Aircraft Fuselage Cleaning with Laser

Aircraft paint removed by laser Morning cleaning information

Coating removed from aircraft fuselage

An aircraft manufacturing plant in the UK accidentally double coated a section of 12 new aircraft in a special aviation paint that it could not remove. The accident was delaying the plant’s production schedule, reducing cash flow and negatively impacting on its relationships with customers.

A UK based international petrochemical company shipped a severely fouled styrene polymer bundle to Tube Tech in order to minimise costs as they own an identical changeover replacement already. A production anomaly led to a thick, hard, brittle deposit forming on the shell side of the bundle and also severe bend blockages in tubes. Our challenge was develop a method to unblock polymer from the U Bends within a small 2m square footprint in front of the exchanger so in future it could be cleaned in-situ, saving on crane costs, scaffolding, damage, gaskets, bolts and third party costs.  A triple lance feeding mechanism was modified to allow lances to negotiate and unblock the every U-Tube. The client correctly pointed out that it was a pointless exercise if only the straight section was cleaned and the hairpin bend left blocked. By using Tube Tech’s globally patented Plate and Shell Jet every last particle of fused polymer was removed, even from deep inside the bundle. All the tubes were unblocked, descaled and polished using the modified triple lancing method.

Challenge:

  • Aircraft throughout the world are covered in corrosion proof paint products designed to protect the aircraft material during flight.
  • By its nature these coatings are difficult to remove and most removal methods use chemical stripping or blast media and are used on 95% of the aircraft surface area.
  • The double coating of paint applied in this case made the challenge of standard paint removal doubly difficult.

Solution:

  • Using a revolutionary laser cleaning system Tube Tech quickly and effectively removed the two coats of aircraft paint.
  • Laser energy has minimal impact on a substrate and leaves no residue behind.
  • Tube Tech’s mobile laser cleaning systems along with trained operatives can access parts of the aircraft often missed by traditional cleaning methods.
  • As the most environmentally friendly form of cleaning, the laser can be adapted to many different kinds industry on a multitude of contaminants and substrates. Laser works by ablation – the aircraft paint is removed as it absorbs the focused laser light leaving the delicate substrate of the aircraft unaffected.

Tube Tech Comment

Mike Watson, Technical and Managing Director: “Our client was pleased with the speed and the success of the laser cleaning service. It meant the manufacturing plant could get their production back on line and restore the confidence of their valuable customers. The use of laser cleaning is becoming increasingly popular within the aircraft industry and Tube Tech’s advanced laser cleaning system, up to four times faster than any other available worldwide, is ideally suited to aircraft requirements.”

For more information or to discuss your cleaning challenge call us on +44 1268 786999 or e-mail info@tubetech.com, alternatively click here to fill out our contact form.


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