Millimetre-Wave Manufacturing
21 Mar 2018



RAL Space has a unique world class facility for manufacturing novel precision made components.


​​Laser target compared to the size of a fingertip


​The Precision Development Facility (PDF) provides precision machined terahertz components in support of the RAL Space Millimetre-wave Technology Groups (MMTG) extensive programme of development work. ​

The primary focus is the fabrication of component technology that operates at millimetre wavelengths. Corresponding devices form the basis of scientific research instrumentation that is used in a variety of applications, including radio astronomy and atmospheric remote sensing. The PDF supports these specific activities and the wider precision machining requirements of RAL Space and STFC core facilities. 

The PDF is a world-class research ​and development facility that has invested in some of the very latest CNC technologies to develop bespoke machining strategies and novel prototyping necessary to support and deliver internationally leading instrumentation projects.

Key aspects of the work involve using;

  • An extensive and varied range of machinery including high performance CNC milling machines, turning centres and EDM technology.
  • High performance CAM software for developing complex freeform machining strategies and tool paths for high accuracy form and surface finish specifications.
  • A state-of-the-art single point diamond turning machine with rigid B-axis for machining bespoke optics where control of form and surface finish are required at the nanometre level of accuracy.
  • A suite of non-contact co-ordinate measuring machines to inspect and verify manufactured parts and components. High precision machined components can also be visually inspected using high power stereo microscopes.

The PDF prides itself on the consultative approach it deploys in the manufacturing process from discussing conceptual ideas, prototyping, through to full part realisation. The Facility also offers strategic close support during the assembly, integration and testing of instruments built in RAL Space.