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Color Matching High Durability Coating for Combat Vehicle Tires and Treads


OBJECTIVE: Combat vehicle tire/tracks represent a significant percentage of the vehicle"s signature. The objective is to develop a high durability coating to provide long term color matching for combat ground vehicle tires and track treads that matches the body color of the combat vehicle. The developed technology will improve the signature of combat vehicle by increasing the percentage of the vehicle addressed by camouflage coatings. DESCRIPTION: Currently, combat vehicles benefit from highly specialized paint coatings which provide significant reductions in detection by matching the vehicle"s color with the spectrum of their surroundings. This ability is the basis of camouflage. A significant amount of ground combat vehicles front and side image profile consists of tires and tracks. Currently, these tires and tracks are black in color due to the materials in which they are constructed (MIL-DTL-3100H). This means that a significant portion of a vehicle is left unaided by camouflage and is often in high contrast to the vehicle and environment. As a result, vehicles can be identified and targeted more easily and at greater distances. The goal is to develop a durable coating method to reduce the contrast between the vehicle body and their tires and tracks. Ideally this will improve the overall visible signature reduction of the vehicle. This includes all surface areas of tires and treads track pads (side walls, tread grooves and tread surface). A coating method is being sought to provide this color matching capability. Current mil specification colors include those defined in MIL-DTL-53039D. The Army"s primary camouflage colors are Aircraft Gray, 36300, Aircraft Green, 34031, Black, 37030, Brown 383, 30051, Green 383, 34094, Green 808, IRR Foliage Green 504, 34160,Tan 686A, 33446 and Woodland Desert Sage, 34201. Of these colors, the color of immediate interest for tire coloration is Tan 686A. The coating should have a flat or lusterless finish as described in MIL-DTL-53072 as tested by ASTM D523 - Standard Test Method for Specular Gloss. (Department of Defense adopted). Of particular importance is the durability of the coating material. It should be able to remain true in color and finish for the duration of the application lifetime. The material should be suitable for driving conditions on both paved and off road terrain. The coating should be designed to survive the high pressures and shear characteristics of rapid acceleration and stopping encountered with military combat vehicles. The coating needs to retain its conformity to the tire and track elastomeric material. The thickness of the coating should not interfere with the performance of the vehicle. It should also not attract more contamination than the baseline tire, tread material. The coating must tolerate environmental durability issues such as vehicle heat, UV and weather. Coating materials should not contain heavy metals or other known hazardous materials (MIL-DTL-53072D). The color coating method should not damage or reduce the lifetime of the tires, treads, tracks, underbody coatings or vehicle paint. The color match coating method should require the same level of cleaning effort as with the original tire, track tread. Minimal masking off of tires from the rest of the vehicle during the coating process is preferred. Application with the tires and tracks on the vehicle is desirable. PHASE I: Demonstrate a durable coating which will allow color matching of tires and track vehicle treads. This coating will be in mil spec colors with gloss levels to match current Army MIL-DTL-53072 requirements. For phase I, the durable tire coating will match color and gloss of Tan 686A. Materials developed during Phase I shall be evaluated on appropriate substrates to demonstrate their wear and adhesion performance to simulate application on a vehicle tire/ track tread. This data along with samples of the material applied to an appropriate substrate will be provided for comparison to Tan 686A. A cure schedule will also be provided that describes the time for each step required to apply the coating. This will include the time required to reach sufficient cure to handle a tire as well as the time needed to reach a full cure sufficient to drive a vehicle without damaging the coating. PHASE II: Demonstrate the ability to produce the coating system in primary camouflage colors brown 383, green 383, green 808, IRR foliage green 504, tan 686A, and woodland desert sage 34201. Phase II will include best efforts to match mil spec colors in the visible (400-700 nanometers) and near infrared (700-900 nanometers). Phase II will include the demonstration of a prototype application station. The station will be portable and designed to be placed inside of a military vehicle style paint spray booth or portable painting structure if necessary. It should not require any additional safety or waste management requirements beyond those for applying CARC paint MIL-DTL-53072D. A field repair kit will be developed that uses hand held equipment that can be shipped by air to combat locations. Kits will be available in all primary camouflage colors with similar performance to the original coating. Each kit will be sufficient to completely color treat a surface area of 4 feet x 4 feet. Successful deliverable will be judged upon evaluation of the prototype application station"s ability to apply the coating to tires and track treads to combat vehicles. The coatings will be evaluated by the government for color accuracy, and coating permanence after being driven on the vehicles for a period of 6 months under various conditions. PHASE III: Phase III will provide the military a commercialized version of the color coating system. The technology will be incorporated into the CARC coating acquisition. Phase III coatings would seek to improve overall durability and lifetime of the tire by protecting it from environmental damage (dry-rot, ultra violet light damage). The coating would be applied to all combat vehicle tires and track treads when they receive their initial camouflage coating in paint spray booths. Commercial touch up kits will also be manufactured to allow in field touch-up and in field modifications typically needed under special force missions. This technology would be applicable to produce a durable commercial coating to improve the lifetime of off road sport utility, emergency response, recreational and construction vehicle tires and track treads which are susceptible to UV and ground level ozone (dry-rot). For general public safety this technology can provide cars and trucks with a means allow coloring of black-wall tires to improve visibility of vehicle against asphalt roadways. . The coating technology could also be applied to elastomeric inflated structures to provide a long lasting color and environmental protection. Such structures are used by both Department of Defense and the civilian market. Additionally, this technology could also be used to color rubberized inflatable boats for military and commercial purposes.
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