Creative scientists and engineers work with universities and government research labs to explore technological feasibility with a goal toward proof of concept.
Managing the visual signature on military tactical vehicles by matching paint color to the surroundings significantly reduces detection by enemy combatants.Â Black tires and tracks, however, can be in direct contrast to the vehicle and surroundings (see US Army image at right) and constitute a large portion of the vehicleâ€™s visible profile.Â There is a critical need for the Army to be able to apply a durable, color-matching coating that can be simply applied to vehicle tires and treads thereby reducing the overall vehicle signature, providing additional protection for our combat soldiers.
Through a short Phase I SBIR program, Luna quickly set to work to prove the feasibility of our proposed approach.Â Key objectives of the program were good adhesion to the tire, easy application, and color matching to existing paint.Â Luna worked to match a single color (top), and to achieve a range of matched colors (bottom).
Adhesion was tested through with a variety of small sample experiments including tensile testing, mandrel bend, environmental exposure testing, and cross hatch adhesion (right).Â In this test rubber is coating with the color coat and then into 100 small squares to see if the coating will peel away from the substrate.
Finally, a fully formulated coating was prepared and spray applied to full tires.Â These were run in an automotive test facility for thousands of miles until the tire itself failed – but the coating never delaminated from the rubber.
Because of the creativity, experience, teamwork, and facilities at Luna we were able to prove out the feasibility of a color matching rubber tire coating in only a few short months on a shoestring budget.Â We leverage these assets every day across our core competencies in materials, sensors and systems, and human health sciences to create commercializable solutions for our customers.