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Aerobotix automates coating for hypersonic missile parts
US industrial robotics integrator Aerobotix has put into operation an automated production line to provide thermal protection and aerodynamic consistency for hypersonic missiles.
‘A robotic assembly line scans, sands, paints, and measures complex missile components achieving critical tolerances required for hypersonic flight,’ the company announced on 30 March, adding: ‘This process will allow for consistent application of MINTEQ's FIREX RX-2390 ablative coating to shield the missile structure from the extreme temperatures of hypersonic flight.’
An automated Shape Fidelity Scanner records the dimensions of each component. This data is used to generate a custom path to scuff sand each component for optimal coating adhesion. An explosion-proof paint robot then applies dozens of layers of FIREX RX-2390.
‘Our robotic process allows us a tolerance of one mil or one-thousandth of an inch,’ said Aerobotix process engineering manager Kent Pfeifer, adding that this precision is impossible with traditional hand spraying methods.
Using the robotic process, Aerobotix ‘can essentially spray half the thickness of a sheet of paper consistently across an entire missile’, Pfeifer said. ‘Repeated over dozens of layers, we can achieve a level of accuracy that is physically impossible with the traditional method of spraying by hand.’
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