Automated Sanding of Aircraft Coatings
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Current survivability and engineering requirements for airframe platforms necessitate the automated application of numerous specialty coatings onto critical surfaces. One such critical surface is an airframes inlet duct OML surface. These specialty coatings have tight specification tolerances for the final thicknesses and surface finish. Sanding is required to meet the final thickness and surface finish requirements. The current process for sanding and masking is entirely manual, comprising 60-70% of the process labor associated with coating the inlet ducts. Coatings such as MagRAM (Magnetic RADAR Absorbing Material), which are typically highly loaded with fillers, require extensive sanding process time to achieve specification thicknesses for field areas and tapers. Due to the shape and geometry of the inlet ducts, ergonomics associated with performing the sanding process are substantially reduced, resulting in awkward operator positions, reach issues, inability to provide the best possible tool control, and others. Sanding processes and equipment need to be developed and tested to reduce the process time for coatings application. Robotic sanding of the multiple specialty coatings provides a controlled sanding process which can repeatably produce the intended results while reducing process time, labor, rework, and safety and environmental issues. A new prototype sanding tool can be developed which will incorporate force control, compliancy, speed control and vacuum recovery into a robotic end effector which can be interchangeable with other end effectors on the same robotic tools in use on existing systems.
Small Business Information at Submission:
351-F Electronics Blvd Huntsville, AL 35824
Number of Employees: