e. Luterbach installs new aircraft paint shop in the United Arab Emirates
Dr. Astrid Günther
Hot – more than 45°C are not uncommon here – and sandy these are oftentimes the first associations coming up in connection with Abu Dhabi. Economically, it is probably the oil industry that most people link to the Arabic country. To diversify the industry, however, intensive investments have also been made in other industry branches. The plant manufacturer e. Luterbach benefited from this. Based on its relevant experience in the field of aircraft coating, the Swiss company was commissioned to build a new paint shop in Abu Dhabi. Construction began in 2017 and the finished plant was put into operation in July 2018. “This was an extremely exciting multinational project,” says Fabian Luccarini, CEO and co-owner of e. Luterbach and continues: “The environmental conditions we had to face were extreme. The working conditions also took some time getting used to. The building site was within a military area. As a result, everyone who wanted access had to go through a licensing process.”

The operator of the new coating plant is the Arab company Tawazun Precision Industries, TPI. The company produces aircraft components for Airbus and Boeing, among others. e. Luterbach supplied the complete coating technology for the production, which works with a cycle time of 8 min. The workpieces first pass through an electroplating process and then enter the organic coating. Among other things spars and frames, which are later used in the fuselage and wing area of aircrafts, are painted there. “Due to the complex and divers geometries, a complex masking process is often necessary prior to coating.” says Luccarini.

Behind the transfer station, the workpieces enter one of three painting booths. Two of the cabins are operated semiautomatically, the third manually. In the automatically operated booths is designed for the coating of components up to a size of 5000 x 400 x 2000 mm, while the manual spray booth is designed for components up to 5000 x 1600 x 400 mm. The coaters apply wet coatings to the workpieces with a maximum weight of 540 kg. Care is taken to ensure that a processing temperature window of 23°C-25°C and an air humidity between 40-60% can be achieved. This is a challenge in the desert state, with low temperatures early in the morning requiring heating from time to time and a need for cooling due to temperatures beyond 40°C shortly afterwards.

The exhaust air from the cabins is cleaned with a filter system consisting of filter mats and floor extraction. After the components are coated, a P&F system, installed by Woelm GmbH, automatically feeds them into the flash-off zone. The paints are then cross-linked in three ovens. Two of them are installed vertically above the plant and can be equipped with small to medium-sized components. “For large workpieces, an oven on the ground level is available. This means that the optimum solution is available for every requirement,” concludes Luccarini. The paint dryers used are circulating air ovens that can be heated up to a maximum temperature of 140°C. After the paint has crosslinked, the workpieces pass through cooling zones before they are freed from masking at the demasking station. Using inkjet technology, it is now possible to label the components, which ultimately pass through quality assurance before they are picked and prepared for dispatch.

Further information:
e. Luterbach AG, CH-Hildisrieden, Fabian Luccarini, Tel. +41 4146260-06, luccarini@luterbach-ag.ch, www.luterbach-ag.ch
Woelm GmbH, Heiligenhaus, Peter Frohs, Tel. +49 2056 180, contact@woelm.de, www.woelm.de