During its years of service, an airplane will be repainted several times. For instance, long overhaul airplanes are repainted on average every 7 years. Short overhaul airplanes visit the paintshop every 5 years. This maintenance operation takes a lot of resources. As an example, to repaint a BOEING 737-800, needs 11 days, 18 painters, more than 260 liters of paint and 1200 working hours. Every time this critical operation is performed, failure is not an option.

SOCOMORE has 50 years of experience and a complete range of market proven and cost efficient solutions to help you every step of the way.

Surface preparation before paint seems complicated? Many suppliers, many different products to use? Do not worry, we have you covered, with our pre-packaged solutions for MRO paintshop.

Surface cleaning and degreasing

Exterior cleaning of the airplane is done with an aqueous-based cleaner. During this first step, we seek to remove the stains and grease present on the paintwork of the airplane to increase the paint stripper action.

SOCOMORE SYNCLAIR A/C is a water cleaner MRO can use for external cleaning of aeronautical parts by high pressure washer, ragging or brushing.

Paint stripping

The paint stripping step when changing paint is very important. It can only start if the surfaces to be stripped are clean and dry. Before applying the stripper, all unpainted and sensitive areas such as parts made of composites or polycarbonates must be masked.

The product is applied manually by brush or by low pressure spraying. The application is done from top to bottom of the part to be treated.
The stripper must remain in contact with the paint to act. The contact time of the stripper with the treated surface varies depending on the nature of the paint, its thickness and the ambient temperature.

The last step of stripping is the removal of the paint. The action of the chemical softens the paint on the plane which blisters and comes off and falls to the ground. The paint and the stripper must be scraped off if they have not fallen off on their own, for this we use squeegees to remove paint residue while keeping the substrate intact.
If there is paint residue on the device, this stripping step must be repeated again.

SOCOMORE SOCOSTRIP A0103N is a gel paint stripper for aircraft, BOEING and AIRBUS approved and by other principals (-> see approvals) and in agreement with REACH. SOCOSTRIP A0103N is an excellent aircraft aluminum paint stripping gel.

Cleaning after final pickling

After the pickling step, a new cleaning is necessary. This involves rinsing the treated parts with pressurized water to which a water-rinsing cleaner is added for better efficiency. Leave the product to act for a few minutes then rinse with water.

MRO can again use our star water-soluble cleaner: SOCOMORE SYNCLAIR A/C.

Sanding and solvent cleaning

This step removes the last possible traces of paint. Once the paint has been chemically removed, surface appears differently depending on the OEM:

  • For BOEING aircraft: the aluminum surface appears
  • For AIRBUS it is the primer.

This layer should be rubbed with a strong sandpaper. This action removes stubborn pieces of paint that withstood the previous stripping step.
Following the sanding action, a solvent applied using a pre-saturated wipe, for example the SATWIPES C86 and DIESTONE DLS , is used for non-critical overall cleaning. The solvent allows the degreasing of the metal part and the elimination of dust caused by sanding.
SOCOMORE DIESTONE DLS has a strong degreasing power and it remains non-corrosive.

Surface Preparation

Activation of the surface by wet mechanical sanding (on basic primer or aluminum) with DIESTONE DLS and manual abrasion.
This activation could be done chemically with acid deoxidizer to be defined according to the Aircraft.

Water break test (for aluminium surfaces)

Its purpose is to ensure that no residue remains on the part to be treated and will not prevent the adhesion of the paint. The test takes place directly after the cleaning step. It is fast, simple and non-destructive.
The principle of this qualitative method is simple. The visual examination is based on the hydrophilic nature of the aluminum surface without contamination. When the part comes into contact with water, a continuous liquid film must form there. If no visual discontinuity is observed, it is considered that there is no residue on it. It is clean enough to go through the painting operation.

Degreasing/wiping with pre-saturated solvent wipe

During the water film rupture test, the drying step may be a bit long. We recommend using pre-saturated wipes, SOCOSAT 16400 type with DIESTONE DLS: its high volatility will allow a faster drying time.

Pretreatment with paint adhesion promoters

This bonding layer is vital for good paint adhesion of the aircraft. Once well prepared, the surface of the airplane is ready to receive coatings which will improve its corrosion resistance as well as the adhesion of the paint. During this step, a sol-gel is applied: it promotes adhesion of paint systems.
Our SOCOGEL B0202 Blue and SOCOGEL A0203 Blue are 2 of the adhesion promoters MRO use the most.

The aircraft is ready to proceed to the painting phase where 3 coats will be applied to the aircraft. They will not exceed more than 150 µm thick.

Surface Preparation and Pre-treatment Solutions by SOCOMORE

Do you need to paint a BOEING or AIRBUS aircraft? Do you want to reduce down times and save money?

We have fully packaged solutions for you! You can have:

  • 1 source of supply / logistics
  • 1 single order
  • 1 request from production to supply
  • 1 expert contact to talk about all the technical topics to maximize the quality of the preparation and surface treatment before painting