| 2 min read

Surface Stories: How one company used real-time data with RS-232 to eliminate adhesion failures

Real-time data.

New industry buzzword?

Or a new generation of process and quality control?

In this Surface Story, we learn how one manufacturer simultaneously protected their entire business from serious risk, while leading the way for real-time collection of materials and process quality data.

All the while, it was done using an long-existing, and highly trusted standard connection protocol widely used and accepted in its respective industries.

Let’s envision something here.

You’re manufacturing an automotive electronic steering system that may one day form the basis for transporting humans in autonomous vehicles.

It’s been said before that, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Power? Electricity? There may be a pun in there somewhere.


The Material & Process

Cast aluminum housing encases the absolutely critical component for preventing failure in the system--the printed circuit board (PCB).

Using FIPG (formed in-place gasket) paired with plasma treatment, the two-pieces of the housing guarantee the proper functioning of the circuit board by ensuring no water or debris enters the enclosed environment through the bond line.


The Problem

If the bond fails, the circuit board becomes compromised.

Remember, this is a steering system for a vehicle traveling on public roads at high speeds.

Aside from the obvious, how does a manufacturer prove to regulators and customers the safety of their process in a highly critical bonding operation?


The Business Implications

Prior to the working with BTG Labs, efforts to quantify and obtain an accurate and subjective measurement of surface quality prior to adhesion were ineffective.

Given the often narrow metal surfaces of the components they were manufacturing, precision was also a major factor in being able to obtain useful data.

The ability to maximize and demonstrate the effectiveness of the plasma treatment being used to promote adhesion would mean piece of mind on multiple fronts: quality, regulatory, and legal.


The Organizational Implications

Setting a proven baseline for quality of the aluminum surface prior to adhesion meant that there was a clear understanding of the optimal amount of plasma treatment to use before applying the FIPG adhesive to the aluminum housing rim surface.

This new spec essentially eliminated any interdepartmental tension or confusion regarding the reasons why adhesion was failing.

Furthermore, technicians were able to become more effective in their job duties, because target specifications were clearly defined.


The Solution

The Surface Analyst was able to provide fast, easy, accurate, and non-destructive surface data that gave insights into the quality of their plasma treating process, on actual parts coming down the assembly line.

Using a USB-to-RS232 connection in combination with a long tether, the customer was able to stream real-time data to plant and quality managers to alert when tolerances were exceeded in the process.

The ability to know in an instant when a surface-critical process falls outside of an acceptable range?

Real-time data, applied to surface quality.

Want to learn more about how BTG Labs can revolutionize your manufacturing operation? Download our eBook about how we approach solving complex manufacturing issues with comprehensive analysis of critical surfaces and consultation to arrive at custom designed solutions for every client. Download BTG Labs' Guide to Adhesion Science for Flawless Manufacturing.