mankiewicz Hamburg, says the technology is still developing and, at the moment, does not produce smooth surfaces suitable for the direct application of paint to get a perfect finish.

 

Instead, it typically produces furrows that need to be filled. As these are deeper than the unevenness normally found on aircraft components, a larger amount of filler material is needed. This, in turn, means the component may no longer pass the heat release rate test. Mankiewicz has now developed a new filler, ALEXIT PrimeFill, that gets round this challenge and passes the heat release rate test even in cases of deep furrows, respectively large quantities of fillers. In addition, it significantly facilitates the efforts for surface treatment and the product is even considered a ‘Game Changer’ by users.

 

The company has also developed another non-decorative interior coating aspect, this time in response to increasing interest in passenger wellbeing. This is ALEXIT PureGuard anti-microbial paint. Some of this interest has been generated by concerns about low cost carriers and the limited time available for cleaning during very quick turnarounds but, for cultural reasons, there has also been a push from the important Asian market for touch free controls in lavatories and a wish for greater levels of onboard hygiene.

 

The first generation of such kind of topcoat from Mankiewicz has silver as anti-microbial active agent, which is proven to be very effective and can be added to any surface, but its presence in paint has a tendency to ‘muddy’ the colour and hence limits the colour palette available. As airlines increasingly look to interior colours for differentiation and very bright colours, there has been a need to find an alternative.

 

PureGuard is a simple, water-based single coat application that contains an active antimicrobial agent to inhibit the growth of bacteria, while the film surface is resistant to mould. It is available in smooth or textured finishes and in a wide colour range and as a clear coat. It also has good chemical and mechanical resistance while fulfilling FST and heat release requirements of the industry.

 

The preferred use is in hygiene sensitive areas such as lavatories and meal trays –studies of two norovirus outbreaks on aircraft showed the contact trail from the lavatory via door handles and seatbacks to the seat and the tray.

 

Silver has been used for quite some time and shows no long term degradation; and the same is expected from the new agent – it has been under test for three years by an independent test laboratory with no change in efficacy noted. It has also been certified to meet FST requirements.

 

On a more general note, Jacob notes that aviation lags a bit behind the automotive industry when it comes to automation – 95% of vehicle interiors are sprayed by robots. But the aviation industry has also been catching up very quickly lately. It is important for Mankiewicz to focus not only the manual but also the automatic application during the product development and to adjust the products accordingly.

 

In addition, the company notes that its customers are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified personnel. However, some experience is required for the application of metallics. If this is not the case, Metallics can appear cloudy and uneven. Mankiewicz has developed a water-based metallic basecoat that eliminates human weaknesses while still achieving perfect, metal-like surfaces. This avoids unacceptable scrap rates on expensive items like seat shells.

 

Finally, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in sustainability in aviation and the company is no exception. He says there is research and development work into using renewable materials from plants and alternative energy sources for production, in addition to the water-based paints that have been availablefor decades anyway.


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