Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site



Vector Technologies Ltd.

Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Man vs. Robot: Who Paints It Better?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Comment | More

The aerospace sector is one area trying to determine whether robots can do a job faster and more precisely than humans.

Take airplane painting.

Two new videos, one from Boeing and one from Virgin Australia, boast of recent jet coating jobs and offer a time-lapse look at the projects.

In one project, human painters get the props; in the other, robots do.

While Virgin Australia took 1,200 man hours and turned it into a two-minute time lapse video, Boeing says its robots can complete what used to be hours-long tasks in a matter of minutes.

11 Days by Hand

Virgin Australia's video shows how the company repainted one of its Boeing 737s. Done by hand, the project took 18 painters 11 days and 260 liters of paint.

Virgin Australia displays 11 days of painting work in al two-minute time-lapse video.

Virgin Australia launched in 2011, and the company has been working to repaint its fleet with the new livery.

Boeing's Robots

Then there's Boeing. The Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer has taken to robots to repaint its aircraft, including the 777, which the company calls one of the world's most popular commercial airplanes.

In 2013, Boeing set out to increase the 777 program at a build rate of 100 airplanes per year. To accommodate the increase, program managers decided that a more efficient way to paint the planes would be to build a facility using robots.

This video from Boeing shows how the company uses robots to paint its 777s.

The system is known as ASM, or Automated Spray Method, and the company says it's a "big improvement" over using painters.

"We used to have about 35 or 40 painters," says Christine Shanks, an industrial engineer for the ASM project.

"And we used about four booths that we worked in, and we had a lot of crane moves in and out. So it was multiple processes, and we used about five days worth of flow."

But by using robots, "[y]ou're taking a product that took hours, and it literally lasted minutes," said Jason Clark, 777 Director of Manufacturing.

In addition to speed, robots make sure everything is accurate, Boeing explains. Plus, they can complete multiple tasks simultaneously.

"The robot has [two] different guns on it and will apply [two] different paints at two different thicknesses, simultaneously together in a seamless operation so you won't see the two different coatings," explains Ken Brewer, ASM Implementation Manager.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Robotics

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (2/13/2015, 8:35 AM)

The Virgin crew are performing the stripping of old paint, washing, applying the masking and removing the masking, none of which are done by the Boeing robots. The robots JUST spray the paint. Additionally, the robots have much easier access - it's just a wing, instead of an entire aircraft. Robot painting certainly can be quite a benefit - but the "hours into minutes" claim is overblown. It can be accurate only if you just look at application. Any painter knows that prep and cleanup typically take much longer than actually spraying paint.

Comment from David Grove, (2/17/2015, 10:01 AM)

I agree with Mr. Schwedt in that all of the factors are not identified. I, however, am very interested in robotic painting where conditions are very dangerous due to access or the environment. There were many times offshore that I prayed no one would get hurt because the conditions were so difficult. Now, being in Nuclear, I continue to see the advantages in developing this process.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Portable Blast &
Recovery Equipment
Trailer or skid mounted blast and recovery equipment. Systems designed for maximum versatility, environmental compliance
and overall cost savings.
Call 1-800-634-7278

SABRE Autonomous Solutions
Introducing the ALPHA1 Blasting Robot
Once installed and commissioned – simply

Industrial Vacuum Equipment Corp.
Hurricane Vacuums
& Dust Collectors
Vacuum and dust collector hose, filters and related accessories.

Novatek Corporation
Dustless Coatings Removal
Novatek Corporation, Dustless Coatings Removal Strip, clean and profile all dust free! Comply with new lead standards. Contact today: (866) 563-7800

HoldTight Solutions Inc.
Full Surface Protection for Up to One Year
HT 365 is a preservation, single component, anti-corrosive coating, a water displacing agent, a lubricant, and a penetrating fluid. It creates an imperceptible thin-film coating that offers excellent salt contaminant and humidity protection. Contact your HoldTight® representative or visit for more information.

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.
QUALITY MADE IN AMERICA —Available near you!
CLICK to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Tarps Manufacturing makes the highest-quality tarps right here in the USA — available nationwide.

Premium products for your blasting needs
Ready to use steel grit abrasives developed specially for air blasting applications.

Modern Safety Techniques
Modern Safety Techniques
With our unique LTCat, we can help to provide clean, safe breathing air to your workers. Take a look at our Breathing Air Systems, we supply at least twice as much charcoal as our competitors! Modern

Graco Inc.
Graco EcoQuip 2: Experience the Difference
While others claim their equipment is the same, none of them compare to Graco’s EcoQuip 2™ Vapor Abrasive® blasting line. Visit to learn more.

ABKaelin, LLC
Programs/Training/Monitoring for Silica, Lead, Noise, Beryllium, Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, Hazardous Waste*PM10 & TSP-Lead Ambient Air Monitoring*SSPC C3/C5


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us