Home Bots & Bullets Robots provide missiles with hypersonic coating

Robots provide missiles with hypersonic coating

by Marco van der Hoeven

Robotics integrator Aerobotix has partnered with Minteq International to help speed up the production of hypersonic missiles and aircraft for U.S. Government projects. Under the agreement, Aerobotix will distribute Minteq’s FIREX RX-2390 Thermal Protection System (TPS) coating for hypersonic flight hardware.

Because of the agreement Aerobotix can immediately assist weapons manufacturing programs by robotically spraying required components, cutting critical weeks in delivery time. Aerobotix’s partnership with Minteq comes at a time when the Pentagon is urging American defense manufacturers to accelerate hypersonic weapons production.

Minteq engaged Aerobotix because of the company’s expertise in robotically spraying parts and test panels within extremely tight tolerances for uniformity and thickness of coverage. Aerobotix also has significant prior experience with major primes using the FIREX product.

Reduce weight, manufacturing time and cost

Aerobotix and the scientists at Minteq worked together to develop a FIREX RX-2390 recipe and a unique robotic paint dispensing system that is optimized for automation and heavy production. The FIREX formulations combine modified epoxy binders with thermally active materials that form cooling gases when exposed to temperatures in excess of 350°F.

Application of TPS coatings requires precision thicknesses control, even distribution of solids, and strong layer-bonding for optimal performance. Minteq notes that Aerobotix’s customized robotic application process provides all this, plus the ability to automatically spray-taper the paint thickness in various areas of the part, which can reduce weight, manufacturing time and cost.


“Our desire was to assist our customers and the U.S. Government in fielding hypersonic missiles and aircraft as quickly as possible,” said Kent Pfeifer, Aerobotix’s process development manager. “By making the commitment to keep fresh FIREX RX-2390 on our shelves, we can immediately assist the major programs by robotically spraying accurate panels and even prototype parts for flight tests. We’ve been robotically spraying, scanning and sanding shrouds and rockets already, and now – with coating on our shelves – we cut critical weeks in delivery time.”

“Aerobotix is spraying our product so much better than could ever be done by hand,” said Mark Breloff, Minteq technical sales manager. “The robot is mixing the coating perfectly, just in time, and applying it so accurately – we are seeing improved performance across the board.”

“Aerobotix can scan the part to get the as-built shape, spray to near-net and then use the robot to sand down to the optimal shape and thickness,” Breloff added. “Lab results are off the charts with this approach, which, most importantly, allows Minteq to show our customers what RX-2390 is really capable of.”

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