The paint used on aircraft exteriors is highly technical — and it’s evolving.
Marc Taylor, as director of sales for Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings in Andover, works to help customers improve their processes or solve any problems they may have in that area.
An aircraft’s exterior coating, or paint job, must protect it as it moves through wide temperature swings experienced when taking off in hot weather and climbing to high altitudes where the temperature is below zero.
It must also protect the plane from industrial pollution or salt water when operating on the coasts.
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“If you don’t have the right resins, have a good adhesion, your asset could be jeopardized for corrosion,” Taylor said. “Nothing goes on an airplane without a lot of time, energy, research and verification.”
And each aircraft manufacturer has its own requirements based on its materials and processes.
Andover is the worldwide headquarters for Sherwin-Williams’ aerospace coatings business. Cessna is its biggest Wichita customer.
Taylor was raised in Oklahoma City and received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. He earned a master’s of business administration from Baylor University.
He started his career as a systems engineer with the KC-135 tanker program at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
He then went into the heavy equipment manufacturing industry for three years before joining Sherwin-Williams six years ago.
You have a new line of aircraft coatings called Skyscapes you displayed at this year’s National Business Aviation Association’s annual convention that will be launched in the first quarter next year. What’s it do?
“(With it) we have extremely good performance from color retention, gloss retention, flexibility for designers to be able to use a larger color palette. From a process standpoint, it can save a lot of time and money for the people applying the paint (because of) faster drying times.”
You mentioned the new line is also better for the environment. How so?
“The materials cure at ambient temperatures, mid-70s, (as opposed to curing in cycles in ovens). It’s better for the environment because of the carbon footprint reduction, (less) heating and (less) energy consumption. We’re really, really excited about what this is going to mean for the aerospace industry in general.”
What’s the trend in aerospace coatings?
“We’re starting to see a lot more customers that want the effect of the mica — the metallic look — added to their overall whites, where today predominantly that’s .æ.æ. just a solid color. So in the sunshine, when you’re moving around, it’s subtle but it gives them more image to their coatings.”
“The striping colors. Right now .æ.æ. I think we have about 300 colors on our color cards. Really, the possibilities are infinite moving forward with what we’re offering come the end of the first quarter.” You’re getting ready to do an aircraft in Asia that will use 60 different paint colors on the plane’s exterior. Some airlines like elaborate paint jobs, right?
“That’s their image, that’s what they want to portray, and (the images) get pretty elaborate. (When you use 25 or 60 colors on an image, for example,) the time to process .æ.æ. goes through the roof. (Now), we’re having colors that dry in just a couple of hours. You can see how .æ.æ. the process can be shortened.” So what does that mean?
“For an airline, (the exterior is an) advertising billboard for Olympics or breast cancer awareness. They’re always looking to do specialty liveries. (With short drying times), they’ll be able to design far more intricate liveries going forward.”
How big is your international market?
“Internationally, it’s growing rapidly. I would say probably 15 percent, maybe 20 percent, of our sales leave the U.S. I easily see that up to 50 percent within the next couple years. .æ.æ. China is opening up, Asia, the emerging countries, Europe. We just see a shift where a lot of the aircraft are going to be delivered and operated in the future.”