Bordeaux . 14 June 2017. OliKrom, an international leader in smart pigments, has designed two disruptive innovations with Airbus for inspecting composite materials in aeronautics.

Just a month after announcing its partnership with Eiffage group for the development of photo luminescent paints to improve the visibility of road markings, OliKrom, a Bordeaux-based SME, will present the results of several years of R&D with Airbus at the Le Bourget Show. They have created two major innovations in the field of coatings that are sensitive to external stimuli: pressure or temperature. Here are the explanations.

The smart pigments developed by OliKrom allow the creation of ink and paint which are sensitive to changes in their surroundings. Concretely, this means that the coatings change colour when there is a change in temperature (thermochromic property), light (photochromic, fluorescence and/or phosphorescence properties), pressure (piezochromic property), a solvent (solvatochromic) or a gas (chimiochromic property). Numerous and varied applications extremely sturdy, programmable, a choice of reversible (or not) colours… OliKrom coatings offer a broad range of potential applications at the service of safety and traceability.

The genesis of the R&D project co-developed by OliKrom and Airbus initially concerned the detection of impacts on composite materials. The risk of impact during transportation of the different parts of an Airbus from all over Europe to the final assembly line, or even during assembly, cannot be ruled out. OliKrom and Airbus have developed a paint that makes it possible to detect by the naked eye any impact over a defined threshold.

The colour of the paint changes according to a change in pressure following an impact. Alongside this initial project, a heat-sensitive coating for detecting even very localised overheating* on parts located near hot areas, such as engine covers, has also been developed. Again, the aim is to improve safety and quickly identify minor incidents such as hot air leakage in order to plan maintenance work in case of potential risks of damage.

“Heat-sensitive technology already exists, but the chemistry developed by OliKrom provides a higher level of accuracy in terms of temperature transition thresholds, as well as more lasting performance, which is vitalin aeronautics “, explains Sophie Senani, Research Engineer in surface treatment at the Airbus Research Center. “The value added of our partnership is an undeniable synergy. Our expertise in aeronautic materials combined with that of OliKrom in smart pigments generates highly innovative solutions to our needs. OliKrom is also an industrial company, which is clearly an advantage because their approach consists in proposing finished products to markets. This speeds things up in the search for solutions , “she concludes. This project received the Innovation Award at Surfair Congress 2016