The use of special paints and varnishes in the defence and aviation industries

Special paints and varnishes are present in almost every industry. Even in the most advanced and demanding ones. An excellent example of this are the defence and aviation industries. Paints are subject to many difficulties, and every, even smallest detail or parameter, is extremely important. Works with varnishing, maintenance, or renovation of aircrafts should be carried out on time, efficiently, and with keeping high quality. The paints themselves must be meticulously selected and often fulfill more and one task, which is possible thanks to nanotechnology, among others.

Why special paints and varnishes?

Until recently, the use of regular paints in aviation had been the norm. The aircrafts were painted with classic metallic varnishes. Currently in use are the state-of-art paints which fulfill many functions, even the least obvious ones. Sometimes in the aviation industry, automotive varnishes, which can be adapted to the aircraft painting, are used. Aircraft painting is a process which demands precision. Light and ultralight models should be carefully weighed before and after painting, because every additional kilogramme is worth its weight in gold in this case.

Currently, special coatings, resistant to the environment, are used in the build of durable and lightweight models. Therefore, the armour is resistant to difficult conditions. Special paints and varnishes can neutralise neutron radiation, diffuse thermal radiation, absorb laser beams or superglues (sometimes sprayed over the army by the opponent), and even suppress electromagnetic impulses. All these prevent from the immobilising the equipment and paralysing the soldiers, and thus increases the chances on the battlefield.

The defence and aviation industries – warning-information function of special paints and varnishes

Special paints and varnishes in the defence and aviation industries serve many purposes, even the most basic ones. These paints are often used in other industries as well, e.g. in marking vehicles, Their most important role is the warning and information purpose. Thanks to it, the use of vehivles, machinery, and equipment becomes even more easy, convenient and safe, regardless of the conditions.

Fluorescent paints

Fluorescent paints convert ultraviolet radiation invisible to humans, thanks to which they emit strong, expressive glow. There are also invisible fluorescent paints available within this group, which remain transparent in the daylight; however, when exposed to ultraviolet, they glow in different colours. They are most often used in marking vehicles, transportation roads, mobilisation or assembly points. They are also suitable for production of all kinds of equipment, for example vests, as well as for warning markings.

Phosphorescent (glow-in-the-dark) varnishes

Phosphorescent paints at night release radiation accumulated during the day, which gives off the glowing effect. These paints are preferred by the army because they also work in situations where there is no access to power source. They can also be used in carrying out activities in night conditions, e.g. for marking the front sight and the rear sight of rifles, marking places and equipment which are supposed to be visible during blackout. Phosphorescent paints are used on aircraft devices as well as equipment such as compasses or map reading tools.

Thermochromic paints

Thermochromic paints change their properties (to be exact – colour) under the influence of the temperature. They are perfect for marking places which are especially vulnerable to failure in result of extreme temperatures. Thanks to such a pigment, it can be quickly detected. These paints enable, for example, a quick detection of overheating rifle or cannon barrels, tanks, or other equipment. They are also used on equipment vulnerable to low temperatures – paints help to avoid freezing. Thermochromic paints give many possibilities in the production of equipment; for example, a piece of information can be hidden with them which will discolour and become visible under the influence of the heat and touch of the hand. Thermochromic paints give enormous possiblilties in both defense and aviation industry. The coating created with the use of thermochromic paint is sensitive to temperature fluctuations, reacting in a desired way, defined by its creators.

Photochromic paints (changing with the light)

Photochromic paints colour under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, e.g. contained within the sunlight. This effect is reversible and once the surface gets to the dark place, the print discolours. They can serve a warning function, for example; the paint will alarm when the recommended dose of ultraviolet radiation is exceeded.

Electroluminescent paints (glowing under the electricity)

Electroluminescent paints are perfect for the controlled glowing effect. After plugging into the electricity, the surface begins to glow. These paints can be used in all kinds of markings. The special advantage is that the paint does not need the access to ultraviolet radiation nor prior „charging” – the glowing effect can be achieved immediately, regardless of the surroundings and external conditions.

Nanotechnology in varnishes for the defence and aviation industries

Nanotechnology has quickly become a keyword when it comes to varnishes in advanced industries. It allows to have control and create structures at a molecular or atomic level. These activities have a huge potential in creating varnishes and manipullating their properties. Special varnishes created with the help of nanotechnology are called „smart coatings”.

Self-repairing paints

Paints which are able to self-repair damages in them? Sounds unbelievably? Yet there has been a breakthrough relatively recently when a coating able to self-restore was created in Korea. These coatings are distinguished by a free molecular activity, therefore their self-repair effectiveness is very high. The varnishes are already used in the space industry – in painting space shuttles and rockets.

Leak-signalling coatings

In the aviation and defence industries, a quick detection of possible damages to machinery and vehicles is extremely important. Therefore, special coatings which immediately signal possible leaks or other malfunctions were developed. Thanks to them, a malfunction can be quickly detected and repaired.

Camouflage coatings

Camouflage is crucial in both aircraft production and arms industry. Although the durability of the coating, unfortunately, still leaves much to be desired, research on that is still ongoing thanks to its enormous potential. It can be already seen on the prototypes of a next-generation military equipment. Special powder varnishes must be adhesive, lightweight, extremely corrosion-resistant and, above all, should provide maximum camouflage. These paints reflect near-infrared radiation and that makes them almost invisible at night.

Antibacterial paints

In some paints and varnishes, nanosilver particles are used. Due to their functionality they are also called „functional coatings”. They show antibacterial properties, but that is not the end because, thanks to certain fillers (for example, silica), they also significantly improve mechanical resistance of a coating. Apart from this, they also provide protection against ultraviolet radiation and anti-corrosion properties at a very high level.

Self-cleaning varnishes

Machinery and aircraft for arms industry are designed in a way that they are primarily practical and useful. Thorough cleaning and maintenance of equipment is not easy, therefore, in order to save time and energy, special self-cleaning varnishes were developed. They have had their beginnings in automotive industry where they are used in premium cars. Special varnishes are both hydrophobic and oleophobic, hence water nor grease do not stick to them. It prevents from impurities forming on the body surface. The coating is perfect for difficult weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, or hoarfrost.

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