News + Science from the Engineers of the Surface Analyst

  • Incoming! What’s that sound?

    That’s the sound of manufacturers not having a supplier specification created for incoming materials in their operation.

    It’s like the old piece of wisdom: You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you came from.

    While we’re not exactly sure who said it, it applies exactly to what’s needed when it comes to covering your bases from an incoming materials standpoint.

    …Read More

  • When most of us think of gold, we think of watches, rings, necklaces and even teeth.

    For electronics manufacturer’s, gold is one of the highest quality and most electrically conductive materials used in electrical component manufacturing.

    In order to best perform its golden duty as a conductor of electricity, the thin wire must make intimate contact with the circuit board itself. Without this connection, failure is inevitable.

    A recent customer and manufacturer of microelectronic components needed a way to guarantee that the bonds created between the gold wire they were using in their microprocessors was maximally bonded to the gold-plated palladium bond pad. Were they able to achieve this?

    …Read More

  • “We’re manufacturing catheters, but currently we don’t have a reliable way to verify that our plasma treatment prior to coating is as effective as it could be.”

    It should be no surprise that manufacturing in the medical device world carries with it a unique level of responsibility, as the final products directly affect the health and safety of the end user.

    The comfort and safety of patients is directly related to the quality of products that come out of medical manufacturing operations. The FDA mandates these manufacturers to meet strict validation standards in order to sell their products.

    So, when a manufacturer’s only option, until recently, is assuming their pre-adhesion processing was adequate, the outlook is cloudy, at best. There was a problem that needed to be solved to bring quality testing to life.

    …Read More



    At the end of this month, an opportunity that comes only once a year will be coming to the AeroDef Manufacturing Conference, March 26-29 in Huntington, CA.

    What opportunity are we talking about?

    None other than seeing Giles Dillingham, our CTO & Chief Scientist here at BTG Labs speak on Quality and Consistency of Plasma Treatment on Composites.

    So, who’s going to AeroDef?

    Use this link to register for the seminar to receive a free exhibits-only pass and save 10% on conference registration!

    Also, be sure to stop by the BTG Labs’ and Abaris Booth #640 to meet the BTG Labs team and see live demonstrations of the Surface Analyst.

    We look forward to seeing you there!



    The quality of a process should be left up to chance.

    This is commonly the approach that has been taken by manufacturers when working to control their adhesion preparation processes. However, this is due to no fault of their own.

    In the past, the approach to gaining this understanding was largely, up in the air, but we’re here to finally bring the clarity and focus that manufacturers have been searching for.

    Our customer in this Surface Story, who similar to our last story also happens to be from the aerospace industry, gained exactly that: focus and clarity around their pre-adhesion processing.

    …Read More

  • When it comes to preparing raw materials for adhesion in manufacturing, optimizing the level of surface preparation is directly related to achieving the highest quality final product.

    Under-preparing a surface, or over-preparing a surface both mean sub-par adhesion when it comes time to bond, coat, print, seal or paint.

    The first story in our new series, Surface Stories, pertains to over-processing, when a recent customer in the aerospace industry was sure they were helping to make their aluminum surface “cleaner.” The Surface Analyst, however, showed otherwise.

    …Read More

  • 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 water 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