I am currently an engineering intern seeking to earn my degree next spring. I started working for the DECC Company in the beginning of 2016 and the only prior experience I had in the coating industry was when I used a can of peelable spray paint on my rims to cover up some rust spots.
In my brief one and half years at DECC, I can sum up what I’ve learned about the coating industry in three simple sentences:
Functional coatings have seemingly endless functions and an even larger amount of application methods.
It was overwhelming starting at a company that applied functional coatings when I didn’t know the first thing about the industry. A year and a half later and I am still learning every day about not only different types, purposes, and properties of the coating, but the many forms of surface preparation, masking and tooling, and packaging that comes with the application process as well.
Process development is as important as the coating itself.
Even if we were supplied all of our coatings for free, if we didn’t have innovative and efficient means of application, we couldn’t contend with our competitors. I recently helped DECC acquire a 3D printer to help with rapid prototyping and masking and I saw the enormous benefit that creative thinking had on our ability to adapt and provide a less expensive service.
Trial and error is inevitable.
When errors occur, it is always frustrating and discouraging and there might be the temptation to just blame the nearest intern, but hear me out… it is an inevitable part of process development and should not be feared. Creating a custom coating application process can be tricky and will certainly not be perfect on the first attempt. Constant communication with customers and other employees involved in the process is essential to overcome difficulties that can – and will – arise.
The world of coating seemed intimidating and unfamiliar to me initially, but during my time at DECC I learned that the recipe for success in the coating application industry is not near as complicated as the recipes for the coatings themselves. There must be a solid, cost-effective process, constant communication between persons involved in the process, and an eagerness to move past mistakes and try new and innovative ideas to better fit the customers’ needs. I hope to apply the lessons I’ve learned at DECC to the engineering career ahead of me.