News + Science from the Engineers of the Surface Analyst

  • The desktop goniometer is a widely-used and accepted method of obtaining surface energy measurements of materials in the lab setting.

    For those unfamiliar, the goniometer uses the “profile-view method,” with water contact angle obtained optically as viewed from the side.

    This method effectively only measures two-points of the droplet.

    When it comes to low contact angles, engineers, quality managers and operators alike need to be aware of the problems that arise in using this method.

    …Read More


    On Friday, February 2nd, current University of Cincinnati materials science & engineering graduate students and faculty will have the opportunity to hear one of their fellow alumni speak.

    Dr. Giles Dillingham, having earned his Ph. D. in Materials Science from U.C. in 1987, has been invited to speak at numerous top conferences in the materials science community. He’s widely known for his ability to effectively communicate technical topics with enthusiasm in simple and practical terms.

    An avid classic motorcycle enthusiast who also enjoys working restoring and riding vintage bicycles, Giles welcomed the opportunity to speak at his alma mater.

    Giles is the CEO and Chief Scientist of BTG Labs, which Giles founded in the late 1990’s and performs a wide range of both basic and applied research, with a primary focus being adhesion, surface, and interface analysis.

    Starting in 2000, Giles and the BTG Labs team collectively created the Surface Analyst, the first practical handheld instrument for objectively quantifying the surface energy of almost any surface using water contact angle.

    His presentation, Understanding and Controlling the Bond Surface in Manufacturing for Reliable Adhesive Bonding, will be happening this Friday, February 2nd from 2:30 pm – 3:25 pm in Zimmer Hall, Room 413, at the University of Cincinnati.  The event is open to the public.

  • How do we obtain FDA validation on our medical tubing when there’s no way to show quality in a measurable and specific way?

    A question all too commonly faced in the medical device industry, with the answer meaning acceptance of the product and the ability to sell without risking legal implications, and more importantly, the lives of patients.

    The new year brings new focus on solving business problems, many that have been present for years. Our focus this year, will be highlighting the stories of real customers who’ve gone on their own journey to discovering how the Surface Analyst can give new life to businesses seeking to answer these key questions.

    So, let’s have a look at the unique challenge faced by a medical tubing manufacturer when dealing with catheters, and how we helped them in their customer journey on the way to FDA validation.

    Having previously been using dyne inks, the manufacturer had only a subjective and interpretive solution to gauging the quality of their PTFE coating.

    Furthermore, the cumbersome nature of dyne left a huge need for a factory floor solution that could quickly, easily, and accurately measure tubing in-line during production.

    Consider this:

    How can a manufacturer that desires to produce a product at scale rely on a method of quality testing that leaves the door open for “good enough,” in an industry where failure, means lives at risk?

    A different solution was needed.

    Our sales team successfully demonstrated, with the use of a custom-made fixture to hold the medical tubing in place, how the Surface Analyst could answer that question. …Read More

  • Happy New Year from BTG Labs

    by Hunter Brankamp January 2018

    Our President, Tom McLean and founder Giles Dillingham sharing in the joy of this past holiday season.

    Ho, ho, ho! Merry Chri…….wait, that’s already happened….and New Years too!

    First off, from everyone here at BTG Labs, we want to wish you, the reader and customer (or soon-to-be-customer), a happy and healthy New Year!

    What a time for high spirits, and we hope that your organization charges into 2018 with spirits equally as high as your surface energies!

    While our energy might seem to just be on the surface, as we may have had just a cup o’ coffee too many, in all reality we are deeply excited to continue our growth in the new year, and MOST importantly, helping you and your organization to grow as well.

    Our team here at BTG Labs grew by almost 50% last year, adding new, talented employees and improving all departments and operations in order to best serve you, our valued customer.

    Heading into 2018 will see some renewed focus on our efforts to grow our communication with our customers. We feel that business is a continual conversation, and not simply a transaction.

    We’ll be moving into the social media realm to bring you relevant, entertaining, and fresh content to help you make the best decisions related to your processes and on the larger scale, your business goals.

    We will be asking for your input on a regular basis, and we hope you feel compelled to join the conversation, as we feel compelled to spread the excitement for the power that we are giving organizations across all industries.

    Remember, there was once a time when surface energy was a guessing game, and due to the vision and action of our humble founders, we seek to pass along to you the gift of business insights that will lead you to success in your operations.

    Heading off and into the new year, with hope, joy, peace and hustle. Let’s get it going together!


    BTG Labs

  • Happy Holidays from the BTG Labs Team

    by Emily Walsh December 2017

    The BTG Labs team dressed in their holiday best to celebrate another successful year

    During this holiday season, BTG Labs reflects on another great year.

    In 2017, the team grew by 53%, expanding almost every department with new, talented members.

    Throughout the year, BTG Labs has kept busy, traveling coast to coast for trade shows and conferences in industries ranging from film and flexible packaging to medical device and globally for visits to both new and existing customers.

    The new website, is heavier with content and new pages including a Services page featuring the Process Development Packages and the popular Extended Care Plan; and the Shop page for purchasing Surface Analyst accessories such as battery packs, water cartridges, AC adaptors, and Performance Verification Check Surface (PVCS) cards. The new pages allow Surface Analyst users to more efficiently order accessories or attain BTG Labs services to ensure all instruments are running seamlessly.

    …Read More

  • Recap: CAMX 2017

    by Emily Walsh December 2017

    Last week, BTG Labs exhibited and presented at the largest composites show and conference: CAMX 2017. Despite a set-back due to Hurricane Irma, causing the date to be rescheduled from September to December, the show attracted a large turn out with hundreds of industry specialists to exchange the latest in composite innovation.

    As manufacturers of the fast, easy, accurate, and hand-held Surface Analyst that is used widely in the composites industry, CAMX is a show that BTG Labs anticipates every year.

    BTG Labs Sales Engineer Paul McLean, who hosted a booth alongside Sales Engineer Alex Bien, reflects on the event: …Read More

  • Connect with BTG Labs at CAMX 2017

    by Christian Meininger December 2017

    BTG Labs will exhibit at CAMX 2017, The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, which will run December 11-14 in Orlando, FL. BTG Labs will host booth N17. Visit our booth for live demonstrations of the Surface Analyst.

    BTG Labs’ CEO and Chief Scientist Dr. Giles Dillingham will give a presentation entitled “Rapid Development of Surface Treatment Processes” on Wednesday, December 13 at 2:00 pm, Room W209A.

    Giles will discuss the use of rapid water contact angle measurements to screen surface preparation methods for adhesive bonding processes, and the transition of these measurements into the manufacturing environment to ensure long-term control. The course will review successful application of water contact angle measurements in laser surface preparation, peel ply and plasma treatment and secondary bonding of dissimilar materials in aircraft repair. Add this course to your MyCAMX schedule here.

    Giles will also be teaching a short course along side BTG Labs’ partner Lou Dorworth of Abaris Training Resources. This short course titled, “Surface Preparation & Adhesion Principles: Successful Bonding of Composites” will examine methods for achieving long-lasting bonds to laminated RFP composite structures by focusing on techniques to ensure proper surface preparation and surface treatment.

    This course will take place Monday, December 11 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm in room W207C. Add it to your MyCAMX schedule here.

    If you bond, coat, clean, seal, print, or paint, be sure to add the BTG Labs booth to your schedule here.

  • Manufacturing a product to withstand the environmental stresses of wind, rain, and sediment is challenging enough. But, when you add saltwater and wave action to the mix, the detrimental threat of corrosion increases significantly.

    Anti-corrosive or anti-fouling coatings and protective paints serve to protect ships against those environmental threats.

    But, the coating or paint is only as strong as its adhesive quality. If the adhesion fails, the coating or paint chips and the ship becomes vulnerable to corrosion. Failures in the field can be both costly and dangerous.

    Ensuring quality adhesion is the key to guaranteeing successful protection. But, how can quality adhesion be achieved?

    It all starts at the surface. …Read More

  • In some industries–including film and flexible packaging–dyne is the primary language. BTG Labs’ Surface Analyst uses water contact angle measurements as a fast easy, objective, and non-destructive alternative to dyne inks.

    The main concern we hear from manufacturers is that both the suppliers and the customers speak dyne as their standard.

    The answer is the Surface Analyst’s Dyne Mode. This unique feature takes the Surface Analyst’s default contact angle measurement and automatically converts the measurement into a dyne/cm readout, directly on the instrument. This mode allows manufacturers to maintain their investment in the dyne measurement language.

    BTG Labs believes in dyne measurements, but not dyne inks. Manufacturers using dyne inks struggle with inaccuracy and subjectivity, leaving much room for error. Furthermore, because of dyne inks’ destructive nature, users can’t measure on the actual part. This leaves dyne inks virtually impossible for testing the part on the factory floor. …Read More

  • Of all the challenges manufacturers face, creating and optimizing critical surface processes for various materials can be very difficult. Traits such as location, size, shape, and texture can add to the challenge. The success of any critical surface process requires an in-line, fast, easy, and accurate verification method.

    That’s why more and more manufacturers are turning to the Surface Analyst. Whether it’s bonding, painting, printing, cleaning, coating, or sealing, BTG Labs’ Surface Analyst optimizes critical surface processes and monitors surface treatment on virtually any surface so the product is guaranteed to deliver.

    Surface Analyst drop on a lens

    BTG Labs engineered the Surface Analyst to adapt to any application directly on the factory floor. Patented Ballistic Deposition deposits a stream of micro-droplets on the surface; these micro-droplets contain kinetic energy which allows the drops to overcome various textures and different angles without interfering with measurement accuracy. The drop size can also be adjusted so that measurements can be taken on any sized surface from a giant wind turbine to a minuscule medical catheter.

    …Read More