The long-term objective of this project is to eliminate use of methylene chloride (MeCl) and n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) currently used to de-paint Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft components during maintenance processes. In this project, the United States Air Force (USAF) will team with IBC Materials and Technologies and University of Dayton Research Institute to demonstrate and validate an Ultrasonic Activated De-Paint (UADP) pilot line at the Advanced Technology and Training Center (ATTC) near Robins Air Force Base (AFB). This effort will be combined with previously funded projects to design/manufacture and install equipment at the ATTC and will include tasks to develop/provide training, design/fabricate tooling and fixtures, perform testing and materials characterization, and demonstrate and validate the UADP pilot line on various USAF and DoD aircraft components. Future year transition to Robins AFB will be pursued if demonstration and validation on aircraft components is successful.
UADP technology eliminates the use of hazardous solvents and media blasting to de-bond coating systems. Parts are placed in a benign parts washer for preliminary cleaning and surface preparation, then an ultrasonic tank for de-painting. This tank utilizes a non-toxic, water-based electrolyte and application of high-frequency, high-intensity soundwaves to promote separation of coatings from the part substrate. Computerized control of this process maintains the system within the appropriate parameters designed for the stack-up of the part being de-painted. Following the ultrasonic tank the part is rinsed of electrolyte that is recycled, then power washed with tap water to remove any remaining separated, but clinging, coating residue. The removed paint in the tank is in large pieces, they can be removed by a technician, and the electrolyte reused on another part.