Safeguarding Sanding, Coating, Painting

Multi-Process Air Filtration for Aircraft Manufacturing

One Clean Air Solution for In-Tandem Sanding, Coating, and Painting

Aerospace and aviation components aren’t just large; they’re immense. Sanding, coating, or painting a single jet engine can require significant material handling and labor resources. Why? These manufacturing processes produce airborne particulates that can contaminate sensitive aircraft components, which is why they’re usually performed in separate designated areas.

Aircraft wings or other large workpieces can be difficult and time-consuming to transport to another area once sanding or coating is finished and the component is ready to paint. Every time a component is moved, there’s an increased risk of surface contamination from oil or dust particulates inside the hanger.

Permanent enclosures are one way to safeguard sanding, coating, and painting, but dedicated workspaces aren’t always logistically viable for space-constrained maintenance hangers and manufacturing facilities. This is why many manufacturers opt to outsource these tasks, even though it means added expense and a loss of quality control.

But, there’s a more cost-effective way to isolate airborne particulates produced by these processes. With a versatile industrial air filtration system, sanding, coating, and painting could all be performed in tandem in one workspace. This would require a custom clean air solution that is modular enough to adapt to each cellular workflow, beginning with painting.

Sanding

From traditional blasting to less abrasive methods, such as glass bead blasting, sanding is messy and potentially hazardous for aerospace and aviation manufacturing employees. Working with aluminum surfaces on aircraft components releases toxic hexavalent chromium particulates into the air.

According to OSHA, safety risks from hexavalent chromium include:

  • Rashes, swelling, and other allergic skin contact reactions, as well as damage to teeth enamel
  • Runny nose, sneezing, or coughing, as well as burning and itching in the nose and throat from inhalation
  • Nosebleeds, sores, or even stomach ulcers or lung cancer due to long-term exposure

Plus, aluminum dust can drift into every nook and cranny of delicate aircraft components and the shop floor, requiring excessive cleanup. Additional vac-sanding equipment can reduce excess dust, but this only covers about 80% of the toxic particulates, many of which are too small to see with the human eye.

Coating

Coating is also hazardous work because the chemicals required to prevent aluminum corrosion are particularly toxic, such as Alodine®, which is loaded with hexavalent chromium particulates. Aerospace and aviation manufacturers rely heavily on these coatings to ensure that every piece of the aircraft can withstand outdoor humidity or even salt air from overseas flights.

Disposing of the excess coating liquid waste requires employees to follow labor-intensive material handling protocols to comply with OSHA standards for waste disposal. Surface quality can also be compromised if coating isn’t conducted in a clean air environment. Airborne sanding particulates can compromise the coating gloss and can even prevent the coating from adhering properly to the aluminum.

Painting

Hexavalent chromium loaded paints also work exceptionally well at preventing moisture from corroding aircraft components during flight. Plus, before any paint can be applied, each workpiece must be sanded to remove any old surface coatings. Aerospace and aviation manufacturing employees then face a double hexavalent chromium risk from paint and sanding particulates.

Aircraft paints may also contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and isocyanates which, like hexavalent chromium, are designed to withstand several years of flight missions. Less toxic paints are not an option for protecting aircraft surfaces, as these paints tend to be less durable.

A Multi-Process Clean Air Solution

From respiratory irritations to cancer risks, aerospace and aviation manufacturing workers face a host of health threats from exposure to indoor air particulates produced by sanding, coating, and painting.

But, protecting employees doesn’t have to involve cost-prohibitive material handling and excessive man-hours.

Duroair industrial air filtration technology, paired with a flexible clean air enclosure, can be custom-engineered for aerospace and aviation cellular workflows. A single retractable enclosure may include a six-stage air filtration system with two exhaust units specific to both sanding and coating/painting airborne particulates. This customization enables workers to simply change out the filters specific to the tasks being performed in the same enclosure.

Each enclosure, paired with Duroair multi-stage filtration technology, can:

  • Capture the heavier, solid hexavalent chromium particulates produced by sanding or grinding in the first three filters
  • Attack the smaller, gaseous hexavalent chromium particulates produced by painting via redundant carbon and UV-light filtering (last three filters)
  • Capture 100% of airborne particulates, including hexavalent chromium and VOCs

Duroair can engineer an industrial air filtration system to collect air particulates and filter clean air to the outside. Or, if air makeup costs are an issue, we can design a system that isolates and contains particulates, then recirculates clean air back into the building. Recirculating the air can also speed dry times for coating and painting.

A single clean air solution can reduce the cost of sanding, coating, and painting by half, when looking at the time and material handling previously needed to perform each process in a separate designated clean room. Most importantly, this type of industrial air filtration can protect your most valuable assets – your employees.

Duroair custom-engineers clean air solutions to reduce overhead costs for specific, multi-process tasks. Our clean air experts can provide an in-depth evaluation of your hanger or facility to create an industrial air filtration system that will meet your budget and work with your floor plan and space limitations. Contact our industrial clean air experts today for a free consultation.

Category Feedstock Materials Feedstock Form Binding/Fusing Most Prominent Potential Hazards
Material extrusion Thermoplastics (may include additives) Spooled filament, pellet, or granulate Electrical heating element-induced melting/cooling Inhalation exposure to VOCs, particulate, additives; burns
Powder bed fusion Metal, ceramic, or plastic Powder High-powered laser or electron beam heating Inhalation/dermal exposure to powder, fume; explosion; laser/radiation exposure
Vat photopolymerization Photopolymer Liquid resin Ultraviolet-laser induced curing Inhalation of VOCs; dermal exposure to resins and solvents, ultraviolet exposure
Material jetting Material jetting Photopolymer or wax Liquid ink Ultraviolet-light induced curing Inhalation of VOCs; dermal exposure to resins and solvents, ultraviolet exposure
Binder jetting Metal, ceramic, plastic, or sand Powder Adhesive Inhalation/dermal exposure to powder; explosion; inhalation of VOCs, dermal exposure to binders
Sheet lamination Metal, ceramic, or plastic Rolled film or sheet Adhesive or ultrasonic welding Inhalation of fumes, VOCs; shock, laser/radiation exposure
Directed energy deposition Metal Powder or wire Laser/electron beam heating Inhalation/dermal exposure to powder, fume; explosion; laser/radiation exposure
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