Conventional corrosion protection of steel structures has usually involved the application and reapplication of lead-based paint (LBP), a material now known to be highly toxic and likely to find its way into the environment. LBP is no longer used in the field, but repair crews, nearby communities, and the environment may be exposed to unacceptably high levels of lead as the substrates of older structures are prepared for repainting during routine M&R operations. Conventional dust-containment enclosures used onsite during surface preparation (abrasive blasting) are often inadequate. The most effective containment technologies, on the other hand, tend to be expensive and cumbersome. All of these factors make surface preparation and recoating slow, technically difficult, physically demanding, and hazardous to the worker and the environment. Automated technologies have the potential to address all aspects of these interrelated infrastructure M&R problems. An example of such a technology is the Automated Thermal Spray System (ATSS). The ATSS utilizes a triaxial array of linear motion actuators to form a robot capable of performing preprogrammed sequences. The demonstration proved that the ATSS can successfully remove deteriorated lead-based paint from a steel bridge and then apply a protective coating to the exposed surface.

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