In the early 2000s, the U.S. Airforce recruited BTG Labs to aid in the development of bonding technologies for composite materials to replace heavier aluminum and titanium in aircraft manufacturing. Carbon fiber composites provide lighter, stronger options for aircraft materials. But, to realize these advantages composites must attach by bonding, not by mechanical fasteners. The primary obstacle to bonding has been the lack of a practical way to inspect a bond surface and ensure that they have been prepared in a way that will produce a strong, reliable bond. Thus, they needed a method to adhere the composites effectively, efficiently, and confidently.

Learn how a few drops of water, American ingenuity, and an Air Force SBIR contract are changing how we design and build in the future.