Coating Applications Within The Aerospace Industry
Coating processes have many applications in the aerospace and defence industry: to improve durability, reliability and performance of various components; to resist erosion, sliding and fretting wear or to improve surface quality; and to produce corrosion resistant coatings for combating pitting, exfoliation, oxidation and hot corrosion.
The Products Currently In Development
Currently in development are multi-functional nanocoatings for aerospace applications that can provide corrosion protection using environmentally safe materials; sense corrosion and mechanical damage of aircraft skin; initiate responses to sensed damage (chemical and physical); achieve optimal adhesion using environmentally compliant materials; improve fatigue resistance and display colour on demand. Lightweight, high-strength, thermally stable materials nanomaterials are desirable in aircraft engines. The overall engine market is worth £259bn at present. (Rolls Royce).
The Coatings Involved In The Defence Industry
In the defence industry, conventional paints are labour intensive to apply, and potentially hazardous to the people working with them. In addition, most of these coatings need to be touched-up by hand, which can hide damage to the metal or other substrate material. As a result, the total cost for U.S. Department of Defence corrosion-related problems at $10bn per year - $2bn of which is related to painting and paint-scraping operations. Currently, up to 20% of army vehicles are out of service due to coatings damage and repainting needs.
The Use Of Smart Coatings In The Future
Smart coatings could enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. There is also potential for vehicles that could change colour on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage, rendering tanks and other military vehicles hard to detect.