Posts by Lucas Dillingham
The Aerodef Manufacturing conference was held last week in Ft. Worth Texas. This event is a smaller regional manufacturing show focusing on aerospace and defense industries. The show typically features technical papers on a variety of topics, a small trade show floor, and a few receptions to allow for networking and socialization.
This year BTG Labs presented a paper on surface controls in manufacturing. Our marketing partner Abaris Training Services, kindly shared their booth with us. During the show, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of current and potential customers, discussing ways to validate surface prep, cleaning, and surface condition. Since my interests cover all surface material related topics, there is always a lot to discuss! …Read More
Building a More Fuel-Efficient Automobile
The pursuit to produce a more fuel-efficient automobile does not rely solely on the efficiency of the engine. A great amount of fuel efficiency gains are possible not because of improvements to engine design, but because of improvements in materials. This is an obvious thing to say, but by creating a lighter body, an engine does not require as much energy to move a vehicle forward. Car manufacturers have looked to the aerospace industry for inspiration, and much like modern fighter jets, have settled on the use of composite materials in car frames and interiors to reduce weight.
As the use of composite materials continues to grow– and even become integrated into more critical parts such as automobile frames–the issue of safety becomes more important. Due to the structure of composite materials, mechanical fasteners sacrifice compatibility. The strength of composite materials dwindles when fibers break due to holes used for fasteners. Rather than using mechanical fasteners, adhesives replace fasteners to bond these composite materials to the frame. These bonds are strong enough to withstand the stresses of a wreck. This allows composite material utilization on critical components of the car frame. That is, of course, assuming the strength of the bond remains consistent – and that is where matters become complicated.
conPolymers are some of the most common base materials used in automotive parts. Polypropelenes, Polyolefins, and ABS plastics are used in dashboards, door panels, bumper fascias, liftgates, sensors, and increasingly exterior doors and fenders. A polymer is a low surface energy material that typically needs some form of surface processing prior to bonding an assembly, encapsulating a sensor, painting an interior control knob or an exterior bumper fascia. These materials also tend to show high contamination with mold releases that can be tough to remove and will essentially guarantee unsuccessful adhesion or coating.
There are a variety of surface processing methods used in the industry to help remove contamination and increase the surface energy of these polymer materials. These processes include flame treatment, plasma treatment, corona treatment, and solvent wiping. Another option is to utilize specialty paints and adhesives that tolerate lower energy substrates. There are pitfalls, however, to implementing any of these methods that manufacturers need to be aware of. Understanding the nature of these surface-critical systems is the only way to guarantee success in the final result. Control of the inputs means predictability and control of the output.
Higher Performance Materials Call for Higher Demand of Quality
In the automotive industry, there is a constant focus on higher performance materials that provide more with less — better strength, better fuel economy, and better durability at the expense of weight and cost.
What manufacturers once produced in steel and iron they now make in aluminum. Furthermore, manufacturers are increasingly replacing aluminum with composite. Whether it is a car roof, hood, trunk lid, intake manifold, or dashboard, automotive manufacturers are pushing the boundaries of what they thought was possible for material performance.
New materials require new coatings, new adhesives, and new paints. And all of these require new process solutions to guarantee an ever-increasing demand of quality.
A major challenge has been the need to shift to a higher performance material that requires bonding, coating, sealing, painting, or printing. These materials often have more stringent processing specifications to get similar adhesive performance. …Read More
Controlling Surface Condition in FIPG Application
Increasingly, FIPG processes are replacing traditional gaskets for a variety of automotive applications such as air filters, oil filters, door panels, and external engine parts. The advantages include cheaper material cost, higher throughput capability, ability for assembly at the supplier, and greater control over sealing processes. These advantages, however, come with processing challenges that the manufacturer must take into account; namely the surface of the part they are sealing.
Within the automotive industry, a common FIPG application is RTV (room-temperature-vulcanization). Defining and controlling surface condition prior to applying an RTV silicone sealant is critical for a successful seal. Variables such as inadequate cleaning, over-used washing fluid, excess oil contamination, and poor handling can wreak havoc on an RTV application process. This can lead to rework, customer complaints, and warranty claims after the customer purchases the product. So how does an OEM or supplier design and control an appropriate FIPG process that will be successful?