Authenticating Supplier Product Quality 

A fundamental critical surface requirement for manufacturers is supplier verification. Validating incoming material can be challenging and even impossible without a way to measure surface cleanliness. When dealing with critical surface requirements, the ability to identify a contaminated surface is crucial and can authenticate supplier quality, but can also be difficult to implement.

When a manufacturer of solar panels encountered such an issue, BTG Labs offered an answer. A major component to the interior assembly of their solar panels is a plastic polymer, Nylon 66. This plastic must be bonded to a portion of the solar cells in such a way that the bond can withstand environmental stresses for at least twenty years. Thus, the surfaces of these polymers, containing critical bonding area requirements, must be properly prepared to hold a resilient bond. The company necessitates that their suppliers not use any mold release when producing their plastic polymer components. Mold release contains silicone, a very low energy material that will prevent a bond from succeeding.

Revealing Unseen Obstacles

The company began to experience bonding failures inconsistently and were unable to identify the surficial issue. The solar panel manufacturer decided to use the Surface Analyst™ to scrutinize the surface of their plastic polymers. Using the Surface Analyst, the company was able to determine that an acceptable surface requirement angle for proper adhesion is 60°. Conversely, some of their surfaces were reading angles in the high eighties and low nineties. This is an indication of a low energy contaminant such as silicone.

With the data obtained using the Surface Analyst, the solar panel manufacturer had concrete figures to take to the supplier. The solar panel manufacturer gained the ability to verify the presence or absence of a silicone contaminant on the surface with non-subjective, quantifiable data that could be presented to the supplier. The manufacturer could communicate clearer with the supplier to ensure their needs were met. Thus, all companies were on the same page. The solar panel manufacturer gained the ability to confidently verify incoming products.