Protection Against The Elements

One of the main roles of aerospace coatings is various types of protection against the elements. High temperature coatings can be applied to the engines and other components of the aeroplane that emit large amounts of heat. In some cases, the heat can wear down an engine and cause a significant drop in performance over time. For example; one company found out that the heat fused parts of the exhaust to one another, which clearly caused problems in performance. The electrical system is also prone to damage from heat, preventing it from working properly. Temperature resistant coatings protect the engine against short-term and long-term damage from the extreme heat emitted by the engine, ensuring that it will operate safely without a decrease in efficiency. Coatings like these have been used on diesel-powered aircraft, commercial jets, and supersonic military warplanes. They’ve even been applied to rockets and rocket launch pads. Other aerospace coatings protect the aircraft from corrosion and deterioration.

Types of Aerospace Coatings

Aluminum alloys are a very common construction material in the aerospace industry, and they tend to be extremely expensive. Over a long period of time, environmental elements can wear down the metal and shorten the lifespan of the aircraft. Corrosion can cause cause cracks to form and put considerable amounts of stress on the plane’s structure and rivets. Refurbishing or completely replacing an aircraft isn’t cost efficient, but it’s preventable in many cases due to aerospace coatings. Many of the coatings are composed of multiple layers of material. Chromate conversion coatings are resistant to atmospheric corrosion, and often form the base layer. A primer coating can be applied to provide greater adhesion for the top layer, durability, and corrosion protection. The polymeric top layer often contains compounds such as polyurethane, polyamide, polyester, resin, and/or epoxies. Additionally, an increasingly popular trend in the aerospace coatings market is the integration of state-of-the-art engineering like nanotechnology. Recent studies have shown that these types of coatings associated with nanotechnology are environmentally friendly.

Advanced Aircraft Usage

Aerospace coatings aren’t just limited to the realms of commercial and/or private sectors. They’re also frequently used by the military on extremely advanced aircraft. Coatings can enhance the stealth capabilities of fighter jets, like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. A large number of these are specifically absorb radar frequencies, cloaking the craft from the adversary’s radar. One of the more common methods of accomplishing superior stealth performance through coating features paint containing microspheric iron spheres, which are coated in carbonyl iron, ferrite, or quartz. They diminish the reflection of electromagnetic waves, significantly reducing the visibility of the plane. Others use high-tech foam materials to block radar signals from giving away its position. Some coatings contain small but long carbon nanotubes suspended in the coating, which have truly exceptional conductive properties. They effectively block light particles from the aircraft, and protect against an extremely wide spectrum of light frequencies like radio and ultraviolet signals.

Reduced Curing Process Times

A recent effort in the aerospace coatings industry is focused on reducing the curing time for coatings in order to allow the aircraft to be fully operational shortly after the coatings are applied to the plane. Some coatings require a long length of time to cure, set, and dry; which means that the aircraft can’t be flown until the curing process is complete. One company recently took on a joint project with the U.S. Air Force to develop a U.V. {ultraviolet} cured aerospace coating, and it also reduces the aircraft’s emission of volatile organic compounds {VOCs}. The coating is cured by the application of ultraviolet light via U.V. lamps. Due to the fact that it would require a long time to cover the entire aircraft in U.V. light, the coating was initially applied and cured in smaller sections. The final product was a 100% solid, highly pigmented, VOC free UV aerospace top coating which can be quickly cured using a portable UV-A light.

Aerospace Coatings and The Future

The aerospace industry is a constantly changing and rapidly developing field of engineering. It enables people to feasibly travel across long distances in a matter of hours, a sharp contrast from the era of long voyages on ocean-going steamships. A flight from New York to London can be accomplished in in well under eight hours, as opposed to a multi-day voyage across the Atlantic on a ship. Advances in aerospace technology opened the door to space travel, one of the most grand achievements of civilization thus far, and aerospace coatings are fulfilling an increasingly important role in the entire industry.