Space Wet Blasting

Finishing components to the high standards required for the rigour of space


Components designed for use in space face a unique set of challenges due to the harsh environment, extreme conditions, and the need for high reliability. Just a few of the key challenges for components include:

Temperature extremes - The temperature in space can vary drastically, from extremely cold to scorching hot, depending on whether an object is in direct sunlight or shadow. Components must be able to withstand these temperature fluctuations without malfunctioning.

Vacuum conditions - Space is a near-vacuum environment, which can lead to issues like outgassing where trapped gases within materials are released due to the vacuum conditions. Outgassing can contaminate sensitive components and optical surfaces.

Micrometeoroid and debris impact - Even small particles traveling at high velocities in space can pose a significant threat to components. Shielding or protective measures are often necessary to prevent damage from micrometeoroid impacts.

Limited access for maintenance - Unlike terrestrial environments where components can be easily repaired or replaced, space systems are often far from Earth and difficult to access for maintenance or repairs. Components must be designed to operate for extended periods without needing frequent servicing.

Vibration and mechanical stress - Launching and manoeuvring spacecraft can subject components to intense vibrations and mechanical stresses. Components need to be structurally robust to withstand these forces.

Longevity - Space missions can last for years or even decades. Components must be designed to have a long operational life, which can be a challenge considering the harsh conditions they face.

The vibration and mechanical stress of launch

Overall, designing components for space requires a deep understanding of the unique challenges posed by the environment and a strong focus on reliability, durability, and adaptability to ensure successful operation in the extreme conditions of space.

Wet blasting (or vapor blasting) is capable of finishing metal and composite components to the extremely high standards required for the harsh conditions of space. Benefits include…
Cutting inserts fitted to the Mars Rover drill have been finshed in a Vapormatt Tiger

Cutting inserts fitted to the Mars Rover drill have been finshed in a Vapormatt Tiger


  • Process control – Wet blasting is more controllable than any other type of finishing process. Controllable elements include air pressure and volume, slurry pressure, water temperature, water ph, water conductivity, filtration, rinsing, drying, gun angle and range, media concentration and process speed. All of these variables ensure the precise finish required can be achieved. Learn more.
  • Uniform finishing and repeatability – Automation delivers the precise finish required to every part of the component’s surface – every time.
  • Finishing to a specific Ra – The high degree of process control mentioned above in conjunction with an appropriate blast media allows finishing to a specific surface roughness (Ra) for the application required.
  • Sterilisation – Finishing to a specific Ra includes finishing surfaces to the correct Ra range for sterilisation. Wet blasting with glass beads leaves a surface roughness typically between 0.25 and 0.6µm Ra – the optimum surface Ra for surfaces that need to be sterilized. Less than 0.25 µm Ra is suboptimal as microbes can effectively 'stick' to the surface and above 0.6µm Ra creates a larger surface area for microbes to populate. Learn more.
  • Bonding – Wet blasting creates a consistently clean, high-quality, and reactive ‘wet-out’ surface that is perfect for effective bonding. In turn, this ensures maximum bond strength. Learn more.
  • Coatings – Wet blasting surfaces prior to coating ensures smooth consistent application and durability. The process can also be used to peen coatings after application and for selective coating removal. Learn more.
  • Composites – Wet blasting is used extensively to prepare composites for bonding, lacquering, or painting. The process removes the waxy residue left by the autoclave without damaging fibres. Learn more.
  • Additive manufactured (AM) components – When it comes to AM components, wet blasting performs a number of tasks, including the cleaning and preparation of surfaces for bonding or painting, removal of powder from internal channels, and improved fatigue performance. Learn more.
  • Aerospace – Aerospace is the industry that helped bring wet blasting to the world. It all began in the late 1940s with Sir Frank Whittle and the development of the jet engine when Norman Ashworth developed the first wet blasting machines to produce surface finishing of sufficient quality. The Ashworth family run Vapormatt to this day and our wet blasting machines can be found in many of the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers. Learn more.
  • Vapormatt 4.0 – Our own Industry 4.0 solution continually monitors performance to ensure finishing is maintained at the high standard required whilst increasing production time by decreasing downtime, reducing the stock holding of spare parts and increasing machine life. Learn more.
The maticulous construction of a satelite

The maticulous construction of a satelite

In conclusion…

Wet blasting delivers the high quality, meticulous finishing that is so essential for all components exposed to the harsh conditions of space. The versatility of wet blasting lends itself well to the complexity and variability of components typically required.

Contact us to find out how we can help finish your components to the very high standards required for Space.