It’s the first day of spring. Depending on where you live, this could mean opening the windows, planting seeds, rolling out the motorcycle, and waiting for Opening Day. Here at BTG Labs, we think of spring cleaning. Of course, this usually generates visions of humming vacuums and sloppy mops, but we see whooshing parts washers and smooth solvent wipes. Why? Well, because our instrument, the Surface Analyst is a significant player in the cleaning game.

The Surface Analyst is the keystone to verifying, troubleshooting, monitoring, and even choosing a cleaning process.

A cleaning method is only as useful as it’s verification process. In under two seconds, the Surface Analyst measures water contact angle to determine surface cleanliness. The instrument can be programmed to produce a pass/fail result based on the manufacturer’s specifications. This is an easy, objective method that immediately assures the technician of the surface cleaning process.

Furthermore the Surface Analyst can be used to choose the most efficient cleaning method and optimize existing cleaning methods. Sometimes a particular solvent is more effective than another or the water in a parts washer becomes dirty. The Surface Analyst helps detect these elements to ensure the process is running flawlessly.

Lastly, the Surface Analyst helps manufacturers choose the best cleaning method for their manufacturing process. In most scenarios, the only way to test a cleaning process is in the field or the laboratory. This is time consuming and causes failures and waste. The Surface Analyst, on the other hand, tells the user right on the factory floor, whether or not the part has been properly cleaned to bond, print, seal, coat, or paint without out wasting time or material.

 A cleaning process study conducted by BTG Labs shows how easy it is to develop proper surface cleaning processes for optimal adhesion.Figures 1 and 2 compare different washing methods on metals and composites. Figure 1, displaying measurements on metals, shows the contact angles—which lower as surface cleanliness increases—after various washing techniques. This study shows that the most highly effective cleaning method for these metals is a parts washer followed by an aerospace grade solvent wipe. While Figure 2 suggests that the parts washer alone is highly ineffective on these composites, but when followed by a solvent wipe, produces the cleanest surface.

These two figures, generated in a timely fashion, show how easily washing methods may be compared using the Surface Analyst to improve and optimize the surface cleaning process.

BTG’s laboratory maintains all of the above cleaning abilities to develop and troubleshoot surface processes.