APS Coatings specializes in the coating of aircraft parts with metals or plastics to prevent wear or deformation, for example. This SME employs one hundred employees at its plants in Bordeaux ( south eastern France ) and Valenciennes ( northern France ), but especially in Noisiel, east of Paris. We went there to find out more. Although APS also treats car and watchmaking parts, in 2014, 45% of their 13.7 million euro turnover, came from the aviation industry.
Gilles Widawski - Chief Executive Officer - APS Coatings : "Ever since the first Airbus, we have applied the coating to their control columns, which are not only pleasant to the touch, but also hypoallergenic, and here, you see a whole range of aeronautical parts: connectors and handles, helicopter coupling shafts etc., including the very large parts such as the SaM146 turbofan engine exhaust housing."
For the exhaust housings down to the smallest of screws, there are a number of coating application techniques. Certain parts are dipped in chemical baths, others, like this one, are sprayed with an ultra thin 4 micron ( 0.0002 in. ) layer ; that’s one twentieth the thickness of a human hair. APS are investing in their future by consecrating 6% of their turnover in research and development.
Gilles Widawski - Chief Executive Officer - APS Coatings : "Here we are inside a plasma cabin. Plasma allows us to melt materials such as metals or ceramics to be sprayed onto metal parts. Recently we developed a cold deposition process, called Cold Spray, which not only produces coatings, but can also repair worn aircraft parts, or others, such as those produced in foundries."
Whether they be anti-wear, lubricated, insulating or adhesive, the coatings are laboratory tested to meet manufacturers’ and new European regulations’ standards. The SME recently acquired three of its competitors and this year plans to open a new site in Portugal.