Latest News on Select CTMA Army Projects

NCMS has several Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) projects with the U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center. Important initiatives are taking place around corrosion, adhesive joining, rubber degradation, and other critical issues that affect functionality, cost, and readiness. Here is a sampling of a few of those projects.

Integrated Corrosion Systems

Corrosion is a huge problem for all the Services but with their fleet of ground vehicles, the U.S. Army faces particular challenges. It’s an issue they grapple with on a daily basis costing billions of dollars in new and replacement parts. The purpose of the Powder Coating and Flame Spraying project is to develop new combinations of pretreatment, primer and Chemical-Agent Resistant Coating (CARC) topcoat with significant improvements in corrosion, chip, and abrasion resistance, using existing or recently developed coating technology. Developments so far are:

  • Joint testing protocol has been developed using a test matrix to compare various coating systems.
  • Tests panels have been prepared and distributed between the collaborating industry participants.
  • Analyses are being carried out to evaluate and rank the various coating systems.
  • One or more top-rated integrated systems will be considered for demonstration at Anniston Army Depot.

Long-Term Tire Storage

Because the Army maintains such a large fleet of ground vehicles, they also must store a large inventory of expensive, specially-designed tires. Long-term storage has proven to degrade the rubber causing tire failures and unnecessary tire disposal. The current project underway will identify and develop a coating that will mitigate the environmental causes of tire rubber degradation during storage.

Industry partner Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) has developed a waterborne, protective coating for spray application to the interior and another protective coating for exterior sidewall tire surfaces. The interior 10-millimeter protective coating has demonstrated a 50% or more reduction in degradation, while the exterior has exhibited significant ultra-violet (UV) protection in testing.

Results from this test could be beneficial for the commercial trucking and bus companies who also depend on tires that may have been stored for long periods of time. This could potentially be extended even further to automotive companies who store vehicles on lots prior to sales, reducing the number of tires that rot over extended storage times.

Lightweighting Design Study  

Army tactical vehicles are heavy and expensive to maneuver. The Army is testing, through the CTMA Program, ways to utilize lightweight materials to reduce costs yet not sacrifice functionality or safety. This project is using the blow-off panels from the Abrams tank as the pilot for the prototype:

  • Prototype CAD designs for vehicle integration interface is underway.
  • Development of performance specifications from baseline determination of ballistic and shock impacts is underway for lightweighting the Abrams hatch, lightweight ramp, and blow-off panel.
  • Design and analysis of a mechanical joint, comprised of a composite-based material along with metallic-based material that is durable enough to withstand a high strain rate event, is being modeled. The joint and adhesive strength testing is being performed along with the development of a specification.

Powder Coating and Thermal Spraying

The Army is seeking to increase the use of environmentally-friendly powder coating use in the depot setting by developing guidance for powder coating application in a wide variety of conditions which won’t need a curing oven. This project involves thermal spray application development, powder coating application robustness improvement, and provides training and communication pf results.

To date, the identification of thermal spray unit has been deemed feasible for thermal powder coating application. The initial benchmarking and Design of Experiment task using Fluoropolymer and CARC included:

  • Evaluation of bake time and temperature.
  • Spray gun KV, air flow and atomization settings.
  • PPG powder primer used on al panels in study.
  • Topcoat sprayed.

Corrosion Detection Under Coating

As mentioned, corrosion is a huge problem for the Army’s ground vehicle fleet. Early detection would be able to predict the rate of corrosion and residual service life on ground vehicles. It would also help to optimize maintenance scheduling, reduce maintenance costs, and prolong the life of the asset.

This project will help to identify, evaluate, develop, and implement multiple Non-Destructive Examination (NDE) techniques that can aid in the detection/characterization of corrosion under coatings and benchmark their performance with respect to detection limits and resolution. Ultimately the Army hopes to develop a field-deployable NDE tool to detect and monitor corrosion under coatings. The objectives are to:

  • Evaluate the existing NDE techniques and computational tools for corrosion detection and assessment with respect to their effectiveness, limitations, strengths and applicability with an aim to identify the optimal methodology.
  • Design of experiments to consider the types of substrates and coatings, resulting components (joints for galvanic corrosion) and level/degree of corrosion growth.
  • Narrow down constraints such as accessibility, sample/component geometry, sensor sizes, resolution expected, measuring environment, etc.
  • Develop computational models for conducting parametric studies that will aid in the sensor development and signal interpretation.
  • Develop signal processing algorithms for diagnosis and prognosis.

These are just a few of the many Army projects that are being conducted through the CTMA Program. To learn more please contact Lisa Stobierski at lisas@ncms.org