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Sunday, May 1, 2005

Tool Crib

3M Seals Interiors from Dirty Techs

Mechanics spend a lot of time cleaning up after their work, especially in aircraft interiors where a stray fingerprint or grease stain can leave a customer with a bad impression of the entire job. The engineers are 3M thought about this problem and spent a lot of time interviewing mechanics about how they deal with cosmetic-damage prevention and what kind of products they might like to help with their jobs.

The result was 3M's 64S58 Protective Tape, which comes in a variety of sizes for specific aircraft applications. "Customers were concerned about wear and tear on interiors," said Clive Freidenrich, a 3M senior account representative and aerospace specialist. "The biggest pain? Scratches in the veneer or a ripped headliner." Besides the pain caused by damage to a customer's airplane, there is the added cost of downtime to fix the problem and lost revenue to the maintenance company.

Some mechanics use easily available materials to protect interior parts, but those don't always work properly and can damage interior parts. Bubble wrap, Freidenrich explained, puts chafing marks on veneer surfaces.

3M's Protective Tape is designed to protect interior areas such as cabinets, upholstery, carpets, and other easy to harm parts like airstair steps and handrails. The 6.0 mil UV-resistent polypropelene film tape has a light adhesive on one side that helps keep it in place and also doesn't harm the protected surface. 3M tested the tape in an oven at 130 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 percent humidity and no adhesive transfer occurred.

The tape is available in a variety of sizes, which were selected based on the mechanic surveys. There is an 18-inch roll perforated every six inches that is useful for large areas. To cover small areas like cupholders and hand-rails, Freidenrich recommends the four-inch rolls, which are also perforated to make it easy to tear off the desired amount of tape. The carpet tape has no perforation because larger pieces are usually needed to cover carpeted areas.

3M has timed mechanics installing a full set of protective tape and found that two experienced mechanics can tape a Gulfstream V in just two hours and ten minutes. "You don't have to do everything," he said, "just the high-traffic areas."

3M doesn't offer preprinted customized logos on the tape because the logos might bleed onto the protected surface, but stickers might be a possibility. 3M sells the tape in kits, with enough material to cover 10 airplanes in each kit. And 3M will train tape installers to help make the taping job more efficient. 3M, www.3m.com (search for 64S58 Protective Tape).

Looking in Small Places

Rare is the aircraft that permits in-depth visual inspection in every nook and cranny. To make inspecting in hard-to-see areas easier, UniWest developed the US-1478 VisionProbe Finger Camera, a tiny high-resolution camera that can illuminate around corners and behind bulkheads. The Finger Camera has four high-intensity LED lights mounted around the lens to shine on the area being inspected. The lens is variable-focus to help zoom in on the targeted area, and it can be attached to other probe or the inspector's finger to help place it in the desired location. Images can be displayed on UniWest's US-454 EddyView instrument, along with that instrument's eddy current data. UniWest, 509-544-0720, www.uniwest.com

Bucket-Free Eliminates the Dirty Bucket

Need some convenient soap for a quick touch-up wash? Eagle One's Bucket-Free is designed to remove dirt by simply spraying the soap on a wet surface, scrubbing with a mitt or sponge, followed by a clean water rinse. Bucket-Free is ideal for quick cleaning jobs where a hose can't reach or where hoses aren't available, by using a portable water sprayer, for example. The advantage of using a product like Bucket-Free is that no dirty wash-bucket water gets on the airplane, just soap and clean water. Bucket-Free retails for $4.99 and is available from EagleOne, 800-432-4531, www.eagleone.com

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