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Robotics and Laser/Plasma – paint interaction in paint removal

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Applied Vehicle Technology

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Automation, Depainting, Laser, Metallic and Composite Structure, Paint Removal, Plasma, Robotics


Paint protection schemes are used extensively on military vehicles (aircraft, ground combat vehicles and ships) to impede corrosion / environmental degradation during their operational life. These military assets, particularly ageing equipment, remain in service several decades beyond their original design lifetime, and to be kept in top working condition, must undergo several paint removal / restoration cycles. Current military vehicles paint removal processes tend to be tedious and time consuming, may generate vast volumes of toxic waste and may pose worker health and safety issues. As an example, chemical-based paint removal processes require the use of worker protection equipment and are being subject to evolving stricter environmental regulations / legislation on their use, storage and disposal. Emerging technologies, such as Laser and Plasma, appear to offer potential as environmentally friendly alternatives; however, though advanced, they require further development. As well, automation of paint removal methods and processes could lead to higher productivity / efficiency, for both metallic and composite structures, which would translate to improved military asset availability. The AVT-302 workshop on modern paint removal technologies for military vehicles showed a large interest amongst the participants to further discuss robotics for paint removal and the interaction between the laser or plasma and the paint.


The main objective is to create a forum to discuss the interaction of lasers and plasma with paint and skin materials of weapon systems, as well as the issues with consideration of automation and robotics in paint removal. By discussing the interaction of laser/plasma with paint, the understanding of the physics will be improved. This will reduce the risks of the paint removal processes damaging the substrate materials. The advantages and disadvantages of laser and plasma paint removal will lead to a well-informed decision on the selection of paint removal process for military applications. Robotic automation is an attractive option for the laser/plasma processes, since it reduces operator’s exposure to potentially hazardous byproducts. The requirements and implementation issues for automation of the paint removal processes will be discussed. A workshop with proceedings will be organized which includes the technical evaluator report and possible directions for future activities.


The topic that are targeted for the workshop are: • Interaction of laser with paint, including different laser light sources and wavelength, different paint colours, etc. • Interaction of atmospheric plasma with paint • Interaction of laser with substrate materials (aluminum, steel, composite) • Interaction of thermal heat with anodic layer, sealing, composite substrate, and risks associated with potential byproducts of this interaction • Interaction of atmospheric plasma with substrate materials (aluminum, steel, composites) • Automation of laser and plasma paint stripping (closed loop, sensor technology to be used) • Use of robots for laser or plasma paint stripping

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