Although it can be relatively easy to observe coating damage on superyachts, identifying the causes of this damage is much more difficult. In this feature, we hear from the paint experts at the German company WreTec, a subsidiary of Wrede Consulting, who are now using a high-resolution mobile microscope to detect faults not visible to the naked eye. Photo: Wrede Consulting Indeed, this device would be the star among any series of forensic pathologist equipment. With their new electronic 3D microscope, WreTec scientists can accurately identify surface damage – at a resolution that lies far beyond the perceptible vision range. The tiniest details are luminously magnified up to 6,000 times and displayed as a three-dimensional image or video.
"With these high-resolution images, we can prove what was previously only suspected," explains WreTec Managing Director, Jan Reygers: “It means that we are advancing into entirely new dimensions in terms of analysing yacht coatings."
Photo: Wrede Consulting The high-resolution device not only identifies visible, damage but, more importantly, also enables the causes of this damage to be determined. "A flaking clear coat can be examined with such precision in-situ that we can deduce whether the coating technician had performed any sanding between the application of the individual coatings and whether the achieved surface preparation was sufficient," explains Reygers. "The equipment also enables other types of surface damage to be displayed and categorized. For example, whether the paint was scratched during washing or if a smeared layer of polish has spoiled the surface."
These findings are immensely important with regards to rectifications and determining the correct repair concept. This is vital when it comes to resolving warranty claims worth millions. "Not only are we able to determine problems that are present and what may be responsible for them, but also the rectification methods," continues Jan Reygers. He adds, "The decisive factor is that our microscope is mobile, i.e. we can carry out our investigations on-site – irrespective of the location, without undertaking any major preparatory work in a very quick response time. Real-time displays then assist in facilitating clear decision-making."
The possible fields of application for the device are as multifaceted as the problems that can arise with the coatings. "We can use the 3D microscope to undertake on-site investigations that previously required samples to be taken over a large area, which were then subject to time-consuming laboratory analyses," adds Pavel Jeljakin, Materials Scientist at WreTec. "As soon as the steel or aluminium has been blasted, minimal residues can be detected that lead to corrosion and bubbling of the subsequent coat over a large area. With painted aluminium, this is a frequently underestimated and, up to now, completely invisible defect."
Dust inclusions, inadequately mixed materials, air pockets or ruptured micro-balloons in the resin can also be clearly identified. Not to mention maintenance errors caused by incorrect washing or polishing, which can be seen with impressive effect.
To do this, the sensitive device can be set up at almost any location aboard the vessel: "Not only can we inspect yachts in dock or at their moorings worldwide – we can, where necessary, use it at any anchorage that the WreTec experts can reach.
WreTec developed these mountings for the mobile optics using a 25-tonne mock-up, which is available for training and testing purposes. "Only very few have this luxury," laughs Jan Reygers.
In this respect, WreTec benefits from its parent company Wrede Consulting, paint consultancy experts in the superyacht sector. For the company's CEO, Kay Wrede, the electronic 3D microscope’s introduction is the logical progression of his 30+ years of experience: "This device is a dream for us surveyors! Discussions have previously failed due to the lack of determining and proving the defect – but that is now a thing of the past!"
To find out more about WreTec contact the company using the details below.
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