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Automated Precision Coating Removal



OBJECTIVE: Develop an automated or semi-automated coating removal capability to improve the quality of and increase the speed of 'Racetrack' coating removal on advanced Fighter and Bomber aircraft. 

DESCRIPTION: Advanced weapon systems employ several coating layers in a 'stack-up'. When a coating layer fails, maintainers must sand down to that layer, "race-tracking" the outer layers so that they can 'tie-in' coatings of a given layer when reapplying materials. This removal technique can be compared to a step-sanded composite scarf repair, but in thick coatings on top of the composite instead. A compact, portable, system is that is automated, or semi-automated to remove coatings in the aforementioned 'race-track' fashion is desired. The system must remove a 1 sq ft area in less than 1 hour, including set-up and tear-down. Coating layers range from 4 thousandths of an inch in thickness up to 100 thousandths of an inch. The developmental system must be able to race-track on single and doubly curved surfaces but phase I demonstrations can be done on flat surfaces. 

PHASE I: Develop a precision, computer controlled system using mechanical abrasion/cutting or laser ablation to remove coatings. System must not damage glass or carbon fiber substrates through excessive heating or mechanical impact. Demonstrate precision coating removal on a flat substrate with precision approaching single-digit hundredths of an inch. Begin development of hardware/software for coating removal on doubly curved surfaces. 

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate precision coating removal on doubly curved surfaces with depth precision (Z) of 4 thousandths of an inch. X and Y Precision is desired in hundredths of an inch. Material removal rate must remove 1 sq ft area in racetrack fashion at 100 thousandths of an inch in less than 1 hour, including programming, set-up and tear-down. 

PHASE III: The precision racetrack coating removal system shall go through ClassI/Div2 certification. This is required for all tools/technologies that are deployed at operational Air Force bases. Ruggedization and design changes based on the demonstration at the end of Phase II will ensure a production-ready design. Commercialization efforts will also be a top priority during Phase III. 




KEYWORDS: Sustainment, Coating Removal, Racetrack, Laser, CNC 


David M. Phillips 

(312) 785-0199 

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