Category Archives: Materials Science

  • For the past five years BTG Labs has been a major presence at the annual meeting of the Adhesion Society. This year we are heading to Hilton Head, SC Friday 2/15 – Tuesday 2/19, to share our insight into how adhesion success begins and ends at the surface of materials used in bonding.

    BTG Labs’ CEO and Chief Scientist, Dr. Giles Dillingham, has been an active member of the Adhesion Society since the 1980’s and is a Robert L. Patrick Fellow of the Society. He has over 120 publications and patents and is teaching two sessions at this year’s Short Course as well as presenting at the conference during the Society Meeting.

    Dr. Dillingham’s first education course on Friday will examine the basic principles of adhesion and surface chemistry: how they are inextricably codependent and what the nature of their relationship is. The concepts he’ll be discussing is the science at the heart of all the work BTG Labs does. It’s this foundation that has allowed us to build an extensive customer base within a wide range of industries to develop and enhance manufacturing processes.

    The next course Dr. Dillingham will be leading takes the fundamentals of the first course and expands on them by exploring how to analyze and control the chemical makeup of a surface. The understanding that comes from the surface analysis allows for the proper control of the surface chemistry which, in turn, makes it possible to reliably predict adhesion success. This correlation between chemistry and adhesion is the fuel that powers BTG Labs’ technology.

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  • Corona treatment is one of the most commonly used methods in adhesion processes for preparing materials like film and polymers manufactured on large rolls. Corona treatment is used to activate the surface, or create a molecularly amenable condition on the surface for adhesion, of a rolled material requiring coating, printing, laminating or painting.

    The treatment works by discharging high-voltage, high-frequency electricity from an electrode in a ceramic tube that runs the length of the roll of material needed to be activated. The electricity is sent through the material to an electrically-grounded, metal roll called the treater roll, that the material is wrapped around. This interaction between the electrode and the metal roll creates a visible flash on the surface of the material roll as it moves between the two components. The results, however, are completely invisible to the human eye. Like was stated earlier, this treatment is altering the surface at a chemical level. Therefore, there is no visual test that could ever offer confidence that the treatment was successful at creating a chemically clean surface. Only a measurable, quantitative inspection gives the data necessary to take action on.

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  • It’s easy to be dazzled by the advancements in electronic and medical devices that are constantly being made and discovered allowing manufacturers to work on increasingly micro levels. Smaller tech means greater efficiency and higher production rates which can lead to lower prices and more accessibility. Tiny tech means less intrusion when incorporating electronics in everyday devices

    manufacture of chips on a silicon wafer under a microscope

    and medical applications. But we mustn’t let ourselves get distracted by all this progress. The surfaces of the electronic components of this incredible tech need to be clean at a chemical level in order to ensure that any bonding processes will be successful. It’s as true for these devices as for any others.

    Electronics packaging, even at the micro and nano level, requires wire bonding processes and coating operations that involve smaller versions of the methods used on a larger scale. When working at such tiny levels the importance of how molecular level surface activity influences bond success and true chemical cleanliness becomes all the more evident.

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  • The BTG Labs suite of tools, that enable manufacturers and technicians to fully control their adhesion processes, has a new addition. The Surface Analyst 2001 introduces new levels of ease, simplicity and accuracy to manufacturing processes, providing the confidence that the surface will stick.

    This handheld tool is an entry-level surface inspection device that harnesses the power of the BTG Labs’ technology to precisely meet the needs of any manufacturing plant floor, field service troubleshooting, or processes that include heavily repeated surface preparation and inspection steps. The 2001 is built to be used in any environment and is sturdy enough to take accurate measurements under any circumstances.

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  • Photo courtesy of Crest Ultrasonics

    Parts washers are the heavy-duty, hardworking machines that have become irreplaceable staples in any automotive or machined part manufacturing process. As manufacturing processes have become more sophisticated, the industries using parts washers includes not only industrial metals and aerospace materials but also more delicate applications such as medical implants and electronic devices.

    But what are the Critical Control Points within a parts washer system? What are the elements that get overlooked and result in adhesion failure even though the parts SEEM clean?

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  • Co-written with Elizabeth Kidd, BTG Labs’ Custom Applications Scientist.

     

    There’s a logical fallacy akin to a “what’s good for one is good for all” mindset that is devastating when applied to surface treatment in adhesion processes. Polymers are rapidly being developed and synthesized for niche applications to push the limits of current physical properties of materials. Polymers that are available today did not even exist a few years, or even months, ago. These different materials possess very particular molecular qualities that require distinct treatment approaches in order to compensate for their differences.

     New polymer materials enhance the aesthetics and safety of cars.

    In order to utilize these cutting-edge plastic technologies, manufacturers need to be aware of the effect on the full material system – the baseline material, the adhesion, and outcome of bond performance.

    Diversified polymer use has seen huge advances in consumer goods industries

    The chemical make-up of the baseline material surface is where it all begins and controlling this aspect of the process can stop adhesion failure at the source. This is, however, often the most overlooked and least understood component of successful adhesion.

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  • The pervasiveness of electronics in every manufacturing industry has provided unique challenges. Manufacturers are tasked with protecting these components

    conformal coating adhesion for electronics

    A populated printed circuit board before a conformal coating has been applied.

    in environments that make

    electronics vulnerable to even minute amounts of moisture, debris and environmental contamination.

    A useful solution to this problem is conformal coating. Conformal coating is a thin (usually 25-75µm thick) chemical or polymer film (parylene and acrylic are popularly used, depending on the application) that covers an electronic component to act as a barrier against contamination and a defense against moisture. While, this capability massively enhances the protection of, and therefore the reliability of, electronics, manufacturers have been overlooking a key element to dependability in this system: surface condition.

    Here are four major factors that could lead to poor adhesion which manufacturers are often unaware of the impact they have:

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  • click here to view plasma treatment webinarPlastics are ubiquitous a material as they come, and there is nary an industry that does not utilize them in an adhesion application; medical device, automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, and flexible film and packaging industries all exploit the versatility of polymers in manufacturing. Take a closer look at medical device and automotive industries and you’ll find that the same polypropylene used to make car bumpers in the automotive is also used to make life-saving implantable medical devices.

    Polymers are generally chemically stable materials. While this is a desirable quality for other purposes, it is the industry’s greatest challenge to overcome for adhesion applications (coating, bonding, printing, priming and painting). In order for these materials to adhere successfully they have to undergo some type of surface activation process, like plasma treatment. This process will impart chemically reactive groups on the surface and increase chemical reactivity. This reactivity is a quantifiable material property called surface energy. Plasma treatment is a convenient, cost effective means of achieving surface activation of polymers. Before the plasma treatment can accomplish the proper activation of the surface, the chemistry of the polymer must be considered.

    This week BTG Labs and Plasmatreat got together to co-present a webinar that de-mystifies plasma treatment as it relates to polymer chemistry.

    Understanding surface state at each manufacturing step will allow you to gain complete control over your surface treatment and bonding operation. Here at BTG Labs, we provide a process control check that quantifies that surface state with a simple number.

    Control the process, control the number, control the product.

    Visit our video gallery to view the webinar and use the form at the bottom of this page to contact a BTG Labs process engineer, who can give you remarkable insight into your adhesion process.

  • Surface Activation with plasma treatment

    This Tuesday, December 11 at 2pm EST we’ll be partnering with Plasmatreat, a developer of surface treatment systems, to present a webinar hosted by Plastics Technology magazine. Dr. Giles Dillingham, BTG Labs’ CEO and Chief Scientist, and Khoren Sahagian, Chief Process Engineer and Applications Manager to Plasmatreat USA, will discuss the relationship between polymer chemistry and the development of optimal plasma treatment recipes. Plasma treatment is the cutting-edge surface processing technique of polymers for critical adhesion applications. It is increasingly crucial to know how to control this process, know how the chemistry of your surface will affect the treatment and know your target number before and after treatment. Click on the title below to register:

     

    How to Develop and Quantitatively Control Plasma Treatment Processes for Polymers

     

    Here’s what you can expect to learn:

    1. Basic understanding of parameters that affect plasma treatment of polymers
    2. Knowledge of the effects of plasma treatment on polymer surface
    3. Basic skills in developing and evaluating plasma treatment processes
    4. Tools for controlling plasma treatment processes, in the lab and manufacturing

    If you have any questions about surface treatment and unforeseen contaminants that may be interfering with your adhesion process, bring them to the webinar for the Q&A at the end. You can also contact us using the form below and ask about scheduling your free process walk to discover your Critical Control Points and gain total surface quality control.

  • When a material begins its journey through a manufacturing process it becomes crucial to know and control everything that happens to that material as it makes its way down the line. There are two major factors to consider when understanding and controlling what happens to the surface of that material: the actual physical space of the warehouse and the time it takes to get through the entire process of being bonded, coated, painted, sealed, glued or printed. If you don’t know precisely what is occurring at each Critical Control Point and you don’t continually monitor the surface throughout the duration of the process, you could be trending towards adhesion failure and not even know it.

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