There are many different options to remove paint from the surface of an aircraft. Over the life cycle of aircraft used commercially, privately, or in the military, most will be repainted every four to ten years depending on use, wear, and paint durability.
To provide the best quality surface for the paint, the existing layer or layers of paint must be removed. In addition, other materials such as oil, rubber, sealant, and other possible contaminants also need to be removed to create a consistent surface to allow the paint to bond to the aluminum.
The different options for aircraft paint stripping have various advantages and possible disadvantages to consider. Knowing the pros and cons of each helps to choose the best one.
One of the options for aluminum aircraft paint stripping is the use of various chemical options. While less dangerous than the old method of using methylene chloride, they are still considered dangerous for workers as well as potentially damaging to the surfaces of the plane.
All chemical stripping requires specific temperature considerations, and the correct stripping chemical must be used for the process. The waste produced by the processes also must be correctly disposed of as it is considered a hazardous material.
A highly effective and environmentally friendly option in aircraft paint stripping is the use of abrasive materials. Plastic media is blasted onto the surface, effectively removing all organic coatings and paint.
The plastic media can be reused, making it a cost-saving consideration for the process. Additionally, it does not damage the aluminum while leaving a higher quality stripped surface.