I’ve seen this small piece of the refurbishment puzzle throw entire refurbishments off schedule and delay projects for weeks. It’s a standard part of the material ordering process and provides a lot of value. Unfortunately, it’s also a part of the process that you don’t have a lot of control over.

Dye Lots.

A dye lot refers to the slight variation in color that occurs when producing the new stock of material. In aviation, most everything specified in the cabin is from a unique dye lot, including the carpet yarn to the leather dye.

If you haven’t gone through a refurbishment before, you may be wondering, why does this matter? In aviation, dye lots uniquely affect the project. I’ll start with the most obvious:

Visual Difference

Most of the time, dye lot variations are subtle. Problems can occur when you love a sample from a material library, but the new dye lot doesn’t look anything like the original sample.

Suppliers send a CFA (cutting for approval), so designers can make sure the dye lot is a good match to their sample or scheme. A QD (quality dye) sample is the same concept, but for carpet.

Approving CFAs and QDS is usually behind the scenes and doesn’t involve the client. A designer may need a client’s approval for CFAs or QDs that are slightly off but still go well with the scheme. 

Schedule Delay

If a dye lot is off, you may need to reselect a material and start over. This can be incredibly frustrating. In a custom order, you can go back to the supplier and have the color adjusted, but this takes time, which usually isn’t built into your refurbishment schedule. 

Your designer can help guide you to use suppliers they know will have great dye lot consistency to try and lessen the chances of this happening.

Burn Requirements

Due to the stringent burn requirements of aviation, additional dye lots typically mean additional burn testing, which can add to your project cost. Refurbishment facilities and aviation designers will want to avoid using multiple dye lots for this reason as well.

I’ve also experienced a new dye lot of material not passing a burn test, where previous dye lots did. While this is unusual, it shows the unique nature of each production of the material.

The good news is there are a lot of ways your designer can help mitigate any potential problems with dye lots. The value here is having someone who will proactively address dye lots for your project and be ready with plan B in case a problem does arise to help keep your project on schedule. 

What’s been your experience with dye lots? Have you ever had to review a problematic CFA or QD?