ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn., Oct. 23, 2006 – Arnold Engineering Development Center has reached a milestone with its Pressure Sensitive Paint system.
A recent demonstration test was conducted on the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter model installed in the center’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel.
Pressure Sensitive Paint applied to a Joint Strike Fighter force and moment model provided data for comparison with data acquired earlier this year from a pressure-instrumented model.
The excellent agreement between the two models validates that pressure data can be acquired without building an expensive pressure instrumented model. The model had 13 pressure taps added to the surface for direct correlation with the Pressure Sensitive Paint data.
“The goal of using Pressure Sensitive Paint is to have the capability to acquire surface pressure data on a wind tunnel model without pressure taps,” said Marvin Sellers, system engineer and developer of Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Pressure Sensitive Paint system.
He said it is conceivable that several million dollars and months could be saved.
“Typically customers fabricate a special wind tunnel model with several hundred pressure taps to measure the pressure distribution,” Sellers explained. “These models can require months to design and fabricate, and cost several million dollars.
“In addition, a special entry into the wind tunnel is required with the model to measure the pressures, and this will cost several million dollars as well,” he noted.
Sellers thinks the selling point for the paint system to Arnold Engineering Development Center customers is the acquisition of pressure data early in the vehicle design stage.
“Pressure Sensitive Paint presents center customers with the opportunity to obtain critical wind tunnel data earlier in the design cycle reducing the risk to the program,” Sellers said. “Also, as aircraft configurations can change during the test and evaluation phase, Pressure Sensitive Paint can provide pressure data on the latest configuration, without the expensive and time-consuming process of constructing a new pressure instrumented model.”
Arnold Engineering Development Center first became involved with the paint system in 1993. The technique uses a special paint and illumination source combined with an extremely sensitive camera to obtain surface pressure data.
The paint is applied to the model in two layers, a white undercoat and the Pressure Sensitive Paint layer. The white undercoat provides a uniform reflective surface for the Pressure Sensitive Paint layer.