Certification, Chemicals, Depainting, Guidance Document, Laser, Metallic and Composite Structures, Paint Removal, Plasma, Test Protocol
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. Non-chemical based methods, such as Dry Stripping Media (ranging from sponge, bicarbonate of soda, to plastic and bio-based media) are becoming more popular; however, so far they have seen limited application. Some mature technologies, such as Flashjet®, have been proven effective, but these technologies have not been adopted. 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.
New paint removal technologies need extensive certification testing before they can be used on weapon systems. At present no standard is available that describes which requirements need to be fulfilled to safely use a paint removal technology. Therefore each nation has to decide on the test protocol and exchange of paint removal technologies is hampered by the different requirements in the different nations. Furthermore, the AVT-302 workshop on modern paint removal technologies for military vehicles showed that even within one nation, differences occur in deciding which process is preferred for each of the applications and in the process details such as the type of media used in media blasting.