The Iowa Waste Reduction Center’s Spray Technique Analysis and Research for Defense (STAR4D) program has gone through many transitions since its start in 2003.  The program originally began as a means to provide effective painter training to the U.S. Armed Forces. Now in its 15th year, the STAR4D program continues to provide hands-on painter training to military personnel both on-location as well as our 16,000 ft² facility in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park. Recently, STAR4D has also added the actual painting of military assets to its portfolio helping the U.S. DoD and its contractors address the corrosion of military assets.Painter

Chris Lampe, STAR4D program manager stated that “moving from training people how to paint military assets to actually doing the process itself was quite a change for us. It took us a while to adjust, but it was something that we were happy to take on.”

The program has been operating under the Marine Corps Corrosion and Prevention Control (CPAC) since 2011 working with Marine Corps bases around the country that house all kinds of military assets such as Humvees, tanks, trailers, multipurpose buckets, portable diesel engine generators, and fuel and water pump tanks. Last year, CPAC began sending various corroded military assets to STAR4D where they will be taken through a 3 stage process of stripping, painting, and refinishing. This process usually ranges from 5-10 days, depending on how bad the corrosion and how big the asset is.

The first step in the process is evaluation. This helps determine what areas of the asset need to have previous paint and built-up corrosion removed. Assets that range from normal to heavy corrosion usually require abrasive blasting, however, if some spots of the asset remain in good shape, they may use other methods such as spot blasting or hand sanding.

After the evaluation stage, there is a 2-day cleaning and surface preparation stage that the military asset undergoes. This includes dissembling, washing, and the actual blasting of the asset. Once the asset is clean and all necessary coating is stripped off, the asset is ready to proceed to the coating stage.

The assets require a 3-day coating process, starting with a zinc rich primer, then an epoxy primer, and a final topcoat.  Once the topcoat is applied and cured, if camouflage is required, it is applied. Additional undercoating, as well as a chip and abrasion resistant coating, will be added to the assets after the topcoat and camouflage are done. Finally, the recommended stencils will be added to the assets. Stencils usually involve a serial number, base name, and date when the asset was painted. The STAR4D program is very fortunate to be provided with these stencils through a partnership with the UNI Graphix Club, a student-run organization on campus.Military Asset: Humvee

In order to help with readiness and corrosion control, the STAR4D program will send CPAC weekly updates on how many assets were painted during the week as well as the number of hours it took to complete. STAR4D is required to refinish two United States Marine Corps (USMC) assets a month, for a total of 24 a year. This allows staff to stay up to date with new developments in the painting and coating industry, while regularly applying the skills and techniques we teach to real-world situations.

As a part of the University of Northern Iowa’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center and operating under the Marine Corps Corrosion and Prevention Control (CPAC), the STAR4D program continues to do great work with painter training and military assets. Tom Giblin, Senior Research technician states, “Working at UNI, we are proud to be involved in the Marine Corps Corrosion and Prevention Control (CPAC),  not only to save the military money but to also raise awareness of the university.”


For more information over the STAR4D Program, click here

Abby PalmerAbout the Author
Abby Palmer
General/Marketing Intern
Iowa Waste Reduction Center

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