My name is Kim and I am a student going into sixth year in secondary school. I enjoy science, especially chemistry and physics, therefore this year I took part in the Munster CanSat 2015 competition in which my team built and programmed a small simulation satellite. The satellite took measurements for altitude and temperature while descending with a parachute after being launched. I also participated in a couple of week-long work placements, one of which was at ENBIO.
When I first arrived at ENBIO I did some research into their SolarBlack and SolarWhite technology and their different processes such as CoBlast. CoBlast simultaneously removes a metal’s oxide layer and applies a dry coating called SolarBlack using a 6-axis robot.
I then got a tour of their CoBlast Research and Development (R&D) lab. This is where they apply SolarBlack as a coating using the CoBlast method. They explained how the chemicals react with the surface of the metal immediately after they remove the oxide layer, providing a very strong bond.
My favourite part of the week was the Tour of the SolarWhite R&D lab in UCD’s engineering building. The SolarWhite coating is applied onto metals using a wet spray process which is controlled by a robot. I was shown how to use the robot and even got to use it a little. I also got to go into the clean room where we had to wear protective gear including a full body suit, gloves, hair net, and shoe covering. They carried out several tests to ensure the quality of the SolarWhite coating – one test was to measure the viscosity of the SolarWhite media before spraying. The thing I found most surprising was the amount of cleaning done in the lab, everything had to be washed before we sprayed SolarWhite to make sure there was no contamination. Finally everything was washed down after to remove the SolarWhite.
Using CAD software I designed different components which can be 3D printed. ENBIO sometimes use this technique to print parts for their machines and the robot if they break or if they may take too long to order. This was enjoyable and I got to print a stand for my phone.
Overall I found the week to be an amazing experience and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found the development work that ENBIO does for the Space Sector to be really interesting.