|Surface Analyst XA|
BTG Labs (Cincinnati), a materials science–based technology company focused on surface critical processes in manufacturing, recently introduced an automated system for evaluating material surfaces. Surface Analyst XA reduces waste, rework and recalls when poorly prepared substrate surfaces lead to bonding, coating, sealing, painting or printing failure, said the company. BTG Labs will showcase the technology in booth 349 at the co-located MD&M West and PLASTEC West event in Anaheim, CA, on February 5 to 7, 2019.
The XA applies the proven technology employed by the original handheld Surface Analyst, which BTG first developed for use in the aerospace industry. By automating the process of depositing a purified drop of water on a surface and measuring the contact angle, the XA accelerates speed and efficiency by completing inspections on multiple surface points at rates reaching 5,000 inspections per hour. As a result, the XA maps a surface across multiple points, ensuring the consistency and uniformity of surface quality on products ranging from electronic displays and critical medical device components to cast or machined metal parts and glass surfaces.
Typical applications involving polymers include:
- Monitoring and validating polymer surface activation processes such as corona, flame or plasma treatment before and after treatment to ensure they are effective and not drifting out of spec over time;
- establishing the spec or baseline surface quality of incoming materials before they enter the manufacturing process;
- detecting contamination caused by additive blooming, which can disrupt adhesion at the chemical level;
- validating the presence and uniformity of coatings on medical tubing;
- verifying polymer surfaces of electronic boards to ensure effective and uniform conformal coatings; and
- ensuring proper preparation of polymer surfaces for holding print, paint or coatings.
The XA measurement process is touchless and completely non-destructive. The unit uses highly purified HPLC-grade water to prevent contamination of inspected material surfaces. Being automated, the XA limits operator error and variation between inspections.
Data capture and transfer to manufacturing execution systems is automatic with the powerful Archer software, providing statistical process control as well as long-term trend analysis that monitors process drift.
The XA unit can be integrated into a production line using either a robot or linear actuator to move it from point to point, or it can be fixed in place on the line. Off-line cell inspections can also be conducted robotically or with a linear actuator. Self-implementing or full-line integration options are available.
The XA can be configured to match unique manufacturing processes; customizable fixtures can hold a variety of material sample shapes and sizes.
The XA accommodates TCP/IP/Serial integration, and outputs data into the easy-to-use CSV file format.
Surface Analyst technology is widely used in the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical device and consumer product industries and in a range of manufacturing and assembly operations.