Handheld Solution for Verifying Surface Cleanliness


low contact angle

Figure 1. Water drop demonstrating a low contact angle and a clean surface.

high contact angle

Figure 2. Water drop demonstrating a high contact angle and a contaminated surface.

The Surface Analyst™ is an innovative handheld solution for use in the lab and on the factory floor. It reduces waste, rework, and recalls when poorly prepared substrate surfaces lead to bonding, coating, sealing, painting, or printing failure.

Using contact angle measurement, the Surface Analyst measures the cleanliness level of surfaces and determines preparedness for adhesion. Developed and manufactured by BTG Labs, it is a fast, easy, accurate, and nondestructive instrument for manufacturers with critical surface requirements. The Surface Analyst replaces legacy methods such as dyne and water break tests.


Measuring Contact Angle to Determine Surface Cleanliness


The Surface Analyst deposits a highly purified drop of water on the surface. In two seconds, it measures the contact angle and in turn, determines the cleanliness level of a substrate.

When a surface is clean, it emits high energy, and water–as a high energy molecule–spreads out on the surface, in attraction to other high energy molecules (Figure 1). A contaminated surface emits low energy and will cause water to bead up in attraction to itself rather than the low energy surface molecules (Figure 2).

By knowing the volume and area of a drop of water, the contact angle of the water against a given surface can be determined. The larger the contact angle, the more the water beads up on the surface – and therefore the lower the energy level of the surface.

Ensuring a Contaminant Free Surface and a Strong Bond


When adhering, the surface requires a level of cleanliness in order to produce strong, reliable bonds. Ensuring surface condition and consistency is a vital component for guaranteeing success in sealing, coating, bonding, painting, printing or cleaning.  All surfaces contaminate upon exposure, and the presence of contaminants is inevitable. But studying and comprehending the relationship between a contaminant structure and the effects it can have on a bond can help develop more productive monitoring procedures for surface preparation processes, and can also effect the development of stronger adhesives and coating formulations.

Outdated evaluation methods such as dyne and water break are destructive and do not provide reliable, precise, quantifiable surface measurements. The Surface Analyst exemplifies these traits on the factory floor, in seconds.

BTG Labs (formerly Brighton Technologies, LLC), a Materials Science-based technology company, focuses on understanding, quantifying, and controlling surface critical processes in manufacturing. The Surface Analyst instrumentation is widely used in the aerospace, automotive, electronic, medical device, consumer product industries. And it’s found in a vast range of manufacturing and assembly operations. For further information about the Surface Analyst and BTG Labs, call (513) 469-1800 or visit the contact page.