| 2 min read

Surface Stories: It's All a Matter of Grit

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.

This particular customer used a silicone barrier mold release during their composite manufacturing process. The problem here was not the release of the mold, as is sometimes the case in composite component manufacturing.

Rather, the composite part was being abraded using a stearate-free sandpaper after the mold-release to remove residual silicone on the composite. On the surface, this would seem like a beneficial step but--no so fast.

Downline in production, the failure rate in bonding these presumed-to-be prepared pieces was exceeding acceptable SRR (rework) time, resulting in a loss of productivity in manufacturing.

So, what was going on in the process that was resulting in failure, despite the materials being abraded after mold-release? That’s where the Surface Analyst and our lab team came in.


Our Materials & Process team here at BTG Labs got down to business discovering the inner workings of the customer’s surface preparation processes. So, when it came to performing the material system analysis using thorough and objective research, what did they conclude?



Using the data gained from research performed in the lab on their material system, the customer realized that the amount of abrasion taking place was simply not adequate to maximize bond strength.

Furthermore, the customer had been leaving out a crucial step in the composite surface preparation process, which determined the effectiveness of any level of abrasion, in general.

New light was shined on an assumed-to-be adequate process, and by switching to a rougher grit sandpaper, it was determined using the Surface Analyst that the optimal contact angle could finally be achieved. The research also allowed the customer to avoid over-processing, and tailor their process to achieve the exact measurement range to produce high-quality, and lasting composite bonds.

After using the Surface Analyst along with research done in the lab, the customer was able to gain valuable business insight into their process with measured and strategic changes.


Want to know how this story ends?

Look for the follow-up post containing the results of this Surface Story in the near future!

For relevant content related to your own industry application, visit the Technical Resources section of our site and if you don’t see yours, feel free to Contact Us to request more information, using the form at the bottom of this page.