A Bigger "WOW"

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Creating eye-catching airplane liveries is a business in which the imagination of designers may be restricted by the practicalities of applying paint to plane.

I discuss a new process called O3 from Color Craft in Inside Track in the Apr. 29 issue of Aviation Week that has caught the eye of airlines because it promises a much simpler method for transferring the mundane – warning signs – and the magnificent – jazzy designs – to airplane hulls.

The back story to Color Craft’s advance has two elements. The company wanted to create a unique product (naturally) and designers wanted a better chance to let their imagination run wild.

Several years ago, one of Boeing’s long-time design consultants, Teague, was developing a special paint scheme to “wow” the world, says William Postl, the design manager for Teague’s exterior design team.

He says that the scheme was “subtle but refreshing and had an airbrush flow of light blue to mica pearls.” That made it very challenging for paint hangar crews. But it was completed and looked great.

The problem? How to replicate such an artistic flair as many times as needed. “How could we take an illustration or even a simple graphic and apply an image and seal it to an airplane [so it could] withstand harsh weather conditions using a dry paint transfer process [with] a clear coat?”

The idea was passed on to Glen Darby and Richard Baird, leaders of Boeing’s paint team, and Dave Klinkman at Color Craft.

It took awhile, “but Klinkman made it happen,” Postl says. And in the process, created an image transfer process that has won Boeing’s recognition in a top supplier award this year.

For a video link of what O3 looks like, click here.

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