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Optimizing your Metal Performance with the Surface Analyst

Manufacturers working with metal and worrying about metal performance are all too familiar with the obstacles that come along with coating, painting, bonding, printing, or sealing it. While the uses of metal in manufacturing are countless and exist in numerous industries, the common denominator is ensuring the appropriate surface cleanliness prior to surface critical processes to guarantee successful adhesion. Common surface cleanliness gauges—dyne inks and water break—are subjective and do not offer quantitative results. Water break can be messy and time consuming and dyne is destructive to the part and dangerous to the user. While these methods can offer some insight into surface cleanliness, they are less than ideal.

BTG Labs Surface Analyst is a fast, easy, accurate, and non-destructive surface cleanliness gauge that tells the user right on the manufacturing floor how prepared the surface is to bond. This hand-held instrument improves surface processes and guarantees a bond will stick. Numerous manufacturers in industries such as consumer goods, automotive, and aerospace, have implemented the Surface Analyst in their specifications to improve their critical metal surface processes.

Surface Analyst Metal Application Examples

The Surface Analyst improves metal performance by verifying and monitoring surface treatment and measuring surface cleanliness throughout each step in the manufacturing process to optimize and improve typical metal applications:

  • Thermal Spray
  • Brazing
  • Welding
  • Painting
  • Printing
  • Bonding
  • Coating
  • Sealing
  • Cleaning
  • Metallization
  • Machining


  • Steel
  • Steel Stainless
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium

Monitor Preparation Processes

  • Solvent Wiping
  • Sanding
  • Parts Washers
  • Grit-Blasting

Validate Surface Activation Treatments

Application Story

In the fast-paced automotive industry, competition is hot and manufacturers work intensively to create more efficient, reliable vehicles. When the race is head to head, there is no room for failures. Finding ways to avoid failures and produce a more reliable vehicle, provides a competitive edge. New technologies such as FIPG (formed in-place gaskets) which contribute to a more efficient, reliable system, can provide that needed edge. As a replacement of traditional gaskets such as cork and rubber, FIPG sealant is stronger and more reliable. An adhesive applied directly on the floor, FIPG increases efficiency and cuts down on waste. The adhesive also makes a stronger seal than traditional gaskets and can tolerate more wear so failure rates decline significantly. However, with this new technology, comes new specifications and assembly processes.

The integrity of FIPG relies on the surface cleanliness of the part prior to sealing. The part’s surface must be clean and clear of contaminants to maintain a strong seal and avoid failures. In the past, cleanliness in the automotive industry only presented a concern with moving mechanics so grit and dirt were the only threats. But, when applying FIPG, contaminants can be more than grit and dirt; various assembly liquids—mold releases, detergents, cutting fluids—exist in the manufacturing processes and can derail this imperative bond. There exist several cleaning processes such as parts washers and solvent wipes to clean surfaces in the automotive industry, however, without a way to monitor and verify these cleaning processes, they are performed in vain.

An engine block manufacturer and supplier to one of the big three automotive manufacturers utilized a parts washer to prepare their engine blocks for sealing. While the manufacturer had the ability to manipulate variables in parts washers such as duration of wash and solvent type, they did not have a way to determine which variables produced the desired results. The only way to discover the success of the parts washer was by failures in the field. This method simply left too much up to chance and the manufacturer knew they needed a change.

The engine block manufacturers required a way to verify each step of their process prior to bonding directly on the manufacturing floor to avoid failures in the field and a way to quantify bond quality for the customer.

BTG Labs brought in a Surface Analyst and dissected each step and variable in the washer process. The instrument took contact angle measurements on different engine blocks and after manipulating different variables in the washers. Up to 12 areas across the same part were measured to examine cleanliness uniformity.

The Surface Analyst quantified the abilities of various parts washers and specific variables in each one. The manufacturer was able to see, on an objective scale, which washer provided the cleanest and most uniform surface and which variables worked best. With a way to verify and monitor the parts washers, the manufacturer gained the ability to optimize their wash process and gained confidence that their seals would hold. The manufacturer used the instrument to build specifications to ensure consistency. This eliminated waste and more importantly, failures in the field. The engine block manufacturer solidified confidence in their product, provided their customer with confidence and a way quantify bond quality, and obtained a competitive edge.

To find out more about controlling the efficiency of any washing process, download the "Manufacturer's Roadmap to Eliminating Adhesion Issues in Production" eBook.

the manufacturer's roadmap to eliminating adhesion issues in production