Status of High Temperature Resistant Thermal Spray Nonskid Coatings in the Navy
Authors: John Wegand, Paul Slebodnick, Cameron Miller, and Patrick Cassidy
The U.S. Navy has determined that thermal spray coatings can be used as an alternative to traditional epoxy based nonskid coatings under high temperature applications to extend service life. Traditional nonskid coatings break down under the stresses of vertical landing aircraft operations due to the high heat generated from the exhaust gases. This breakdown of the coating system leads to loss of adhesion, deck corrosion and reduced slip resistance. The current practice for mitigating these issues is extensive re-work and maintenance of the legacy coating system.
Using a twin-wire arc spray system, the U.S. Naval Research Lab (NRL) successfully applied an aluminum based ceramic-metallic (cermet) thermal spray material during maintenance availabilities in April 2011 and May 2013 on the flight deck of the USS Wasp (LHD 1). The two demonstration areas on the USS Wasp have undergone two separate sea trials of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35B variant, with a total of over 100 landings with no indications of break down.
While the benefits of the thermal spray nonskid system have already been realized on the USS Wasp, NRL has several programs currently underway to optimize the technology. A robotic surface preparation and thermal spray application unit is being designed to eliminate human error, improve productivity and reduce costs. Alternative thermal spray wire materials are being tested for improved performance and greater ease of use with lower raw material cost. Proper application procedures, repair procedures and quality assurance requirements are being generated as part of a process instruction. By using these rigorous standards and lessons learned from laboratory testing and field demonstrations, NRL intends to provide the Navy with a ten year service life high temperature resistant nonskid coating.