The history of BTG Labs is rooted in adhesion research. Originally a development lab, BTG Labs specialized in plasma polymerized coatings. The engineers worked with coatings containing corrosion resistant and anti-microbial properties. BTG Labs worked to improve adhesives and surface treatment processes. This brought about the Surface Analyst and today, BTG Labs still utilizes its twenty plus years of Materials Science expertise to assist manufacturers in understanding how the Surface Analyst fits into their production process and how their surfaces affect the overall manufacturing processes.
As an innovative and investigative materials science company, BTG Labs boasts a highly sophisticated lab with several analytical instruments. BTG Labs not only produces the ideal surface measurement device, but it can help develop surface preparation processes, trouble shoot existing surface sensitive processes, and diagnose surface chemistries.
Knowing Your Surface
Surface chemistry directly relates to surface energy and can predict a surface’s ability to maintain a bond. Thus, when developing or remodeling surface processes, knowing the chemistry of one’s surface is a good starting point. Our X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer (XPS) uses X-Rays in an ultra-high vacuum system to provide elemental information of specific surface chemistry. Sensitive to the top two molecular layers of a surface, the XPS reveals to the customer exactly what is on the surface of their product.
The Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), another powerful technique utilized for surface analysis, uses infrared light to detect the presence of functional groups on the surface of your material. It is also capable of coating characterization (i.e. liquid films, contaminant residue, coupling agents etc.). With specular reflectance, attenuated total reflectance (ATR), transmission, and diffuse reflectance accessories, BTG Labs is equipped to analyze a vast array of materials and surfaces.
Finding the Edge
Once the chemical species on a surface have been identified, the next step is to correlate surface chemistry to bond ability. In an ideal situation, manufacturing floors would be free of contamination. However, this “ideal” does not exist. A more realistic approach is to identify possible contaminants and define a threshold for the amount a bond can endure. With our custom made contamination apparatus, BTG Labs can apply controlled amounts of contaminant onto a surface. These contaminated surfaces can then be characterized with the Surface Analyst, FTIR, or XPS, bonded and used for mechanical testing in our Instron for push-off, lap shear, or fracture toughness tests.
Furthermore, it is equally important to understand how cleaning procedures affect surface chemistry; operator techniques and various cleaning media affect surfaces in different ways. Years of materials science experience allows BTG Labs to provide customers with the best surface preparation process for their application. In-house cleaning capabilities include solvent cleaning, sanding, grit blasting and atmospheric plasma treatment.
Using the Surface Analyst, BTG Labs can deduce the amount of cleaning required to achieve the desired surface energy. Furthermore, BTG Labs can quantify the amount of contaminant a bond line can endure. The Surface Analyst provides a fast, easy and non-destructive means of surface characterization before bonding, coating, priming, and painting: a 2 second quality assurance check to increase bond reliability.
Developing the Ideal Surface Preparation Process
The contamination apparatus applies a controlled amount of contamination to a surface. BTG Labs can then examine the surface in the XPS or FTIR and tested in the Instron or plasma treated. These processes help to develop a surface treatment process from the first steps to the last by identifying surface chemistry, identifying and dissecting contaminants, testing those contaminants mechanically, treating a surface, and using the Surface Analyst to compile the appropriate surface preparation process for the desired application.