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Building Smarter with the Surface Analyst

Roosevelt University, a liberal arts college in the Loop of downtown Chicago perfectly contrasts antiquated and contemporary architecture. Roosevelt’s first venue, constructed in 1889 just in time for the World Fair, is 17 floors of beautiful Art Nouveau structure. The Auditorium Building encompasses ornate railings and scaffolding, topping off with a regal library and a lofty tower overlooking Grant Park. However, because of its age, the Auditorium Building demands constant attention and is inefficient in the frigid Chicago winters and hazy summers.

Their new building, the Wabash Building, erected in 2012 is just the opposite. Its 32 towering floors of curved glass superintends the Auditorium Building, arriving amongst the structural giants of Chicago. Illustrating the epitome of modern design, this highly efficient, state of the art structure is LEED certified.

When looking up at the two buildings, old charm vs new-age sleek, the phrase comes to mind: they just don’t make things like they used to. But, there’s necessity behind this. As the global population rises, infrastructure becomes denser, and resources become scarce, engineers concentrate on building smarter. Designing a building that spares no expense—in terms of efficiency in operation and manufacturing of these smarter materials—is pivotal. This all begins in the research and development lab and extends to the manufacturing floor. Materials and processes are developed to allow for more efficiency in both the production of materials and the final construction. Guaranteeing bonds will hold; paint, print, and coatings will stick; seals will persevere; and cleaning processes will clean effectively is crucial to manufacturing a product that will withstand stresses of any structure.

That is why more and more manufacturers are turning to the Surface Analyst™. This hand-held instrument ensures any surface is ready for effective bonding, coating, cleaning, sealing, printing, or painting. The ability to verify and quantify critical surface processes on the manufacturing floor is the keystone to efficient manufacturing and smarter structures.

A high-grade window manufacturer, for example, uses the Surface Analyst to verify plasma treatment on vinyl window frames prior to sealing. This guarantees the windows will efficiently heat or cool a structure while also withstanding the elements of rain, wind, and snow.

Solar panel manufacturers turn to the Surface Analyst to ensure bonding of dissimilar materials will hold so that their panels deliver to customers reliably and flawlessly.


Figure 1. Contact angle measurements taken on glass post treatment.


A high-end structural glass manufacturer uses the Surface Analyst to develop and apply corrosion proof coatings. They have learned that over time, glass corrodes and degrades, compromising its integrity. The manufacturer first learned about this degradation through contact angle measurements with the Surface Analyst. As seen in Figure 1, over just a period of seven days, in constant conditions, the surface energy of the glass surface lowers, creating a less than ideal surface for corrosion-proof coating. Now, using water contact angle measurements taken with the Surface Analyst, the structural glass manufacturer can manage the surface processes of the glass and know the ideal time when the surface can be coated reliably and uniformly.

The Surface Analyst lends its insight to flooring manufacturing. Technicians optimize flame treatment on vinyl, tile, and fiber board after flame treatment. This guarantees their floor can tolerate the impact a floor experiences.

This is an innovative time in structural manufacturing. Structures must be built efficiently to conserve on both space and energy. Thus, there is no room for failure, no room for leaky window frames, broken solar panels, or corroded glass. The Surface Analyst gives manufactures the ability to see the unseen—the invisible surface energy of their surface—to  manufacture failure proof, resilient, state-of-the-art designs. The Surface Analyst contributes to building smarter structures by lending the knowledge to manufactures to guarantee their bonding, coating, cleaning, printing, painting, and sealing.