Tag Archives: aircraft
Manufacturers often encounter a similar puzzle, when cleaning invisible contaminants from a surface, how do you know when the surface is clean; how clean is clean enough? This is a common question that manufacturers ask when preparing their surfaces for bonding, coating, sealing, printing or painting. Until now, there hasn’t been an objective and reliable way to answer this question. Successfully cleaning a surface directly correlates to the adhesive ability of the surface. In order to get something to stick reliably the surface must be clean. How we define that parameter is different for a variety of materials.
For example, you clean your car differently than you clean your dishes. Why? Because a car rides on the road through rain, smog, dirt, maybe mud, and the other is a vehicle for your food.
At BTG Labs, our answer to the “clean enough” question is, “Depends on what you’re doing.” There are dozens of critical surface preparation processes that exist for a number of different applications. A handful include:
- Flame treatment on polypropylene bumpers prior to painting
- Plasma treatment on PET catheters prior to coating
- Hand sanding and solvent wiping on aircraft nut plates before adhesively bonding to composite
- Grit-blasting titanium golf clubs in preparation of bonding to composite
- Corona treatment on film for packaging prior to metallization, lamination, or coating
The aerospace industry knows it must meet high specs to create an aircraft that is safe, reliable, and resilient. As aluminum and titanium materials are more often replaced with stronger, lightweight composites, which require adhesive bonds, knowing that bond will stick is pivotal. The strength and success of that adhesive bond depends on properly preparing the composite surface.
BTG Labs boasts a long-term relationship with the aerospace industry. When the need to create reliable adhesive bonds, BTG Labs received an SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) to collaborate with the USAF. This led to the development of the Surface Analyst™. Using water contact angle measurements–a proven way to predict adhesion in aircrafts–the Surface Analyst is the first hand held surface energy measurement device to accurately and precisely measure surface energy in the aerospace industry. The Surface Analyst also played a major role in the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. BTG Labs continues to contribute to the aerospace industry as more applications arise. In two seconds, the Surface Analyst determines a surface’s readiness to bond successfully in a fast, easy, accurate, non-destructive, and quantifiable way.
With the exciting release and testing of the F-35 Lightning II, BTG Labs swells with pride over its involvement in the development of this remarkable aircraft. The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office recently released a booklet of Small Business Success Stories to share the involvement and collaboration from innovative companies. The use of bonded nut plates makes this plane lighter and tougher. But, successfully bonding nut plates would require verification of surface readiness. BTG Labs’ Surface Analyst provided a way to accurately and precisely measure a surface’s readiness to confidently bond.