Design and Innovation 



Tribological systems for demanding environments

The application of good tribology is central to ESR Technology’s design and development activities and we specialise in designing for reliability in the harshest environments.

Our design and development work is focussed on industries where the highest quality levels are required to survive demanding environments and operational extremes. In environments that are better understood we can focus on maximising reliability and optimisation for cost. Our work has supported organisations keep their hardware Some of our first mechanism hardware delivered to the European Space Agency was successfully flown on the ESA Rosetta mission.

Risk mitigation and validation testing are central to our approach when performing such activities and we pride ourselves on working within multidisciplinary teams on complex system developments. We can take a project from concept to hardware delivery with rigorous testing representing a key part of our work.


Precision opto-mechanical hardware

We have particular experience in the design of mechanisms within opto-mechanical hardware. Designing to demanding specifications often places additional constraints on the design, build or operation of our hardware. This makes reliable operation within extreme environments, such as vacuum, all the more challenging.

Examples of flight mechanisms delivered for optical systems include:

• EarthCARE Broadband Radiometer Mechanism Assembly
• Solar Orbiter SPICE Scan & Focus Mechanism
• Laser Communications Terminal Active Bearing Preload Systems for Alphasat and Sentinel2A



Specialist Mechanical Hardware

ESR Technology’s engineers are experienced in taking customer’s ideas or specifications and designing novel machinery and/or bearing concepts from these. Our robust design processes have been developed over many projects developing specialist hardware for challenging applications. The client is very much part of this process, ensuring that the end product meets functional requirements as well as cost, integration and operational efficiency. We support clients across a range of industries including nuclear, oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and terrestrial vacuum industries.

Examples include:

• Friction welding rig for sub-sea pipelines
• Nuclear waste transportation wagons
• Swing bridge bearings
• Bearings for specialist marine applications
• Pipeline internal bore ultrasonic scanning system
• A resettable motorised umbilical separation device for space remote handling applications

We also support our team of consultants in providing design solutions to specific problems encountered by our varied clients.



Test Facilities

We have a particular specialism in developing bespoke mechanical test rigs in support of customer test programmes. Such rigs are carefully developed to address specific loading or environmental conditions encountered in service such that the mechanical interactions or failure mode can be understood. Such testing is critical in understanding complex tribological failures or in validating analytical models. Our team of multi-skilled engineers can develop the complete mechanical hardware and data acquisition and control systems required to simulate complex.





Structural analysis is an important part of our engineering toolkit, allowing us to predict the structural and thermal characteristics of hardware before committing resources to further stages of the development process or to inform our test activities. Using a range of available techniques, we can support system design decisions and optimise performance, demonstrate compliance with industry design codes, or to understand the cause of component failures.

Depending on the nature of the problem, we can employ classical methods or more complex finite element models. Where possible, we correlate analysis results with our test results to ensure that our models accurately reflect reality.

ESR Technology are able to perform a wide range of structural analysis including:

• Static: linear and nonlinear
• Linear dynamic: modal, harmonic, response spectrum, and random vibration analyses
• Thermal and thermo-elastic analysis
• Buckling
• Fatigue
• Bolted joints



Tribological analysis

Our specialism in tribology means that we are familiar with a range of techniques associated with analysis of contacts and lubricant performance. Contacting surfaces perform specific functions and may be related to separable, sliding or high friction interfaces with varying requirements. Where hardware design incorporates contacting surfaces, we can perform analysis of Hertzian stresses and assess the impact of material selection and surface finish. Where we have test data for lubricant lifetime in a particular environment, we can also assess the suitability of these for the desired application. For fluid lubricants we can also assess the operational regime and consider any operational constraints that may apply.

Our experience in analysing tribological systems, test experience with a range of lubricant and material combination, and our understanding of failure mechanisms is key to our ability to develop reliable and robust mechanical hardware for the most demanding applications.


System performance and degradation

The hardware we develop rarely operates in isolation. As such, it is important to understand the performance so that this is taken into consideration when implemented into a higher-level system.

We can support system level development with functional analysis of our hardware. For example, this might be the calculation of error budgets for the subsystem which might consider the selection of certain actuators and sensors, tolerance analysis, thermo-elastic distortions, and dynamic stability amongst other contributions.

The data generated from test rigs or condition monitoring systems (where the hardware exists already) is rich in information, which may inform our engineers about the performance or degradation of mechanical systems. We are able to process and analyse such data to aid our understanding of particular characteristics or potential failures in machinery and to communicate this information within engineering teams.



Assembly, integration and test

Assembly and integration

Our clients have entrusted us with the assembly of their most reliability critical subsystems, in some cases over several decades. Our skilled assembly and integration teams have many years of experience in a range of industries and we are experienced in assembling hardware in controlled environments to the highest quality standards.

We procure and build hardware where we add value, either to the customer’s drawings and specifications or to our own designs where we have developed hardware jointly with the customer. We also work with our clients to ensure that they have the optimum production process for their budgets without compromising on quality. Our facilities and processes ensure that we can supply precisely controlled hardware to our clients at a range of volumes and to schedule.

Assembly facilities include an ISO7 cleanroom, configurable laboratory areas, cleaning facilities, and extensive inspection and measurement equipment.



Test and verification

Our assembly and production activities are underpinned by our extensive test and verification capabilities. Testing may range from simple characterisation testing to comprehensive qualification or validation test programmes on larger projects. Where specialist facilities are required, we work with external test houses.





Material properties are fundamental to tribological design, from hard and wear resistant substrates, to self-lubricating materials and solid lubricant coatings. We are actively engaged in collaborative R&D into a range of advanced materials and processes. Past and ongoing activities in this area include:


• Development of thin-film solid lubricants for demanding environments
• Development of self-lubricating polymers and metallic materials
• Powder metallurgy of hard & wear resistant materials
• Additive manufacture of enhanced functionality mechanism components
• Cleaner and safer passivation of components
• Multi-scale modelling of advanced materials



Lubrication and Life-enhancement Systems

ESR Technology have been at the forefront of lubricant development and validation over the last half-century. In addition to developing lubricants themselves, we have developed technologies aimed at maximising the lifetime and performance of bearing systems operating in critical applications.

Examples include the development of a bearing active preload system (in collaboration with SpaceMech Ltd.), designed to overcome the compromise between spacecraft launch survival and long life or optimal performance in the space environment. This bearing system was implemented in the first technology demonstrators of a European optical communications payload.

More recently, we have developed a bearing housing component with integral lubricant reservoir (patent pending), intended to maximise bearing maintenance intervals or eliminate the need to perform maintenance completely. This system is also compatible with an active relubrication approach.





Bespoke mechanical systems

We have a strong track record in developing innovative mechanical systems and enabling technologies for a range of applications. These are typically mechanical devices requiring high reliability in challenging environments and such projects are often done in collaboration with other project partners. These include:

• Flexure/compliant systems for high accuracy and stability across a range of temperatures
• Innovative mechanical separation and connection devices for harsh environments
• Long-life and low disturbance bearing applications
• Power and data transfer technologies for rotating machinery
• Advanced mechanical test systems


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