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Home : Media : News
NEWS | April 11, 2023

Carderock Shines at 2023 Sea-Air-Space Exposition

By Dana Klosner, NSWC Carderock Division Public Affairs

The annual Sea-Air-Space Conference and Exposition was held from April 3-5, 2023, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. It is the Navy League’s Global Maritime Exposition attracting maritime leaders and military stakeholders from around the world. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division engineers were amongst the attendees, demonstrating their virtual reality painter training system.

The three days were packed with speakers, educational sessions and policy discussions. The exhibit halls were bursting with 400 exhibitors displaying their newest innovations designed to improve and streamline Navy ships, submarines and other equipment.

Top Navy officials were among the many notable guest speakers, including: the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy, Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations; Adm. Lisa Franchetti, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, Chief of Naval Research; Vice Adm. William Galinis, Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA); and Rear Adm. Byrne, Commander, NAVSEA Warfare Centers.

Additionally, the Office of Naval Research hosted a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) exposition prior to the event on April 2. Carderock’s STEM Director Charlotte George and engineer Ashlee Floyd were present, showcasing their STEM-in-a-Box activities such as buoyancy and drag to interested school-aged children.

In the exhibit hall, key officials from (NAVSEA) provided program updates in their exhibit booth. Carderock engineers were on-hand to demonstrate the virtual reality painter trainer known as the virtual painter, and members of the Carderock’s small business department were also present to help small businesses learn the necessary requirements to win contracts with Carderock.

Carderock employees displaying the virtual painter were Dr. Lee Huntington, engineer, Andrew Sheetz, materials engineer, and Brian Everett, lead engineering technician, all from the Corrosion and Coatings Engineering Branch.

Throughout the exposition, NAVSEA leaders gave presentations about their latest endeavors.

Between presentations small business leaders could interact with Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Carderock division’s small business deputy Carlos Duran, Office of Small Business Programs.

“As the liaison between Carderock and small businesses, I connect businesses with the requirement generators so that they can better understand the requirements that we have and how those requirements align with the capabilities of their business,” Duran said. “This helps them submit a well-defined proposal that could possibly win them a contract with Carderock.”

A Carderock highlight was when Huntington donned the virtual reality headset, picked up the virtual paint gun and started “painting” a ship’s hull. The monitor showed the swipes he was making with the gun. He twisted and bent to get to the piping. He was demonstrating the Virtual Painter, while Sheetz, explained the system.

“The virtual painter is a training tool for painters to reduce waste in their processes and teach better painting techniques,” he said. “Paint is a hazardous material in its nature. The more that’s applied to the item of interest the less that it ends up either out in space or as droplets on the floor or missing in places. If you put it on too thick you actually use too much. So, there’s a significant amount of training that goes into the paint application process. Coating is a primary tool to fight corrosion.”

The virtual painter has the dynamics of the coating accounted for. The gun has a series of electronics in it giving it the capability to understand trigger pull and air pressure settings, fan patterns and more. Those multiply back through the software and are modeled against the actual dynamics of the material to give the user what would be the application rate. The painter trainer gives visual cues to part of the paint application process by using industrial paint application tools such as high-velocity, low-pressure guns, a common industrial application tool.

It’s important for a painter to be able to do a coating application correctly and in one iteration reducing the need for rework which makes the maintenance process more expensive. Correct application also extends the longevity of the coating, which will extend the period of time between when a system will need to be repainted. The training tool can be used for any platform where industrial painting is done – ships, submarines, ground vehicles, weapons systems rehabilitation, as well as aviation units.

“There are several different models within the virtual space that you can utilize. This model is called the advanced training tool,” Sheetz said of the demonstration. “The gun is equal to what they would be using. It gives you the feel you would have with a hose similar to that attached to the paint gun. The gun itself is the same type of paint application gun and the controls on it are active. You can measure fan pattern and air pressure and the amount of paint that you trigger.”

In addition to the Marine Corps, Lee Huntington is one of the end users of the Virtual Painter within his work as a Carderock engineer.

“I do a lot of the exterior coatings work within the branch. I do all of our paint systems that go on the outside of ships,” he said. “I do a lot of testing and evaluation both in the lab and in the field. I also do failure analyses on ships, as well. The Virtual Painter does a very good job simulating what you would actually see in a paint booth. I’ve been able to do a lot of this when we may not either have the coating on hand or be able to go into the paint booth.”

Everett constructs and performs most of the testing in-house and in the lab for Carderock.

“I do practical application in-house of the actual paints,” he said. “I believe that this system is a very good tool for actually utilizing and getting a feel for paint application without having to waste material and do set-ups and break downs. It cuts hours, if not days, off of learning how to do it.”

The team demonstrated at the exposition to present the technology and what Carderock is doing with the Marine Corps to a broader base.