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Corrosion and Erosion Protection from 3M

Introduction to Polyurethane Protective Tape (PPT)

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 erosion and corrosion on a wide range of components. 
Both erosion and corrosion are costly to repair, and so prevention is always a better approach to take.


Erosion

 

In aerospace engineering, erosion 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 lasted 78 minutes exposed to 500mph rain before the paint underneath began to break. Paint alone lasted for a maximum of 15 minutes in the same test.


Protective sheet on roll

Corrosion

 

Corrosion on the other hand 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).

Demonstration diagram

Application Solutions

3M Polyurethane Protective Tapes in both rolls and preformed boots can be applied quickly and easily by following the specific steps outlined in the appropriate technical data sheet. To support the application process, a range of complimentary items are also available, include cleaning chemicals, application tools and masking tapes.

We also have a variety of product specific application videos that you can find on some of our products.


Preformed Polyurethane Protective Boots

 

Alongside the traditional rolls of tape, 3M also supply a range of tapes in preformed boots.

Each boot is thermoformed for a precise custom fit over painted or unpainted surfaces, then the high-strength acrylic adhesive backing keeps it in place, providing an aggressive bond against extreme shear forces and shielding against erosion, abrasion, minor impact, fluids and damaging UV rays.

The current range of 3M polyurethane protective boots available at Silmid can be found here. Please note other sizes and platforms are available – please call your account manager for more information.


Protective boot being added to plane

Cocure Films

The above polyurethane tapes and preformed boots are used in retrofit applications. However, 3M also supply a range of cocure films – a revolutionary, erosion resistant integrated system that can extend the life of composite parts.

These films can be repaired using the 3M Scotch-Weld Repair Pastes, reducing AOG downtime while still maintaining a durable yet lightweight protective finish.

Learn more on Advanced Composite Protection:3M™ Cocure

Future proof your planes text