High solids vs. low solids
"It is very different to paint using a compliant, high solid coating than a low solid coating," cautions Mack. "High solid coatings have a lot less solvent than low solids — it’s the solvent that is the carrier of the pigments, resins, and additives that make up the paint."
While the EPA warns of the dangers of excessive solvents, for the technicians, less solvent in the mix produces new challenges in the application.
"Equipment and its setup become very important when making the shift from conventional painting processes to high solids application," continues Mack. "Sherwin-Williams tries to help the end user properly configure equipment in order to promote a successful shoot."
The same holds true for objects to paint. The training center provides a variety of airframe materials for students to learn and practice the painting processes, or students can bring in their own materials.
Wax on, wax off
With so much riding on the success or failure of the paint job, upkeep is an integral element to the well-being of the finish.
"Some waxes can actually hurt the paint it is supposed to protect," says Mack.
And, according to Mack, you can’t use just any cleaner on aircraft. Scrubbing splattered bugs off the wing with abrasive pads will do more damage than the bugs ever did.
"Cleaners, and even waxes, can contain cleaning agents that can do harm to the thin layer of protective resin on the surface of the aircraft."
For this reason, Sherwin-Williams has developed its own polish and cleaners to work specifically with – not against – its paint products.
Customer feedback is important and encouraged at the training center. Not only will comments on the courses be helpful in improving the overall training experience, but Sherwin-Williams asks for feedback on the products in an effort to help its Research and Development team improve present and future offerings.
Dallas Finch, the Facility and Technical Director at the Aerospace Service and Training Center, offers that it’s no accident that the training center, color labs, customer service, and research and development are all under one roof.
"Excellent testing equipment certainly helps in the development and improvement of new products and improvement in our existing products," says Finch, "but ultimately, the customer input as to how the products perform in real-life, real-time situations provides the greatest influence in the work being done by our research team."
How long should a paint job last?
Mack explains that the life expectancy of a paint job is directly related to its care and maintenance. Granted, there are some aircraft owners who wish to have their planes painted every year, whether it needs it or not, but a well-maintained aircraft that is properly stored can last for many years.
The new training available at the Center provides attendees with the latest information on proper coatings application techniques and coatings-related matters to help them better serve their customer’s aesthetic, safety, and economic needs. AMT
Paint and Paint Supplies Listing
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