Collaborative Research: Planning Grant: I/UCRC in Painting/Coating Application and Surface Inspection Systems

  • Saito, Kozo (PI)
  • Salazar, Abraham (CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Despite exciting recent discoveries in painting/coating materials, formulations, finishes and interfacial behavior, paint and coating application curing and inspection systems have lagged behind. Even in automotive painting, recognized as the most technically sophisticated industrial painting process, paint application methods and equipment have remained essentially unchanged for the last 30 years. This gap between the lab and the production floor needs what medical research calls “clinical translation,” getting new knowledge into the hands of practitioners -- in this case, manufacturers -- by eliminating technical obstacles that block the use of results of advanced research in industry. Examples of obstacles might be the failure of a new technology to work robustly under actual conditions, perhaps caused by the failure to work closely enough with end-users during the research process itself or difficulty in bringing a new process up to scale for manufacturing in terms of speed, quality, reliability and so on. In part, this gap between discovery and application may be caused because “application” is not always considered worthy of research funding, despite the fact that in many cases fundamental advances in a field are required to clear obstacles to application of a promising discovery. On the other hand, industry might shy away from anything that appears too fundamental and open-ended, lacking a clear near-term payoff. The proposed Collaborative Center for Painting/Coating Application and Inspection Systems would tackle this gap between research lab and production line, fundamental and applied research, in two ways: by improving how and when industry is involved in the research and by providing a tightlyfocused research target -- paint application, surface finish monitoring and quality control, including application methods and equipment. The collaborative research team, based at the University of Kentucky and Clemson University, has a proven track record of collaborative research with industry in the paint application, monitoring and quality control area for more than fifteen years. In close consultation with industry members, the center will work out relevant pre-competitive research projects in fundamental problem areas such as: • Pollution reduction in industrial spray painting operations, which includes methods and equipment to efficiently capture paint overspray and VOCs, green and sustainable methods of disposing of the captured paint sludge, and reducing CO2 and other green house emissions. • Corrosion protection, which includes detecting corrosion underneath coatings (coating failure) and monitoring and inspecting integrity and performance of the paint coating. • Paint finish defect inspection and characterization • “Green” and energy- efficient methods of curing paint • Overall reduction of energy consumption in the painting process, which includes clean room, paint booth, curing oven, etc. • Control or elimination of paint overspray, which includes methods and equipment to increase paint transfer efficiency while maintaining a high quality of finish. Intellectual Merit: Fundamental pre-competitive research promising advances in a relatively neglected area with potential transformative impact across several economically significant industry sectors, including automotive manufacturing. Broader Impact: Effective targeted dissemination and technology transfer through close industry involvement in research and through graduate student education with deep involvement in real-world industry research, including negotiation, reporting and other areas “beyond the laboratory.” Education will stress diversity, global-international perspectives and multidisciplinarity of the research teams.
Effective start/end date2/1/113/31/13


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