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Coating Tech Heads to Space

Thursday, November 3, 2016

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Products developed for use on space vessels are often adapted for use in fields like medicine and consumer products, but that practice reversed itself recently when an Irish company’s coating system for titanium medical implants found an application in orbit.

Spacebus Neo
ESA

The European Space Agency plans to use CoBlast coatings in the Neosat satellite program, working with manufacturers such as Theles Alenia Space, whose Spacebus Neo is pictured.

ENBIO’s CoBlast coating system was first used in medical settings, but the solvent-free coating application method is now being used to protect European telecommunications satellites from harm from the sun’s radiation.

How CoBlast Works

CoBlast uses a single nozzle to prepare the surface to be coated, and apply the coating itself, in powder form. The CoBlast system, according to ENBIO, removes the oxide layer, roughens the surface, and applies the coating. The result, the company says, is a coating that’s thin, flexible and resistant to delamination.

CoBlast
ENBIO

CoBlast uses a single nozzle to prepare the surface to be coated, and apply the coating itself, in powder form. (Shown: CoBlast Solarwhite coating.)

CoBlast coatings typically are applied at 2-5 microns thick. They can be applied to titanium, aluminium, stainless steel, mild steel and many other metals, according to ENBIO.

Ideal for Space

Having a protective coating that’s bonded so thoroughly to the substrate is useful in space applications, where equipment must stand up to unfiltered radiation from the sun. The European Space Agency, which has partnered with ENBIO on the project of getting CoBlast coatings into space, notes that the coatings are “highly stable surfaces, with robust optical and thermal behaviour, whose characteristics can also be customised as desired.”

“Science missions are essentially one-of-a-kind, technically demanding missions, but now our satellite ‘sunscreen’ technology has been proven to work to the necessary standards,” said ENBIO’s Kevin O’Flynn. “ESA now plans to use it on its Neosat programme—working with European satellite manufacturers to design core market telecommunication satellites of the future.”

More Applications

CoBlast coatings, called “Skins,” can be used for purposes other than guarding against the sun. ENBIO says the thin coatings can be used for thermal protection in electronics, or for corrosion protection in marine environments.

   

Tagged categories: Aerospace; Asia Pacific; Coating Application; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Metals; North America; Powder Coatings

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