Non-Contact, Thickness Measurement for Wet Coatings

AMMP Probe | Thickness Sensor

Guess what happens when you shoot a coating thickness measurement signal at a performance coating designed to confuse signals? You guessed it, you get very confused thickness measurement data.

Aerobotix (ABX) worked with Compass Technology Group (CTG) to apply their Advanced Microwave Mapping Probes (AMMP) technology to wet coating thickness measurement.

Background

Aerobotix was introduced to CTG by the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL). The team was tasked to develop a turn-key robotic system to measure fighter jet canopies using FANUC robots and AMMP. During the project, ABX recognized the power of the technology, and funded Compass to extend the technology to measuring paint thickness on military performance coatings renowned for being difficult to measure. CTG went to the lab and came back with a probe not only capable of providing very accurate thickness measurements, but also able to provide mission critical material reflectivity information.

Opportunity

Previous measurement methods required paint to fully cure, be accurately marked, peeled off, manually measured with calipers, have that data manually entered into spreadsheets, and then the needed adjustments to robot programs could be made. This old process consumed expensive coatings, valuable schedule, and distracted critical human resources.

Solution

The AMMP technology on an Aerobotix robot creates the ability to automatically make the measurement without contact, and thus eliminating the cycle time required for the coating to cure or any paint to be peeled. It combines a rugged specialty antenna with a compact 1-port network analyzer to enable microwave non-destructive evaluation (NDE) from 2 to 18 GHz.

Results

This application of the AMMP measurement system provides a faster, more accurate measurement of coating thicknesses. The data is collected automatically and associated to specific locations on the part, feeding the Digital Thread that tracks the health and performance of each part. Additionally, AMMP measures the microwave performance of the painted part, which previous methods were unable to offer. Now, even before the part leaves the paint booth, the user can assess the part’s ability to pass range testing (radar or antenna). AMMP is being used to measure F-15, C-5, C-130, C-17, Talon II, F-35 canopies, and Spinner radomes to name a few.

AMMP Probe | Thickness Sensor

 

Conclusion

Aerobotix proactively searches for creative solutions to improve our military and aerospace customers’ production processes. The AMMP system provides a more robust, accurate, efficient, and cost-effective measurement solution which can be used on any application where performance coatings make measurements difficult. Contact Aerobotix for assistance measuring coatings on your UAV, fighter jet, bomber, missile, rocket, and other unique applications.

AMMP Probe | Thickness Sensor