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Corrosion and Erosion Protection from 3M

Polyurethane tapes have been around for over 50 years, and have applications across various aerospace platforms including helicopters, military and commercial aircraft. Each product in the portfolio is different, with products designed to prevent both corrosion and erosion on a wide range of components.

Both corrosion and erosion are costly to repair; prevention is always a better approach to take.


Demonstration diagram

In aerospace engineering, corrosion is the gradual destruction of the surface through the formation of iron oxide (rust) due to exposure to natural elements such as moisture and humidity. While liquid corrosion inhibitive coatings (CIC) are still widely used on the aircraft structure, polyurethane tapes are perfect for seam sealing and wide area protection inside the aircraft.

Within aircraft 'wet areas' such as galleys and lavatories, there is a risk of moisture seeping through to the floor beam structure. Aluminium beams used in aircraft flooring are particularly susceptible to corrosive damage, and repairs can cost thousands of pounds a time.

The 3M tapes available offer durability, conformability and puncture resistance, while meeting the FAA’s flammability test configuration standards for 14CFR 25.853(a).


Erosion, on the other hand, is the process of metal loss from a surface due to exposure to foreign object debris (FOD). Erosion more commonly occurs on areas such as the fuselage (belly), trailing edges, landing gears, cargo doors and antennas. On helicopters, the rotor blades are a key area for erosion protection, and this has led to the common term 'helicopter tape', used to describe 3M 8671HS.

Unlike traditional erosion protection coatings, tapes provide a uniform thickness and weight across the entire surface. There are no special tools required to apply, and can be easily repaired and removed if needed.

Compared to paint alone, polyurethane tape also provides prolonged resistance to sources of erosion. In one such test carried out at the University of Dayton Research Institute in 2020, 3M 8673 tape exposed to 500mph rain lasted 78 minutes before the paint underneath began to break. Paint alone only lasted for a maximum of 15 minutes in the same test.

Protective sheet on roll

3M Polyurethane Protective Tapes vs Traditional Coatings

generic 3M polyurethane tape

Compared to traditional coatings, 3M Polyurethane Protective Tapes present a range of advantages.

These tapes provide a consistent thickness and weight during application, ensuring reliable protection. Unlike traditional coatings, tapes do not have to be applied in the hangar, speeding up the turnaround time for aircraft maintenance. Additionally, their ease of removal and repair, whether through patch tape or repair paste, simplifies maintenance processes. Installation on the aircraft is hassle-free, not needing the use of specialised tools. Furthermore, these tapes offer a prolonged service life without the environmental concerns that can sometimes be associated with traditional coatings.

In summary, 3M Polyurethane Protective Tapes offer a practical and environmentally conscious solution for safeguarding aircraft surfaces.