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PRAM Program: Robotic Paint Booth.
WARNER ROBINS AIR LOGISTICS CENTER ROBINS AFB GA
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F-15 aircraft scheduled for Programmed Depot Maintenance PDM normally have 10-15 coats of paint. The aircraft must be completely stripped, inspected for corrosion, and then repainted. Air Force PDM is designed to identify and repair aircraft structural or mechanical problems before they become critical. The FY89 PDM package for F-15s required a minimum of 100 aircraft per year and a potential workload of 850 aircraft over the next five years maximum 170 per year to be accomplished at Warner Robins. This task was only supportable with additional manhours, equipment, and facilities, or a more efficient, less manpower-intensive method for PDM. Warner Robins firmly believed that an automated preparation and paint system could be developed which would meet all the Air Force quality and safety requirements and eliminate the F-15 support problem. In designing the system, it was discovered that the size of existing robots was not sufficient to reach all parts of an F-15 aircraft with the robot stationary. The only solution was to move the robot itself in three dimensional space. This solution added complexity because each additional degree of freedom required an additional input and output to be controlled. To spray paint from above, below, and around the aircraft, a platform-on-a-curved-track configuration was selected. To wash, etch, and alodine, a gantry system concept was chosen for fast and complete coverage. This project was initiated in 1988, cost 4.9M, and was funded with FY89 and FY90 dollars. The system was placed in use for production painting of PDM aircraft at Robins AFB in January 1993. The concept of robotic aircraft surface preparation and painting was demonstrated to be feasible. The prototype system installed at Robins continues to be optimized for production, while being fully production capable.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE