Tech

April 19, 2012

Robotics offer greener aircraft paint stripping

by Karla Saia
Air Force News
Air Force photograph by Lt. Col. David Pugh
Terry Yonkers and Timothy Bridges get a close up look at a new cutting-edge technology Johnstown, Pa. April 4, 2012 that's expected to reduce pollution and the exposure of Airmen to hazardous compounds. Currently, the technology is being used at Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah, to remove coatings from F-16 radomes. Yokers is the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics, and Bridges is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for the Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.

The assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics got a close up look at a new, cutting-edge technology in Johnstown, Penn., April 4 that’s expected to reduce pollution and the exposure of Airmen to hazardous compounds.

Terry Yonkers’ visit to the headquarters of Concurrent Technologies Corporation, a partner in the Air Force development of laser aircraft paint stripping components, was an advanced observance of Earth Day.

Aircraft painting and depainting operations are often an overlooked source of pollution as well as a cause of Airmen being exposed to hazardous compounds. However, the state-of-the-art laser technology and robotics may offer a solution for a host of environmental, safety and occupational health, and budgetary challenges.

The Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is actively pursuing automated laser coating removal. The commercially available system can improve depot depaint operations both in terms of minimizing environmental toxins and providing significant cost savings.

“This is an outstanding example of how we all can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our Air Force,” Yonkers said. “This technology will not only eliminate a hazardous waste stream; it will also reduce costs, reduce process flow time, reduce worker exposure to potential hazards, and (it) can improve the consistency and quality of the operation.”

The advanced robotic laser coating removal system could reduce Airmen exposure to toxic chemicals by as much as 75 percent, according to Tom Naguy, the senior program manager for environment and energy in AFRL’s materials and manufacturing directorate, which is spearheading the project.

“We could also realize initial savings up to $8 million per year,” Naguy added.

For years, aircraft and parts depainting has been a labor-intensive task, involving by-hand application of toxic paint-strippers to a variety of aircraft components, he said. The robotic system, by contrast, uses powerful, targeted lasers to remove paint from an airplane’s substrate.

“The beauty of this approach is that it is both scalable and adaptable,” Naguy said. “We can use the same set of tools for depainting an F-16 as we use on a C-130. And there is no advance programming required for these robots. Sensors placed slightly ahead of the coating-removal end of the laser scan the surface of the component to develop a three-dimensional map of the part surface in real time and adjust the robotic motions accordingly.”

The system realizes vast reductions in power consumption, greenhouse gas emission equipment, maintenance costs and waste products associated with traditional chemical removal processes.

“A greener work environment is an inherently more efficient environment,” Yonkers said. “I commend the outstanding work AFRL has done in transitioning new technologies that reduce pollution and waste generated in the sustainment of our weapons systems.”

Currently, the technology is being used at Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah, to remove coatings from F-16 Fighting Falcon radomes. The center is actively pursuing approvals to expand use of the current system for C-130 Hercules radomes, as well as F-16 and C-130 flight controls.

“Once all aspects of the demonstration have been evaluated and reported, the hope is we can become fully operational at depots enterprise-wide,” Naguy said.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
darpa-notice

DARPA Tactical Technology Office invites innovative risk-takers to attend 2014 Office-Wide Proposers Day

DARPAs Tactical Technology Office invests in innovative platforms, weapons, integrated systems and critical systems components that often incorporate emerging advanced technologies, all designed to preserve and extend decisive ...
 
 

AFRL provides environmentally-preferred alternatives for removing radome coatings

Radomes, tail cones, and other fiberglass or composite components on E-3, KC-135, and B-52 aircraft are coated with polyurethane rain erosion resistant coatings to protect them from the effects of rain erosion in flight. Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC) production workers must remove the coatings during depot overhaul to allow for inspection and repair....
 
 
darpa-uav-network

Remote troops closer to having high-speed wireless networks mounted on UAVs

Missions in remote, forward operating locations often suffer from a lack of connectivity to tactical operation centers and access to valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data. The assets needed for long-range...
 

 
Photograph courtesy of Research Center for Marine Geosciences/DLR

NASA signs agreement with German, Canadian partners to test alternative fuels

NASA photograph A heavily instrumented NASA HU-25 Falcon measures chemical components from the larger DC-8′s exhaust generated by a 50/50 mix of conventional jet fuel and a plant-derived biofuel, demonstrating the type of...
 
 
darpa-phoenix2

Phoenix makes strides in orbital robotics, satellite architecture research

The process of designing, developing, building and deploying satellites is long and expensive. Satellites today cannot follow the terrestrial paradigm of “assemble, repair, upgrade, reuse,” and must be designed to operate w...
 
 

AFRL researchers uncover structural, function relationships in bioinspired nanomaterials

In his 1954 work, The Nature of Science, Edwin Powell Hubble said, “Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” During his tenure with the Air Force Research Laboratory, National Research Council associate Dr. Nick Bedford, embarked on such an adventure that applied both biological and physical...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>