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News > New paint removal process unique to Robins
A new process known as plastic media blasting has been validated at Robins. The process is unique to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ed Aspera)
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New paint removal process unique to Robins

Posted 7/18/2013   Updated 7/19/2013 Email story   Print story


by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/18/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A new process for stripping paint from C-17s has been validated at Robins.

Known as plastic media blasting, it's environmentally-friendly, and allows for a more efficient way of removing paint from aircraft during programmed depot maintenance.

"This is unique to Robins, the fact we have the capability to do plastic media blasting to strip an aircraft's composite parts," said James Cranford, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Support Squadron's Corrosion Flight chief. "While there are a lot of places that have PMB capability on metallic surfaces, the fact we have this here to strip composites takes it to a new level."

Composites are parts on a plane -- such as panels -- which are created using a material lighter than metallic surfaces. The new PMB uses tiny, grit-like beads resembling sand to blast paint from an aircraft's surface.

It's a much harder media made to be used at lower pressure, enabling it to be recycled for continuous use up to five times on a plane.

Another advantage to the process is that no hazardous material is generated. Spent media is eventually picked up and recycled, including stripped paint.

Prior to PMB, chemicals in large 300-gallon totes were used to do a chemical strip; all the composite pieces were mechanically stripped using hand sanders. With lessons learned from the C-17 validation, Cranford said he expects the new process to eventually align with the same number of flow days or less.

Prior to PMB, flow days averaged 11, which included chemically stripping metallic surfaces and mechanically stripping composites by sanding. Including training, the validation process was completed during a two-week period which ended July 3.

The goal is to use PMB on all C-17s that come through Robins for PDM and also to look at other weapons systems in the future from other facilities.

8/1/2013 12:16:03 PM ET
Media Blasting has been around since 1870. The types of media used in the article and its use on compoite surface has been used by industy and Hill AFB for since the late 80's. It's about time WR-ALC came on board.
Brian Adams, Tinker AFB
7/23/2013 4:27:04 PM ET
Is my mind playing tricks on me or are you I am sure I have read that Hill AFB has been using this method of stripping paint from the aircraft it maintains for the past several years.
Kevan Smith, Salt Lake City UT
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