The Realisation section of the Engineering group is involved in the production of space hardware. The manufacturing of space qualified hardware is an inhouse activity using the cleanroom facilities, pick and place machining, and a well-equipped workshop.
The electronic assembly equipment and clean rooms are on a level that meets the quality assurance requirements for the production of space electronics. SRON invested in high density surface-mount technology equipment and high-speed PCB layout design capabilities, used by our experienced PCB-Lay outers and certified assembly-technicians, in order to realize high-tech hardware.
PCB Design and Simulation
In the realization group we design PCB’s and execute all electronic assembly tasks (PCB’s, cables, racks, cryogenic setups, etc). Our skilled PCB designers use Mentor Graphics Xpedition software for the creation of a wide range of PCB technology. Amongst these are circuits for very high reliability (for use in space), high-speed digital, radio frequency (RF), cryogenic and mixed technology (analog/digital) systems. They are for use in situations such as detector electronics (flight), test setups and RF projects. We have extensive knowledge about the thermal, mechanical, electrical and EMC behaviour of these circuits. Detailed simulations using software such as MG Hyperlynx are used to evaluate designs before committing to hardware.
PCB Assembly and Integration
PCB’s are assembled by our trained and certified personnel. They either use hand soldering or our surface mount process, which consists of a screen printing machine, a automatic pick and place machine, and a vapour phase oven. We also use specialized equipment for lead forming, bonding, inspection and de-golding, and this all takes place in our high specification cleanroom rated at ISO class 7. Specific areas are rated at ISO class 5. We also build racks, assemble cable harnesses, and support our projects with many original solutions.
Cryogenic wiring and assemblies
For our cryogenic detector research, many creative and leading edge techniques are needed. For example, we develop special solutions for loom wiring and its connections, coils with thinner than 100µm wire and over 1500 windings, brackets with integrated temperature sensors, or bonded SQUIDs. Our assembly team has a great deal of experience in these fields.
The mechanical instrument hardware is manufactured in the SRON well-equipped workshops, or made externally in cooperation with qualified suppliers. The assembly and integration (of flight instruments) is done in the SRON clean room. Given the innovative character of the designs and the high quality that has to be realized, a high level of workmanship is necessary (and available at SRON). To facilitate the instrument realization, often dedicated technologies have to be developed first.