March 30, 2021

Aerobotix missile 400x275Aerobotix, a robotics integrator and metrology company, has announced it is now operational with a next-generation hypersonic missile production line. The line uses robotics to scan, sand, paint and measure complex missile components to achieve the critical tolerances required for hypersonic flight.

The company said using robotics 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 while also providing aerodynamic consistency. The process starts with an automated Shape Fidelity Scanner, which records each component’s as-built dimensions. This data is used to generate a custom path to scuff sand each component for optimal coating adhesion, Aerobotix said. The robot then utilizes a non-contact measuring tool to record the wet coating thickness, to make sure it is within tolerance.

“Our robotic process allows us a tolerance of one mil or one-thousandth of an inch”, said Ken Pfeifer, process engineering manager at Aerobotix. “To put that in perspective, we can essentially spray half the thickness of a sheet of paper consistently across an entire missile. Repeated over dozens of layers, we can achieve a level of accuracy that is physically impossible with the traditional method of spraying by hand.”

In addition to their latest production line, Aerobotix was named as one of the projects in a $2.3 million project for the ARM Institute and the Air Force Research Lab. Aerobotix and the University Connecticut are working on developing an autonomous masking application, which would provide precision placement of tape during the fabrication of aircraft parts.

The company, which is now merged with Shape Fidelity, provides turnkey FANUC robotics solutions for the aerospace and defense industries. Headquartered in Huntsville, Ala., the company creates automated robotic solutions for high-value, high-precision components, aircraft, and vehicles. The company said it has more than 130 robotic systems installed in the U.S. and abroad. More details are available at its website.