How Industrial Coatings Protect Military-Grade Aircraft

Hard chrome plating

Industrial coatings protect many different structures in a variety of industries. At a value of $6.8 billion, 352 million gallons of industrial coatings were sold in 2014.

When it comes to aircraft, which operate in harsh conditions and have lots of moving parts, sliding wear coatings and other protective materials are needed to keep the machine working properly.

According to the study “Synthesis, Characterization and Applications,” published in cooperation with the NATO Scientific Affairs Division, up to 75% of all the components in a jet engine are coated. In a high-performance military jet, these engine turbines are subjected to much more intense conditions than your average commercial plane.

High heat, elevation, atmospheric pressure changes, and combative situations are just some situations where hard coatings may be especially useful, but even when flying in normal conditions, turbines are still under a great amount of stress.

Friction and heat are the most common stressful conditions in the air. It takes a lot of power to keep military-grade aircraft suspended, regardless of where it’s flying.

The turbine blades often take the brunt of this stress, as their dimensions can be easily altered due to high-temperature exposure, and they can be easily chipped away due to debris intake. Thermal barrier and wear-resistant coatings are usually the best ways to combat blade damage and to prevent untimely repair or replacement.

Abradable seal coatings are also used in jet turbines. Abradable materials are coarse and have the tendency to wear away if exposed to more abrasive materials, leaving the protected material untouched. The primary purpose of this material is to allow for clearance adjustments due to thermal changes.

In the process, blade tips can be damaged by these abradable coatings if they have not been equipped with anti-wear coatings.

The coating materials for a military-grade aircraft should be top of the line. Whereas thermal spray coatings are often hard to apply to complex shapes, and hot dip coatings are hard to deposit evenly, innovative nanocomposite materials are gaining popularity. Diamond-like carbon coatings (DLC coatings), made from a combination of metal and diamonds, provide some of the most effective protection in an easily deposited, even-coated manner.

Whether it’s a for a military-grade aircraft or your car, modern engines deal with incredible extremes. Without the latest wear coatings, these engines would tear themselves apart after a few thousand miles.

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Sarah Todd

Sarah Todd

Sarah Todd, an investment banker, is a reporter and researcher for one of London’s leading media outlets. Formerly a trader and market maker at FTSE, she turned to media during the global recession. This website features some of her best and favourite articles, from all parts of the business world. Please let her guide you and your enterprise along the path to prosperity.