SYLMAR, Calif., Jan. 4, 2012 – PPG Industries’ (NYSE:PPG) aerospace coatings group has commercialized the first electrocoat-application primer for global airframe manufacturers and subcontractors to coat parts for commercial, military and general-aviation aircraft.
AEROCRON(TM) electrocoat primer by PPG Aerospace affords better corrosion protection than does conventional spray primer because electrocoating enhances part coverage, according to Mark Cancilla, PPG global platform director for aerospace coatings. It also provides nearly 100-percent product utilization, reduces primer weight for enhanced aircraft fuel economy, and eliminates worker overspray exposure, he said.
PPG Aerospace is working closely with customers during the launch of Aerocron electrocoat primer to enable them to gain product and process experience before ramping up, Cancilla said.
“As electrocoating was for the automotive industry, the process is truly revolutionary for aerospace primer application,” Cancilla said. “PPG has been a leader in developing electrocoat products for nearly a half-century, and today its e-coat products protect more automobiles produced worldwide than any other company’s. With our unparalleled knowledge of the e-coat process and unique understanding of aerospace coatings, PPG developed Aerocron electrocoat primer to meet the application needs of airframe manufacturers as well as the operating and maintenance requirements of airlines and other aircraft operators.”
Primer is applied to metal aircraft structures for corrosion resistance. While primer is typically sprayed onto metal parts, in the electrocoating, or electrodeposition, process, metal parts are dipped into an electrically charged tank of primer.
Robin Peffer, PPG senior research chemist at the company’s Coatings Innovation Center in Allison Park, Pa., was instrumental in the development of Aerocron electrocoat primer.
“PPG’s strong history of developing corrosion-resistant electrocoat products for automotive and industrial applications enabled us to adapt the technology for aerospace,” Peffer said. “The value for aerospace is to continue this history of providing protection while meeting the specific performance requirements of aircraft operators. Aerocron electrocoat primer coats parts uniformly, even in the recessed areas of complex-shaped parts, and at reduced weight, which translates to long-term aircraft operation savings.”
Andreas Tolz, PPG aerospace coatings technical projects manager for Europe based at the Gonfreville, France, aerospace coatings facility, leads the commercial introduction of Aerocron electrocoat primer in Europe.
“Aerocron electrocoat primer is formulated to help applicators get the most from the electrocoat process, providing a real breakthrough for the aerospace industry in several ways,” Tolz said. “For aircraft manufacturers and subcontractors, the electrocoat process can be fully automated and offers increased material utilization, making it a good ‘green’ choice. For their customers, it adds value to finished aircraft by providing better corrosion protection and lighter weight.”
What is electrocoat
Electrocoating, or electrodeposition, uses electrical current to apply a coating to a conductive substrate submerged in a water-based paint bath. The process can be fully automated.
After pretreatment, the part enters an electrocoat bath where a charge is applied and the amount of primer needed is deposited onto it. Once coated, the part is rinsed to remove any residual primer, and then it is baked at a temperature that accommodates the aviation industry’s unique needs. Aerocron primer is fully cured in about 30 minutes.
Advantages for the aerospace industry
Aerocron electrocoat primer is water-based for low solvent emissions. Compared with typical conventional spray priming, electrocoating provides increased productivity and efficiency, affording nearly 100-percent material utilization and no overspray. Also, the electrocoating process produces minimal waste because it returns rinses to the electrocoat bath.
PPG has qualified AEROCRON electrocoat primer to SAE International's Aerospace Material Specification 3144 for anodic electrodeposition primer for aircraft applications.