Unlikely Game-Changer in
the War on Interior Cabin
By: Rick Roseman
It comes as no surprise to anyone that aerospace manufacturers (both OEMs and subcontractors) are waging war on COVID 19. The financial health, and in fact the very survival of some commercial air carriers, depends on how successful that war is - and how quickly the advances come. And although the current-most adversary is COVID-19, the warfare is being waged against any and all serious viral pathogens that might threaten airline or private aircraft passengers.
Up until now and quite naturally, the industry's leading players in this battle have focussed primarily on CABIN AIR and for good reason. With an airborne contagion, it's the obvious place to start and the part that most lives in the minds of air travelers. Several companies have made remarkable strides in removing microbial contaminants from cabin air. Among the most notable are Aviation Clean Air (ACA), in the US and F-List in Europe.
But certainly, cabin air is only one part of the problem. COVID 19 microbes (as well as regular flu viruses) can survive on smooth metal surfaces up to THREE days, and while almost all carriers have adopted strict policies for wiping down these surfaces after each flight segment, it's impractical and next to impossible to ensure that every surface we touch, are thoroughly decontaminated after each flight - not to mention DURING flight. Living viruses on tactile surfaces therefore remain a significant part of the threat, especially within the confined space of an airline cabin.
It's in this area that one rather unlikely company has just moved the ball way down the field. Based in Cibolo, Texas, a small community just north of San Antonio, SIGNATURE PLATING has developed a new and truly "game changing" process that will no doubt make all of us breath a little easier when getting on an aircraft in the future. Signature Plating now offers its durable clearcoat with an “antimicrobial” additive that not only protects its decorative finishes but those who will be handling the finished parts, including installers, cabin crews and of course passengers. With the growing demand for solutions to abate the spread of bacteria in cabin environments, Signature Plating's antimicrobial clearcoat can be applied directly to any metal part's surfaces.
Signature collaborated with one of its coating supplier partners to develop the antimicrobial solution which can now be easily infused with its clearcoat. The emerging trend for airlines, completion centers, MRO’s, and OEM suppliers is to provide interior products that have germ/microbe inhibitors imbedded in the specific materials to provide confidence with the flying public and to offer a safe cabin environment.
"As long as this clearcoat is on the part, it will provide the antimicrobial barrier" says Paul Sahanek, the company's President/Partner. The antimicrobial inhibitor is suspended in the clearcoat and is spread throughout its thickness. Signature's antimicrobial Clearcoat has been thoroughly tested, passed and certified to ISO 22196:2011 to reduce microbes on the part's surface. According to Signature, the antimicrobial will not allow the microbes to live on the parts surface, thereby preventing the spread of bacteria during flight, and at all times.
Signature Plating is now using their Antimicrobial Clearcoat on ALL of its parts requiring a clearcoat finish. When asked how long the antimicrobial's efficacy last, Mr. Sahanek says: "the antimicrobial properties last as long as long as the clearcoat itself last - which is most often measured in years of even heavy use." "Additionally," says Sahanek, "the same anti-microbial results occur in our anodized finishes as well - and were tested / certified by the same ATSM as our clearcoat."
So why is Signature Plating perhaps an unlikely developer of such a significant new breakthrough in the battle of viral transmissions? Well on the one hand, while the suppliers of plated surfaces and clearcoating are indeed specialists in the preparation of tactile surfaces, we most often expect such major breakthroughs to come from much larger firms with extended technological resources. It's therefore quite significant that a relatively small company has put their imprint on this very important new technology. In talking with Mr. Sahanek, it's rather clear that Signature is focused on becoming more than merely a high-end aviation plating provider. The company has made a number of strides over the last year that will sharply expand its customer offerings.
Visit the Signature Plating webpage at: http://signatureplating.com/
If you are attending this year's NBAA virtual exhibition, you can also visit Signature Plating's booth for a full range of their products.