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AkzoNobel introduces an aerospace VR training program

Monica Ferguson   

General Aerospace aircraft parts multiple coating systems production environment virtual paint booth Virtual Paint Products

Photo: AkzoNobel.

AkzoNobel invested in a technology which mimics a customer’s production environment and multiple coating systems to train teams virtually.

The Virtual Reality (VR) based system, developed with technology specialists Virtual Paint Products, has been successfully trialled at AkzoNobel’s training centre in Michigan, and several portable units have since been designed for use at a customer’s own premises.

The VR headset immerses the trainee in a virtual paint booth, complete with anything from aircraft parts to larger-scale assemblies to the production floor itself. The system can be programmed with various paint specifications, such as the thickness of the coating required, and as the operator uses the spray gun, they can see whether too much or too little paint is used and look for inconsistencies in the way the coating is being applied.

Operator’s core skills are measured, from setting up the spraying session to the distance, angle, and speed at which the gun is used. The feedback is immediate, so trainees can react and change their technique to become more consistent. It will show where runs and sags occur, or where the wet film thickness is not sufficient or the coverage inadequate to deliver a smooth finish. It also helps them avoid common problems such as paint overlap.

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“The training is not only useful for onboarding new apprentices, but it is also great for teaching advanced skills to more experienced operators,” Jeremiah Treloar, chief executive of virtual paint products, AkzoNobel. “They can practice spraying more challenging parts with rivets, awkward corners, and curves, and in a moving production line. It effectively enables the painter to ‘walk’ the part before spraying wet material on it, and in doing so, it helps reduce the likelihood of defects. It also helps experienced painters to teach new painters techniques on difficult parts or assemblies.”

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