This project will demonstrate the technical and economic viability of implementing cationic electrodeposition coatings (or e-coat) in depots. Specific objectives include:

  1. Quantifying the economic and environmental impact of an e-coat system for a given depot.
  2. Designing a “portable” pilot e-coat system that can be used to demonstrate the process.
  3. Demonstrating to depot personnel that e-coat operation in depot is feasible through hands-on operation of the pilot e-coat system.
  4. Validating that the process provides equal or better performance over existing coatings.

Technology Description

Cationic e-coat primers have revolutionized corrosion protection in the private sector. The ability to apply a uniform, epoxy-based coating over every surface of intricate parts contributed significantly to extending the service life of automobiles from 2-3 years prior to the invention of cationic e-coat primers, to more than 10 years after their implementation. This corrosion performance is standard even though cationic e-coats are hexavalent chromium-free, hazardous air pollutant (HAP) free, and contain low to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The military recognizes the corrosion benefits of cationic e-coat. There are MIL-SPECs for e-coat, and a variety of e-coats from several suppliers are already qualified for use. E-coat is specified for protecting the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) and is applied by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Oshkosh, AM General, and BAE, as well as many small parts suppliers to the defense industry.

Although the benefits of e-coat compared to spray-applied coatings are known, e-coat use by the Department of Defense is currently limited to OEM purchases, pre-coated replacement parts, and outsourcing. Two barriers to the adoption of e-coat in depots are (1) the misconception that e-coat systems are only designed for industrial operations much larger than depot operations, and (2) the uncertainty that an e-coat system will provide an acceptable return on investment (ROI).

Through a detailed needs assessment at two depots and a process demonstration, this project will demonstrate that the smaller e-coat systems available today can be technically and economically viable in a depot setting. The project will be successful if the cost and performance analysis conducted after the demonstration shows a ROI that justifies depot investment in an e-coat system.


E-coat is chromate-free, HAP-free, low VOC to VOC-free, applied in a dip process that eliminates overspray waste, and provides superior corrosion protection over parts with complex shapes. The uniform and complete barrier that e-coat provides, especially over complex parts, impacts part lifetime, repaint cycles, and the need for rework. Replacing manual spray processes with an automated e-coat deposition system typically improves job quality and reduces waste. For example, coating thickness, coverage, and overspray are known to vary greatly from person to person in a spray operation. With e-coat, thickness and coverage are controlled by time and voltage settings and there is no overspray. (Anticipated Project Completion - 2019)