Developing products that excel

February 04, 2019

Innovative solutions to continuous challenges. That’s what our Aerospace customers expect of AkzoNobel. And that’s what the Development and Solutions Lab delivers. As Global Manager of the lab, Marc van der Geest leads the team that develops state-of-the-art coatings for the industry. So our customers can take to the sky with confidence.

For more than 15 years, Marc has been working in Aerospace coatings. Now, he leads our R&D teams in Sassenheim, the Netherlands and Troy, Michigan, USA. Together, Marc and his team develop the solutions that customers need most.

“My favorite part of the job is the diversity of topics we work on, and the technical issues we have to overcome. Every day brings a new challenge from a different perspective,” Marc says. “But it's a real pleasure to work with the dedicated AkzoNobel Aerospace team and have direct contact with customers. Together, we strive for the best solutions possible.”

Development through close collaboration

Marc says that customers turn to the Development and Solutions Lab to meet the needs of a highly competitive industry. “Aerospace OEMs and their subcontractors face ever-increasing build rates. We work closely with them to develop coatings that can reduce their process times, in order to help them keep up with the increasing pace.” And that means working closely with customers in technical meetings and application trials to ensure that project goals remain on track in this highly demanding environment.

Performing under pressure

In addition to meeting customers’ need for speed, it’s essential that our products are high quality and high performance, of course. “One of our biggest challenges is to develop new products with reliable, predictable behavior. Aircraft operate in tough conditions. They need to be flexible and able to withstand wide temperature ranges and mechanical impact. They operate at high altitudes with much more intense UV radiation. Our coatings must be able to perform under extreme conditions.” 

Achieving this level of performance comes partly from simulated, accelerated lab tests. But some aspects can’t be tested with absolute certainty. “It takes clever formulation and a lot of hard work to generate a wide variety of data. That’s the best way to demonstrate to customers that new products will perform as needed,” Marc explains.

Revisiting challenges from the past

In this fast-paced and innovative environment, one issue continues to challenge the R&D teams. “The Aerospace industry is one of the last bastions in which chromate must still be used in coatings to protect the airframe against corrosion. That needs to change,” Marc says. 

What many people may not know is that Marc began his career at AkzoNobel 15 years ago as an intern. His role? To study and explore chromate-free corrosion inhibition. “All these years later, it is still a very important topic in our work. Our entire R&D team is dedicated to bringing innovations to our customers. Ones that enable them to switch to more benign solutions.”

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