Five questions to…
In every issue, the LARA team catches up with an industry figure to discuss their company’s latest activities, investments, upcoming challenges and opportunities.
Andreas Ossenkopf, director and head of aviation at Mankiewicz, paints a picture that reveals a pioneering company at the forefront of the aviation coating process – inside and out – for decades. This article first appeared in the June/July 2018 edition of LARA. To access the full magazine, please click here.
1.) Mankiewicz is world-renowned for its expertise in paint systems and processes. How has the technology of painting changed over the past few years? Is it a continual evolution?
Paint development is in continual evolution; as a response to the demands of all market players, chemical legislation and our own ideas. Continuous development and enhancement is a pillar of our corporate philosophy, too. Right now, UV (ultra-violet) drying and inkjet printing are high on the agenda to speed up processes and allow for even more complex designs. The automation demands of the industry are game changers as well. That’s why we have a big focus on developing paint systems that are so flexible, opaque and easily applied that a machine can also achieve perfect results. For example, with our ALEXIT SelfTex coating we offer a textured, homogenous surface, directly from the spray gun. The result is an evenly textured surface that always looks consistent, regardless of the spraying equipment used and the operator’s personal style.
2.) The need to reduce aircraft-on-ground processing times is constantly increasing as airlines seek greater operating efficiency. How has Mankiewicz contributed to reducing AOG time?
Our BaseCoat/ClearCoat system still has the most significant influence on the on-ground time of aircraft, as it significantly speeds up the refurbishment process. But it is not only the paint itself that plays a part, so does the application technique: The wild spraying method, which is unique to the ALEXIT BaseCoat/ClearCoat system, speeds up the process even further. Touch-up and repair solutions for the easy and fast repair of interior surfaces of aircraft directly at the airport may seem minor, but they are an important factor for keeping aircraft in service longer. Damaged parts can be easily repaired with the Mankiewicz Touch-Up Kits during a stopover.
3.) Can you talk about the increasing significance of sustainability considerations, such as reducing the amount of solvents used, layer thicknesses and waste? How important a factor has sustainability become in your business?
The demand for more sustainable paints and processes is based on chemical legislation, for instance REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) in Europe, but also from our own conviction and dedication to environmental paints. Water-based paints for interior and structural parts have been in our portfolio for decades and even coatings with distinctive design effects are available as environmentally friendly water-based solutions. For exteriors, the wild spraying technique not only saves on the amount of paint used, but also a massive amount of tape and masking paper, which are themselves hazardous waste. The longevity of coatings produced by the paint system, with proven colour and gloss stability for more than nine years, also plays a big role because aircraft need painting less often.
4.) How has the increasing complexity of liveries and the sheer volume of aircraft coatings globally changed the way that Mankiewicz’s customers must work? How important is the latest training and techniques in helping them?
Complex and colourful liveries are prime examples for the use of ALEXIT BaseCoat/ ClearCoat. The greatest potential for material and time saving is obvious with this. Fading techniques allow for very vivid kinds of 3D liveries as can be seen on the ‘Belgian Icons’ of Brussels Airlines. Most Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) providers worldwide are well trained with regards to initial application and repair techniques, and realise the full potential of the system. However, when it comes to very complex and detailed layouts, artists are needed to provide the artwork and get the most out of it. In the case of Brussels Airlines, artist André Eisele does the artwork.
5.) What trends do you see emerging in the company’s area of expertise, both with aircraft interiors and exteriors?
We see a trend for UV drying paints and automation and there are already solutions for both sectors. The ever-increasing demand for more aircraft asks for even faster application and thus automation like in the automotive sector. In the case of interiors, we see a further trend calling for textured surfaces. A certain degree of structure and texture can be a genuine plus, not only in terms of look but also feel, and it brings diversity to the surface properties of aircraft interiors. Textured surfaces appear softer and are more satisfying to the touch. When it comes to exteriors, the use of new materials like composites also calls for new coating solutions. One very important demand is a coating solution for the nacelles. Here the stress not only comes from movements that the aircraft and the wings make but also from strong vibrations that emanate from the engine. All this contributes to making a nacelle’s requirements especially complex, which is why we developed to meet the challenges. The ALEXIT FlexPrimer. Another trend is diversification by distinctive design: Airlines strive for a unique appearance, and paints can be used to achieve that goal.
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