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Laser Paint Mapping System


thicknesses of paint layers on an aircraft or on aircraft components, thereby enabling the removal of paint or primer via laser projection without causing damage to substrates. DESCRIPTION: current standard practices for aircraft “depainting” include hand-sanding, chemical stripping, media blasting, among other means. Manual sanding involves sanding of existing paint layers before application of new paint. This practice is labor intensive and increases the weight of the aircraft by not removing unnecessary paint and/or primer layers. Sanding also generates dust containing materials hazardous to workers. Chemical stripping and media blasting removes all paint, but cannot be utilized on all substrates and also generates substantial amounts of hazardous waste. One solution to these issues is the use of robotic laser depaint technology. Current robotic laser stripping systems are limited by color-based sensors, leaving the potential for imprecise paint removal and costly substrate damage, particularly when employed on composite airframes. A technology is being sought to measure the varying thicknesses of paint in real-time compliant with the width of the laser raster such that laser power can be controlled by the measured thickness and layer type. This data will be modeled in three-dimensional (3D) form for review. The mapping data should exhibit extreme precision and accuracy and the 3D model shall be capable of differentiating between paint, primer, and other common materials. This high level of detail will allow for precise dynamic adjustments in laser power to ensure thorough removal of all paint and primer layers without damage to the aircraft. Applications for this technology span both military and civilian realms. For example, the application can be used for either on-aircraft or off-aircraft depaint operations in military and private aircraft maintenance and similar operations. This technology development would prove to be new and useful among the state of the art. PHASE I: FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION. For this Direct-to-Phase II topic, applicants must demonstrate feasibility by showing the ability to measure thickness of paint layers. Applicants must demonstrate accuracy of laser paint stripper to adequately respond to mapping data. PHASE II: Develop working prototype to measure and map paint thicknesses over complex aircraft components. Complete successful robotic laser paint stripping utilizing mapped data. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Refine hardware and software to increase accuracy and reliability. Achieve production-ready state for marketing to the Air Force, other related federal agencies, and private industry. REFERENCES: 1. 1. Ceballos, D., West, C., Methner, C.-S., & Gong, W. “Evaluation of Chromium, Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, and Isocyanate Exposures in an Aircraft Refinishing Plant.” May 2017, 2. Jordan, Holly. “AFRL Helps Enable Laser Paint Removal Technology.” Wright-Patterson AFB, 6 Feb. 2018, removal-technology/. 3. Verger, Rob. “The Best Way to Strip Paint off a Fighter Jet? Laser-Wielding Robots.” Popular Science, 19 Nov. 2019, KEYWORDS: laser; depaint; mapping;
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