ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory
13 Mar 2018



The ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory is located within STFC. RAL Space provides the laboratory with specialist advice and monitoring on product and quality assurance.

The ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory

​​​ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory


A key aim of the laboratory is to exploit the expertise and world-leading facilities that are available on the Harwell Campus, to assess new material processes, joining techniques and 3D printing technologies for application in space. More information about our involvement can be found on the STFC website.

The laboratory tests samples of materials used for space projects and supports a wide range of specialist topics including additive manufacturing, joining technologies and assessment of new materials.

The electronics group at RAL Space has used the laboratory to do an analysis on a component. The laboratory also offers services in powder characterisation, metrology, microstructural characterisation and heat treatment, mechanical testing and failure analysis, and non-destructive residual stress measurement.

Companies use the ESA-RAL Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory due to the specialist and state of the art equipment it houses. These include:

Phoenix vtomex scannerLEO 1530 VP Carl Zeiss SEM​​ (image left)LEO 1530 VP Carl Zeiss SEM tool.
  • FEG ZrO source and GEMINI optics for ultra-performance sub-micron imaging
  • Oxford Instruments X-Max 80mm2 EDX system
  • EDAX EBSD system

Phoenix v|tome|x (image right)

  • ​Up to 225kV 2D x-ray inspection and 3D computed tomography
  • GE reconstruction and VGStudio software for 3D analysis  

Quorum Q150R ES Coater
Testometric M500-50AT machine

Testometric M500-50AT​ (image left)

  • 50kN load cell, range or grips and strain gauges, winTest™ Analysis software
  • JLS split vertical furnace for high temperature testing
  • 50kN capacity
Quorum Q150R ES Coater (image right)
  • Allows sputter coating with carbon, gol​d, platinum or combination
  • Precise film thickness monitor​​

Buehler SimpliMet™ XPS1 Mounting System (image left)Buehler Isomet® 4000 Precision SawBuehler SimpliMet™ XPS1 Mounting System.

  • SmartCool™ technology optimising process time and minimising water use
  • 30 mm mount sizes

Buehler Isomet® 4000 Precision Saw (image right)

  • Provides reliable, repeatable results due to automated SmartCut™ operation
  • Manual mode of operation for cutting with precision in the order of 2 microns
  • Blade speeds of 200-5000rpm 

Heat treatments (image left)Programmable polishing tableBorel furance heat treatment machine

  • Borel tubular furnace for heating up to 1500 ⁰C in controlled environments
  • Carbolite Gero NR30 natural convection oven for heating to 300 ⁰C  
  • Carbolite RHF air furnace for heating to 1500 ⁰C

Polishing Equipment (image right)

  • Two Struers LaboPol 5 polishers with adaptable discs.
  • Saphir 550  12" polisher with pre-programmable polish parameters
  • Pace Technologies Giga 1200 vibratory polisher for polishing samples ready for back scattered analysis.​

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries