Interior equipment specialist Diehl aims to avoid the use of decor foils on cabin surfaces with a newly-developed digital printing process.

Rainer von Borstel, chief executive of the German family business’ Aerosystems division, tells FlightGlobal that Diehl’s engineers have been working on the patented process for several years – and the technology is now ready for serial production.

A major challenge has been to the ability to print across curved surfaces – such as sidewall panels – without any distortions. But von Borstel says it is now possible for the company to print on “any” surface contour, whether the component in question was supplied by Diehl or not.

He foresees a “huge market” for the technology because, he says, it opens up better branding and decoration opportunities through full-colour pictures or geometrical patterns. Printing a motif or logo directly on a component also offers weight savings compared with traditional foils, von Borstel says.

Components need to be coated with a base colour before the print process can start. Diehl says that the printed surfaces are much more resistant to scratches and abrasion than painted surfaces, and are easier to clean.

Discussions with potential customers are just beginning, von Borstel says. He foresees demand from manufacturers, airlines and maintenance providers for both linefit and retrofit applications. He adds that Diehl has put in place sufficient capacity to start production on an industrial scale.

Diehl's digital printing process is in the finals for Crystal Cabin Awards at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The company has also made it to the finals with a cabin bar module that can be inserted in galleys instead of two standard service trolleys, and a system to transfer data and control functionalities of cabin equipment through an aircraft’s electricity network.

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Source: Flight Daily News