Automated Sanding of Aircraft Coatings

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8650-07-M-5700
Agency Tracking Number: F071-112-2698
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2007
Solicitation Topic Code: AF071-112
Solicitation Number: 2007.1
Small Business Information
351-F Electronics Blvd, Huntsville, AL, 35824
DUNS: 183652341
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Kirk McLauchin
 President/Director of Engineering
 (256) 772-9035
Business Contact
 Kirk McLauchlin
Title: President/Director of Engineering
Phone: (256) 772-9035
Research Institution
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.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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