The Department of Defense (DOD) has been actively pursuing laser and automated paint removal technologies as alternative processes to traditional paint/coating removal methods. These new technologies have demonstrated the potential to reduce costs, reduce waste, improve safety, and increase weapon system readiness. The DoD’s continued investigation and validation of laser coating removal systems has resulted in the technology moving from limited, niche applications to engineered systems using commercial, off-the-shelf components that are reliable, easy to maintain, and being used for mainstream applications. This forum will include a briefing from the US Air Force on the advancements their laser coating removal program and full aircraft robotic painting. NAVAIR will provide an update on their laser de-painting operation at Fleet Readiness Center-East, and the Marine Corps will discuss their robotic paint stripping process.
1300-1309: Welcome and Overview – Greg Kilchenstein (OSD-MPP)
1309-1310: Administrative Notes – Debbie Lilu (NCMS)
1310-1400: USAF Laser Coating Qualification Process – Tom Naguy (AFMC)
1400-1420: NAVAIR Laser De-Painting process – Ben Thompson (FRC-East)
1420-1440: NAVSEA Handheld paint stripping process – Chuck Radvansky (NAVSEA)
1440-1455: USMC Paint and Coating Operations – Greg Russell & Bill Baker (USMC MCLC Albany)
1455-1500: Wrap-up and JTEG Principals Comments
JTEG Forum Minutes
Event: On 29 March, 2016, the Joint Technology Exchange Group (JTEG), in coordination with the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS), hosted a virtual forum on “Laser De-Paint Update / Automated Painting & De-Painting”.
Purpose: The purpose of the forum was to provide information (including updates) and exchange ideas on Laser De-Paint Update / Automated Painting & De-Painting operations in the DoD.
Welcome: Greg Kilchenstein (JTEG Co-Chair), welcomed everyone to the forum, thanked the presenters and all the listeners for their attendance, and briefly described the purposes of the JTEG and the JTEG technology forums.
Administrative: This was an open forum. The presentations, along with questions and answers, were conducted through Adobe Connect (Primary) for the first time, and Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) as a back-up. A separate audio line was used. Approximately 160 participants from across DoD and industry joined in the forum.
USAF Laser Coating Qualification Process – Tom Naguy (AFMC) led a discussion on robotic fiber laser coating removal. The overview listed the system capabilities to include a spectral surface sensor for color recognition, real time power modulation, selective stripping of coating layer(s), strips 100% of topcoat on metallic surfaces, primer removal optional, strips 95% of topcoats on composites, leaves all primer, and 100% process control tracking. Tom showed a short video of the F-16 Robotic Laser Coating Removal System in operation at Hill AFB. He also discussed the USAF progress against Airworthiness Bulletin (AWB)-1015 requirements and AFLCMC’s path forward to include engaging with F-16 and C-130 sustainment program offices to create Modified Airworthiness Certification Criteria (MACC).
NAVAIR Laser De-Painting process – Ben Thompson (FRC-East) provided a history and update on FRC-E’s laser rotor blade paint removal program, beginning with the 2003 CTMA project to determine if laser de-painting technology is viable and cost-effective. He then discussed ARBSS, to include challenges and lessons learned, and finally gaining approval for H-53E and H-60 rotor blades. He then detailed the FY14 funded updates and the FY16 capability expansion with optioned V-22 and H-1 capability.
NAVSEA Handheld Paint Stripping Process – Chuck Radvansky (NAVSEA) provided an overview of the laser ablation coating removal process for naval use. The goals of the project are: 1) to approve LASER ablation as an authorized paint removal method for use on all classes of Navy ships; 2) to identify and codify the appropriate technical parameters for laser selection and processes for use; and 3) to identify and codify the appropriate safety precautions necessary to support shipboard production use. Initial testing was done as three independent projects. Technical review of the outcomes by NAVSEA allowed for partial approval for use and identified the need for additional testing. NAVSEA 05 authorized the use of lasers for coatings removal on Naval Surface Craft in selected locations via letter SEA05S / 2015 –238 dated 15 July, 2015. Our testing determined that laser ablation does produces time and cost savings, but the key benefits to laser ablation is that it can be used in places that other systems can’t, it eliminates or reduces solvent cleaning time, and it reduces hazardous and contained waste and the associated cost.
USMC Paint and Coating Operations – Greg Russell & Bill Baker (USMC MCLC Albany) provided a detailed description of past and current painting and de-painting efforts to include various laser stripping projects. In March 2016, REPTECH Program was initiated. The goal of the project is to conduct an on-site evaluation of all paint and coating (including blasting) equipment and processes to identify potential areas of modernization.
Closing Comments: Greg Kilchenstein thanked the presenters for their contributions and the audience for their participation. He noted that we had 129 listeners on Adobe Connect and 40 more on DCS, making this one of the largest JTEG forum groups to date. It was apparent from all the briefings that future applications are on the horizon. There was a great deal of interest in the proposed use of lasers for corrosion mitigation. Greg mentioned that the OSD Corrosion Prevention Office has sent out a Corrosion Call for Papers. The website is www.corrdefense.org. You can find the FY17 call for papers on the project plan tab. Debbie Lilu has sent out an email with the schedule.
Presentation Slides and Questions & Answers: These meeting minutes, the Q&A, and those briefing slides approved for public release, will be posted on the JTEG website at http://jteg.ncms.org/ .
Next JTEG Meeting: The next JTEG virtual forum is 26 April 2016, 1:00 – 3:00 pm EST. The topic is “Environmental Impacts & Worker Safety”.
POC this action is Ray Langlais, firstname.lastname@example.org , (571) 633-8019
USAF Laser Qualification Process
Tom Naguy (AFMC)
Q1. Tom, have you quantified the hazmat reduction between stripping an F-16 with the laser system vs traditional methods?
A1. Yes, we actually have quite a bit of data. The reduction is from several thousand lbs down to ½ cup.
Q2. Does the system feedback loop use surface temperature?
A2. No. However, the next iteration is looking at it.
Q3. When do you expect that the F-16 laser coating removal system will be used in MRO operations at Hill AFB?
A3. The next couple of months. We are working through a contract.
Q4. Can you give us some overarching status on where USAF is with LO laser Depaint?
A4. We had a program funded through OSD. We have had struggles – it has not been as satisfactory as we would have liked. New technology is currently being tested. I think we can do it. We need to build the programs to do it.
Q5. How does the F-16 system affect the overall F-16 MRO work days? What is the reduction?
A5. 2 weeks to 5 days for the F-16 system. For the air intake, the automation program reduces it from 4 days to less than a day.
Q6. Is the USAF expanding the use of hand-held lasers to other aircraft applications?
A6. Yes, we are in the process of starting the initial process with a change eval team.
Q7. What part of the airworthiness plan had to be modified and is not yet approved?
A7. What we are waiting for is the completed analysis of all the data. Once received, we can finalize the process specific to Hill AFB.
Q8. Is the USAF ARLCRS system still in use at OO/ALC? Have you expanded its application since it was last briefed to JTEG in 2013?
A8. No, it’s not.
Q9. Have the laser removal systems been evaluated for the removal of other coating systems besides the PRF-23377 T1 Class C primer and PRF-85285 T1 Class H topcoat system?
A9. We have done the 85285 primer. Basically all the epoxy primers and polyurethane topcoats. It does well with standard topcoats.
Q10. Does the laser affect the surface of the graphite epoxy substrate after removing primer coat?
A10. We do not remove the primer off the surface.
Q11. Where can we find the BCA for this?
A11. It is a controlled document. Government employees can contact Tom Naguy. His contact information is on the JTEG website.
Q12. NAVSEA would like to get copies of your test data for aluminums. Are they releasable electronically?
A12. Yes, it is releasable.
Q13. Thoughts on applicability to processes with hundreds of geometries i.e. landing gear struts and wheels.
A13. We have a 2D scanner. We don’t have an XYZ capability.
Q14. Which organizations at Robins (Corrosion Office, SPOs, MXG) is integrally involved with the Laser Stripping CET sponsored at HQ?
A14.The Corrosion Office is engaged. The C130 Office is looking at the hand-held technology. It comes down to program requirements.
Q15. You reported a 6kW fiber laser. What new laser been selected for the new systems for Robins or other installations?
A15. I can’t tell you. We are currently submitting the proposals.
Ben Thompson (FRC-E)
Q1. Is FRC-E using ARBSS for V-22 and H-60 rotor blades?
A1. Not yet. We are still waiting for approval. We are still having fixturing and software developed and approved. Should have the capability soon.
Q2. What are the next steps for ARBSS at FRC-E? Other applications? Technology upgrades?
A2. We need to make sure we get current CRP project operational and in-use, then into production on the CH-53 blade. Then we will look at adding the H-60 blade, which has already been approved. We are awaiting approval for the V22 and H1.
Q3. Are there opportunities for other companies to get involved?
A3. Opportunities are available through normal procedures.
Chuck Radvansky (NAVSEA)
Q1. Where could we find this test data and matrix?
A1. I have it. Contact me. However, the information is not publicly releasable.
Q2. Could you provide a good explanation of the steps in the process?
A2. I didn’t specifically discuss, but after the removal of the paint, there is additional prep work that is required prior to re-coating.
Q3. Sorry if I missed it, but what size (power/wattage) handheld laser is being tested by NRL?
A3. I would have to look it up the specifics, but it was a 1000W laser.
Q4. Is laser being used for corrosion removal on steel?
A4. Not yet. But I think that would be a natural progression of the technology.
Bill Baker (USMC)
Q1. I know the USMC has experimented with laser paint removal, but why aren’t they using it?
A1. Because the complex geometry of our equipment, strip rate, & surface profile make robotic and laser stripping extremely difficult.
Comment: Let’s make sure we include the www.corrdefense.org for the FY17 OSD Corrosion Call for papers. The tab on the homepage is project plan
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