Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

October, 2008

CARC Paint Colors

Q: Our customer is requiring us to paint our product using CARC paint. The primer is per mil-prf-23377 and topcoat per mil-dtl-53039. My question is per mil-dtl-53039 are we limited to the 19 colors they list in the mil spec or can we get the CARC in any color defined by fed-std-595?

A: No you can't. The CARC colors are specifically for camouflaging purposes, where the word "camouflage" refers to both visual and infrared (IR) camouflage. To achieve IR camouflage the military has conducted experiments to insure that specific colors camouflage objects when viewed at night using infrared goggles and cameras.

Moreover, the abbreviation CARC stands for Chemical Agent Resistant Coatings. However, CARC top coats MUST stand up to the chemical agent resistance required of military equipment that might come into contact with nuclear, chemical or biological attack.

You can purchase generic polyurethanes in any color from most vendors . If it is imperative that your customer wants the his color to meet these stringent chemical resistant requirements, you would need to go through extensive testing with live chemical agents. To the best of my knowledge only a handful of laboratories are approved to handle these exceptionally dangerous, potentially fatal compounds. The Army Research Lab in Aberdeen, PA uses a military laboratory to perform these tests and you could approach them if need be.


Ron Joseph

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