Tag Archives: BTG Labs

  • 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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  • 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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  • Home exhibiting Tesla solar roof. Image by Tesla.

    Last month, Elon Musk announced the availability of Tesla’s new solar roof. These solar roofs are made to masquerade as tasteful, modern shingles; their attractive panels offer roofs from sleek modern to French slate. The solar panels are hidden in a pane of glass which contains a hydrographic coloring–a process that uses water to apply printed designs– to provide texture.

    But, these shingles must not only look good, like all solar panels, they must be tough enough to withstand elemental threats.

    Wind, rain, snow, sun, extreme temperatures–these are all stresses to any structure, especially solar panels. Because solar panels serve as an energy source, there is no room for failure in the field. The bonds that keep them together such as bonds between dissimilar materials, bonds on low energy polymers, coatings, laminates, and seals, must withstand the stresses as well. That’s why solar panel manufacturers turn to the Surface Analyst.

    …Read More

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  • Plastics manufacturers are all too familiar with the challenges of bonding thermoplastics. Last week, BTG Labs successfully hosted a webinar with Plastics Technology to discuss improving bonding of thermoplastics. The webinar, entitled “Understanding Surface Energy: How to Measure and Control the Surface Properties of Thermoplastics to Maximize Adhesion,” brought in almost 400 registrants.

    Presented byBTG Labs’ Chief Scientist Dr. Giles Dillingham who discussed the surface characteristics of thermoplastics. Dr. Dillingham also explored surface treatment processes such as flame, corona, and plasma, and ways to monitor and verify those processes. The ability to understand and measure the surface precisely is the key to successfully bonding thermoplastics.

    This table shows the relationship between low surface energy and relative interfacial toughness. While thermoplastics are highly durable, they cause difficulties in bonding because of their low surface energy.

    …Read More

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  • SAMPE is the “Society of Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering,” and annually they host a conference and exhibit hall where Scientists and Engineers gather to learn about the past year’s manufacturing advancements. Giles Dillingham, our Chief Scientist and CEO, has been a member for 15 years, and BTG Labs has presented many different technical papers and research projects at this conference. This was my second time attending this conference, after last year in Long Beach.

    While SAMPE targets the advancement of all materials and processes, composites—namely carbon fiber—dominate the show. Many exhibitors manufacture woven carbon fiber materials that will be turned into aircraft structures or interiors. Other vendors supply OEM aircraft manufacturers and tier 1 suppliers, specific parts that will be installed directly onto final products.

    Some examples include specialized composite tubing and fluid tanks for waste and water storage. I also saw: tooling manufacturers, adhesive and tape suppliers, software companies, testing labs, autoclave/oven vendors (one was giving virtual reality tours of their equipment!), and material processing equipment. This included 4 plasma treatment companies. The most we have seen at SAMPE to date. …Read More

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  • Every plastics manufacturer knows that bonding low energy thermoplastics can be challenging. In the upcoming webinar hosted by Plastics Technology, BTG Labs’ Chief Scientist Dr. Giles Dillingham will discuss practical ways to improve bonding of thermoplastics more reliably and efficiently.

    Dr. Dillingham will discuss the nature of thermoplastic surfaces and how the manipulation of various surface treatment processes—flame, corona, and plasma—make or break a surface. The webinar will discuss how the Surface Analyst uses water contact angle measurements to lend imperative insight into surface energy and in turn, hone in on the necessary treatment level for a higher quality, more consistent manufacturing process. After all, the most expensive surface treatment is nothing without an in-place monitoring process. …Read More

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  • In the fast-paced automotive industry, manufacturers are constantly working to engineer stronger and more innovative vehicles. Emissions regulations call for more light weight, fuel efficient vehicles. As a result, manufacturers require a way to build an automobile that has it all: strength, efficiency, and light weight.

    Manufacturers are looking to the new world of ligthweighting; this method cuts down on weight and material without sacrificing the integrity of the automobile. June 8 at 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM ET, BTG Labs will host a webinar along with Industrial Market Insight, a strategic marketing consultant, and Plasmatreat, a BTG Labs partner specializing in highly efficient surface treatment.

    Entitled, “Surface Engineering for Successful Joining of Dissimilar Materials in Advanced Lightweight Automotive Structures,” this webinar explores the necessary aspects of successful ligthweighting. Topics include bonding of dissimilar materials, optimizing surface treatments, and creating new ways to bond. In an effort to reduce weight, traditional mechanical fasteners are replaced by bonded adhesives.  Controlling and understanding the surface is the key to a successful bond. …Read More

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  • Every year for Memorial Day weekend, my family would pack up the station wagon and head to the lake. The weekend would be filled with red, white and blue, firing grills, festive picnic tables, and bathing suits. My mother would chide me to apply sunscreen before doing anything. And time after time, I would jump in the pool first. The sun screen could wait. I had been pining all winter for the water and some smelly, greasy paste wasn’t going to stop me.

    And then I would fry.

    I’ve since learned to appreciate the importance of sunscreen, but perhaps that is because it is much better than when I was younger. It’s less greasy and smelly, can withstand sweat and water, and better absorbs into the skin—thankfully preventing that touristy semblance.

    Skin care manufacturers work constantly to improve their brand. With a product that works so intimately with the human body and at times for important applications such as UV protection, failures are not acceptable. Yet, developing skin care products comes with challenges. Testing on artificial skin falls short of the real thing as skin types vary greatly. However, in-vivo testing is nearly impossible. …Read More

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