Fixed-wing or rotorcraft, prop or jet, there’s one thing that every private and business aircraft owner/operator has in common: they all want their cabin to reflect their unique taste and style. And in the majority of cases, the materials, coatings, and finishes required to meet those demands represent a myriad of challenges to the aircraft’s completion center.
“Our customers are looking for more options when it comes to the variety of finishes available for their interior completions. They want the same selection of fabrics and finishes for their aircraft that they have for their homes and offices,” says Jared Stauffer, manager of interior modifications for Duncan Aviation’s Lincoln Facility. “That can present significant challenges when you’re dealing with the number of certification and safety requirements and restrictions that apply to aircraft interior components.”
As an established leader in cabin completions and refurbishing, Duncan Aviation’s team has found a way to give customers what they want while meeting all of the certification and safety requirements. “We’re always on the lookout for new ideas outside of aviation that will keep us on top of the game and offer unique solutions that will create a memorable experience for the owners and their guests,” he continues. “One of the newest is hydrographic printing technology. It opens up a variety of aesthetic options for interior finishes without many of the restrictions of traditional methods.”
Using hydrographic technology, Duncan Aviation’s technicians can literally “print” a replication of any material onto practically any interior component’s surface. And they can do it in a fraction of the time it would take to produce that part out of the same material, saving customers valuable aircraft downtime.
Alchemy for business aviation.
“Hydrographics have been around for a long time, but it’s new to aviation. We began testing it several years ago and really liked the options it gave us for different ways to cover interior parts and components,” Stauffer says. “For example, it provides new looks to countertops, cabinetry, and sinks that can only be created with lightweight materials that often already exist in the aircraft.”
He goes on to explain how Duncan Aviation’s hydrographic capabilities give its interior designers the ability to replicate a wide variety of textures, materials, and designs in the aircraft’s cabin while keeping the finished parts as light as possible. For example, a countertop can look like rare granite, but at a fraction of the weight – and cost.
“Many times, these genuine materials can create challenges with regards to thickness, weight, and lack of flexibility. All that adds to the complexity of the engineering design, fabrication, and installation,” Stauffer says. “Hydrographic technology nearly eliminates all of these issues, as well as the need for special edge treatments. Plus, we can print the desired finish on even the most complex shapes.”
Faux finishes are not for everyone.
Even with the uncanny ability to mimic virtually any natural or man-made materials, Stauffer stresses that as good as they are, Duncan Aviation’s hydrographic printing solution is not for every customer.
“Many of our customers will only settle for the absolute best in materials, design, and quality – that’s why they come to Duncan Aviation in the first place,” he says. “But, even in those cases, we can use hydrographic printing to give interior accessories and components a truly unique look.
“It’s a great way for our customers to be able to fully customize the interior of their aircraft by accenting the look of high-end woodwork and materials,” he adds. “But, the most important part of it is that the look and feel of the final piece are of the utmost highest quality. That is what Duncan Aviation has always been known for. Anything less, and we wouldn’t offer it.”