BUMAX selected to overcome galling issues on adaptive secondary mirror for NASA telescope


Within 24 hours, BUMAX provided the customer TNO with urgently needed critical fasteners that overcame their galling issues.

TNO has developed an Adaptive Secondary Mirror for the NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii. Following a manufacturing error that was discovered during the integration phase, TNO required an immediate fastener solution to be able to proceed with the integration.

“We realized that some of the holes in the supporting structure of the assembly of the secondary mirror had been machined to the wrong dimension,” explains Arjo Bos, Systems and Mechanical Lead Engineer at TNO. “We tried standard A4 screws but had immediate issues with galling. With an extremely tight schedule and some dependencies with other projects, we needed a fast solution that would also overcome our galling issue.”

Delivery and assembly within 24 hours

TNO reached out to Pim Oome, the BUMAX Business Development Manager for the Benelux region, who quickly understood their needs and placed an expedited order. Within 24 hours of contacting BUMAX, TNO had received a batch of BUMAX® DX 129 EPK screws at their facility in Delft and had installed them in the secondary mirror assembly.

“BUMAX really saved the day at a point in our project when it was critical that we had no delays,” claims Matias Kidron, Project Manager at TNO. “The next day delivery of the screws was quite a feat and was greatly appreciated by our entire project team and enabled us to stick to our schedule.”

Anti-galling properties

The BUMAX® DX 129 EPK fasteners used for this application were a special variant of the BUMAX standard high-performance DX 129 product grade. DX 129 EPK benefits from even higher surface hardness, making them almost impervious to galling. DX129 EPK also has the advantage of lower surface roughness and a cleaner finish to the fasteners, which eliminates the need for any potential additional lubrication in applications where contamination or outgassing may be of concern.

The high-strength nature of BUMAX® DX 129 EPK screws was not essential but it is an appreciated property by TNO.

“Quickly obtaining anti-galling screws was the most important thing for us but the high strength properties of the BUMAX fasteners is a nice bonus that gives us piece of mind when astronomers are integrating the mirror,” says Bos.

Adaptive secondary mirror allows clearer ground-based astronomy

TNO’s adaptive secondary mirror with a diameter of 244 mm was installed at the IRTF in April 2024. The mirror is based on hybrid variable reluctance actuator technology, which uses small actuators behind the mirror that push and pull the mirror to deform its shape. This allows the mirror to correct for the distortion of the atmosphere to ensure the IRTF’s view of celestial bodies is as sharp and detailed as it can possibly be.

“At TNO, we have a long history of working with adaptive secondary mirrors with a proven track record in the lab, but we have been looking forward to demonstrating our innovative technology on a telescope,” says Bos. “We would certainly use BUMAX screws for other critical connections where galling is an issue and high strength is desirable. This goes beyond our telescope projects at TNO to include other potential space-related applications that we are working on such as satellite instruments that undergo extreme forces during launch,” concludes Bos.

Read more about the project on LinkedIn.

The Adaptive Secondary Mirror being prepared for installation at the NASA’s IRTF in Hawaii

A solution for the world’s largest optical telescope

BUMAX screws have also been used on the European Southern Observatory Extremely Large Telescope (ESO ELT) in Chile, which required a high-strength corrosion-resistant solution.

Learn more about the project.


MAIN PHOTO: The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility near the summit of Maunakea in Hawai‘i. Author – T. Slovinský

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