How do I select the right aircraft sealant?
Aircraft sealants have different properties depending on the area of application they are designed for.
Fuel Tank Sealants
Access Door Sealants
Window & Canopy Sealants
Each sealant is also different in the way it cures. Recent regulatory changes in the European Union has seen the phasing out of dichromate cured applications, with most manufacturers now opting to pursue manganese dioxide cured solutions that are REACH approved and safer for the user.
More often than not, sealant selection is driven by OEM specification. Major manufacturers such as Boeing, Airbus and Embraer have an approved list of sealants for each application based on rigorous testing, so it is important to ensure that the sealant choice you are making carries the correct approvals.
While selecting the right sealant is the first step, additional decisions need to be made that will affect the application of the sealant itself.
Sealants can generally be classified into 3 classes – A, B and C – although an S class does apply in some cases where a sealant can be sprayed.
Class A – Brush application, generally used on fasteners
Class B – Thicker consistency, used for fillet and injection seals
Class C – Thinner than Class B, used for fay sealing
Different application times are important as the nature of the work being carried out will vary depending on application. Where there is a large surface to be covered, a longer application time is necessary to ensure that the first product applied does not cure before the application work has been completed. Shorter application times are essential for time critical work, where the seal needs to be almost immediate.
The packaging type will generally be concerned with two variables – volume of product required and the mixing process being used. Small volumes, for applications in multiple areas or by multiple users, are packaged into cartridge systems referred to as Techkits (manufactured by Techcon and generally used by 3M and Naftoseal) or Semkits (manufactured by Semco and used by PPG). These contain both the base and accelerator in one pack, and are mixed (either by hand or with the use of a mixing machine) using a piston rod sold as part of the kit.
For larger applications, or where a different mixing process is used, these products are supplied in separate tins (base and accelerator separate). These require closer attention to mixing ratios, as well as other application equipment including mixing sticks and dishes to hold the material).
PPG PR1440 B-1/2 150ml Semkit
3M AC-350 B-2 1USQ Kit
Naftoseal MC-650 Class B-1 130ml Techkit-130
Brand – The manufacturer who makes the specific sealant.
Product Number – This is the manufacturer’s name for the specific sealant product being used.
Class – This denotes the consistency of the product, and therefore the specific applications it should be used for.
Application Time – The length of time that the sealant is workable before curing.
Size – The volume of product contained in each pack
Package Type – the type of packaging will determine the potential applications and mixing required
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