News + Science from the Engineers of the Surface Analyst

  • Challenges arise when verifying critical surface processes on the factory floor when measuring hard to reach areas and varying angles. The Surface Analyst conquers those challenges with the unique ability to measure on vertical surfaces which include assembled parts and hard to reach spots. This allows for easier surface analysis on the factory floor.

    This ability is possible because of patented Ballistic Deposition which deposits a pulsed stream of micro droplets with enough kinetic energy to overcome surface roughness and textures.

    A few examples of the Surface Analyst’s ability to measure on vertical surfaces on the factory floor:

    • Airplane wings prior to bonding, painting, and repair
    • Canopy of jet fighters after cleaning
    • Wind turbine blades prior to bonded repair
    • Silkscreen bottles post flame treatment
    • Ship hulls prior to painting and bonding
    • Interior of automobile headlights prior to application of anti-fog coating
    • Windshield bond lines prior to sealing
    • Class A paint surface for decals applications and reapplications
    • Measuring appliances after metal cleaning and prior to power coating

    …Read More

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  • Join BTG Labs August 29 at 2pm EDT for the webinar “How to Establish Quantitative Control of Cleaning Processes” hosted by Products Finishing, presented by Chief Scientist Dr. Giles Dillingham.

    Products Finishing is a reliable source for the latest in surface finishing technology and updates. They connect manufacturers with expertise in finishing including industrial plating, painting, powder coating, cleaning, pre-treatment, and mechanical finishing.

    This webinar will explore the importance of verifying and monitoring cleaning processes prior to bonding, coating, painting, and sealing. Any critical surface process requires a properly cleaned surface. In-place surface cleanliness verification is the only way to assure the surface is properly prepared for the next step.

    …Read More

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  • Presenting the BTG Labs Online Shop

    by Christian Meininger August 2017

    BTG Labs is pleased to announce that the online shop is now live. Easily find and order your Surface Analyst™ accessories. Products include the Fluid Cartridge, Performance Verification Check Surface, AC Adapter, Battery Charger, and Battery Pack. Keep your Surface Analyst up to date and running smoothly with these accessories.

    We plan to add our Extended Care Plan online soon, which includes annual calibration, priority access phone support, and a loaner instrument if your Surface Analyst ever needs repair or maintenance.

    The shop will facilitate a simple, fast transaction for BTG Labs customers.

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  • Print Isn’t Dead

    by Emily Walsh August 2017

    Contrary to popular belief, print isn’t dead: at least not printed packaging, an industry growing to a worth of $8 billion of the $20 billion global print market.

    The printed packaging market is booming. As with any growing industry, manufacturers must work vigorously to produce the best product and continue developing better ones.

    Some of the newer developments include smarter surface processes. Que BTG Labs. When it comes to surface processes, we’re in our element. As experts in materials science, we have the ability to optimize critical surface processes for manufacturers—including printed packaging.

    Any printing involves critical surface processes including supplier quality check, surface treatment, verification, shelf life, and trouble shooting.

    The Surface Analyst improves these areas of printed packaging. This surface cleanliness gauge determines the quality of incoming product; sets or optimizes specifications; verifies surface treatments such as corona and flame; determines the shelf life of the material after treatment; and trouble shoots printing issues.

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  • Nestled in the tall pines of the Jemez Mountains lies the Los Alamos National Laboratory. This center of scientific excellence, brings together some of the top minds in the world to maintain the country’s nuclear arsenal.

    This maintenance requires precise attention to detail and includes upkeep and repairs.

    Dr. Dillingham presented to the lab last week on how those repairs can be improved and ways to establish the strongest possible bond.

    His presentation, “Understanding and Controlling the Bond Surface in Manufacturing for Reliable Adhesive Bonding” delved into surface characteristics, the importance of controlling the bond surface, and characteristics of the surface that can be manipulated to form stronger bonds. …Read More

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  • Teflon is a household name that commonly invokes images of eggs sizzling on a skillet, spatulas flipping pancakes, or rice steaming in a pan.

    But, there is much more to this magical non-stick coating.

    Teflon, a brand name for PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), prohibits food from sticking to pots and pans because of its hydrophobic properties.

    As a low-energy, fluorocarbon solid neither water nor water containing substances can influence the surface. This means that nothing will stick to the surface or penetrate it.

    Today, Teflon has improved culinary pursuits and made cooking more accessible, but that isn’t the only field PTFE has influenced.

    The medical device industry would not be what it is today without PTFE. As medical devices work intimately with the human body, they must be completely sanitary, inert, and harmless.

    With its lubriciousness and impenetrable properties, PTFE is used to coat a variety of medical devices such as catheters, surgical equipment, balloons, bladders, and implants.

    But, PTFE only works when the coating itself sticks to the surface. This requires proper surface preparation which can be challenging in any manufacturing floor. It’s especially difficult in medical device manufacturing as specifications are so high and there is no room for failure.    …Read More

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  • Tales from the M&P Lab

    by Emily Walsh July 2017

    In the BTG Labs’ Materials and Processing laboratory, magic happens. Or, at least it seems that way. In the BTG Lab our specialists see the unseen. They reveal the invisible.

    We’re talking about invisible surface chemistry, of course.

    “Usually, the customer knows there’s something wrong with the surface, but they don’t know what,” says M&P Engineer and R&D Chemist Brooke Campbell. She and Elizabeth Kidd, our R&D Chemist and custom application scientist combine their analytical expertise with the instruments in our highly sophisticated lab; they evaluate, characterize, and optimize critical surface processes for industries from consumer goods, medical device, aerospace, and everything in between.

    Using highly advanced instruments such as the XPS (X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy), FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy), Instron, goniometer, and of course, the Surface Analyst, the lab performed various tests to evaluate the surface. They then characterize the issue. This usually entails identifying a contamination or an issue with surface preparation. Lastly, they deduce an answer.

    In some instances, Brooke explains, the customer has implemented an instrument in their manufacturing processes. All is well until they come across a batch that is out of spec. They know there isn’t a problem with the instrument, but that’s it. So, their puzzle makes its way to the M&P lab for investigation. …Read More

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  • BTG Labs’ Surface Analyst is more than just a fast, easy, accurate, hand-held, non-destructive, objective surface cleanliness gauge. It encompasses features to personalize your application for measuring on different parts and for different purposes.

    Because we work in highly diverse industries with countless applications from bonded nut plates on fighter jets to printed labels on packaging to hydrophilic coating on medical tubing our instrument is built to personalize your application.

    The Surface Analyst features include charting results and statistics capabilities; modifiable material profiles for any application; auto drop detect for faster in-line operation; and adjustable drop size for easy measurements on any surface. These and other features of the Surface Analyst allow a manufacturer to personalize and optimize their surface critical processes.

    Check out this list of some features you might not be using, but you should. …Read More

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  • Dr. Carlos Barrios, a colleague of mine from 3M St. Paul, asked over dinner at the last meeting of the Adhesion Society if I would like to take part in teaching a week-long course in polymers at the leading university in Colombia.

    The course took place at Universidad Nacional in Bogota, Colombia. About 50 engineering students and several professional engineers from the community attended.

    I taught the course in conjunction with Carlos and Omar Arias (Manager of Technical Service for 3M in Latin America).

    We split the course into three segments: I taught “Fundamentals of Surface Energy and Adhesion”; Carlos taught “Recent Advances in the Science of Pressure Sensitive Adhesives”; and Omar taught “3M Solutions through High Performance Pressure Sensitive Adhesives”.

    My segment of the class included hands-on experiments that demonstrated the relationships between surface energy and peel strength of pressure sensitive adhesives.

    The students were incredibly engaged; as a result, the class lasted for almost 11 hours. The questions were technically very advanced and indicated a wonderful level of interest.

    Bogota was a wonderful experience in itself.  Founded by the Spanish Conquistadores in 1538, the old part of the city looks and feels like a medieval Spanish city. …Read More

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  • Thanks to advancements in powertrain manufacturing, sealing processes have improved assembly efficiency. Formed-in-place gaskets (FIPG) are replacing traditional mechanical fasteners as they are more cost effective, stronger, and easier to apply. However, adhesive bonding rather than mechanically fastening presents different challenges and requires new protocols.

    Lead Sales Engineer Lucas Dillingham has presented “Defining Cleanliness in Powertrain Manufacturing for FIPG Applications,” at several events and automotive factories. BTG Labs works with numerous automotive manufacturers on surface chemical cleanliness and what it means for assembly.

    Traditional millipore tests reveal particulate contamination, but on a sealing surface, one must detect chemical contamination. To adhere successfully, surface cleanliness on a chemical level is vital.

    A byproduct of automotive manufacturing processes is contaminants that are detrimental to adhesion. Processes entailing unwanted contaminants include:

    • Die-casting
    • Machining
    • Washing
    • Assembly

    …Read More

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