Depot Painters Use Virtual Reality to Hone Their Craft
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Depot Painters Use Virtual Reality to Hone Their Craft
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A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new Virtual Reality STAR4Defense Painter Training and Certification Program at the Corpus Christi Army Depot Aviation Center on October 21, 2011.

Special guest, Graig Jolley from the United States Marine Corps Corrosion Prevention and Control team, spoke and represented the U.S. Marine Corps team who oversees the STAR4D program in Iowa.

STAR4D trains and certifies painters, quality control inspectors and pre-shop analysis personnel to industrial standards. The customized training for military spray technicians includes traditional classroom and hands-on methods using modern painting equipment that saves, time, material and taxpayer money.

To become a certified painter for a year, painters must pass a three-part exam. The exam includes the Virtual Reality Paint Simulator, a written exam and spraying a test panel that follows the requirements of STAR4D.

The Virtual Reality Painting Simulator uses a flat video screen, projector, computer and an electronic spray gun with a laser pointer.

"It uses electronic data and it flashes a part up on the screen and the painter uses the technique used in the class to improve his painting skills," said James Dussliere, Painter Supervisor and CCAD STAR4D Trainer. "You can turn a button over on the screen and you can actually see the thickness of the paint that you have sprayed."

The new paint equipment and methods reduce hazardous waste, rework and used materials yet ensures customer satisfaction, a safer work environment and cost savings. The technology and training allows students to gain practice while remaining environmentally friendly by not wasting paint, solvent and personal protective equipment.

"There is also a unique focus on paint thickness and paint adhesion on the aircraft that we paint and it's critical to get the right amount of paint on because it reduces the amount of weight and protects the aircraft from corrosion," said Dussliere.

The process uses fewer coats of paint resulting in a lighter helicopter by as much as 20 pounds. This weight reduction translates into more fuel or cargo offering, improved mission and life-saving capability.

"We are very excited to have this program and we're anxious to try it out on the field to support our mission, supporting the Warfighter," said Joe Charles, Painter Supervisor.