Seegmiller, N., Bailiff, J., and Franks, R., "Precision Robotic Coating Application and Thickness Control Optimization for F-35 Final Finishes," SAE Int. J. Aerosp. 2(1):284-290, 2010, doi:10.4271/2009-01-3280.
In order to meet the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's strict radar cross-section and weight requirements, stealth coatings must be applied to extremely precise thickness tolerances. To meet these unprecedented tolerances, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company has implemented a unique Robotic Aircraft Finishing System (RAFS). This paper details the capabilities of RAFS hardware for precision coating application as compared to legacy systems. The iterative process of optimizing spray parameters and robot programs for coating thickness control on challenging F-35 geometry is also presented. Finally, results from the first coating of a production aircraft at RAFS are compared with previous hand-spray results. In keeping with Security and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, restricted information on coating materials and tolerances is not presented.