Robotics in Space

At the new ENBIO Space Technologies Centre, preparations have been completed to coat one of the largest parts since the completion of the Solar Orbiter Heatshield. This component is a satellite communications dish which is just over 1100 mm in diameter. Its dimensions highlight the versatility of the robots ENBIO use to perform CoBlast. To date we have coated a large variety of components including highly complex parts smaller than 50 mm and very fine components such as stents and foams.


The use of robotics allows the accurate and repeatable control of process parameters to ensure we can consistently deliver the desired surface treatment each time, on repeated customer parts. In conjunction with the scales of size already highlighted, robotics also allow careful manipulation to achieve predictable coating of both simple and complex geometries alike.


The use of robotics is complemented by real time process monitoring and data logging that ensures both in-house and customer requirements are met to produce the desired surface.


These systems allow us to take a customer part and design bespoke programming regardless how large or small, simple or complex. The programming can be designed and then verified with a computer simulation of the articulation of the robot arm, allowing the parts and relevant programming to be then transferred to the production team to transform the surface with complete confidence.


ENBIO have coated a wide variety of parts for the Space sector with our patented SolarBlack CoBlast surface treatment. Many of these have been used on the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission, as this unique SolarBlack surface allows these parts to withstand harsh conditions. From large dimensions to complex features, a new, custom fixture unit shown in the figure below, allows us to manipulate and rotate parts in the chamber in tandem with the robotic manoeuvres. The careful synchronisation of these machines allows us to give a bespoke solution to customer parts and seek out the optimal transformation of customer surfaces.

Dr Michael Leonard

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