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Case Study

Ensuring Successful RTV Sealing in Automotive Engines

Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) adhesives brag several benefits over traditional gaskets, including cost-effectiveness and faster and easier application. However, RTV silicone does not perform well with hydrocarbons which are highly inevitable in the automotive industry. When RTV is replacing gaskets, its adhesive ability is the pinnacle, requiring clean surfaces for optimal adhesion. This requires a method in which to monitor and measure surface cleanliness on a sensitive, objective level.

When a large American automotive manufacturer began to notice engine leaks in the field, they required a change in their surface cleaning processes. The most commonly used materials in engine manufacturing included diecast and machined aluminum—their aluminum cleaning methods comprised of washing, plasma treatment, and conversion coating.

When using a material that requires optimal surface cleanliness for successful bonds, supplier and assembly checks are necessary to understand how clean or contaminated the material is before it enters the cleaning process. Because of this, the company also required a way to check incoming materials from suppliers.

The company first employed dyne inks to determine the surface cleanliness levels on their metals after performing their specified cleaning processes but to no avail. There was too much subjectivity in the inks; the suppliers couldn’t tell for sure whether or not the metal was clean, and their engines still omitted leaks.

Interpreting the Surface

An employee of the automotive manufacturer discovered Brighton Science on the internet and recruited the Surface Analyst™. They took 10,000 measurements with different cleaning processes to analyze the varying surface energies. After interpreting the results, they settled on a pass/fail qualification. This would articulate to all of the manufacturers within the entire company, on a completely objective scale, whether or not their newly prepared surfaces met the desired cleanliness levels to bond RTV.  The company now had a way to check incoming supplier materials as well as assembly checks.

Conventional methods are too subjective and destructive, leading to bond failures and wasted material. The Surface Analyst delivers a quantitative, nondestructive, and non-subjective way to measure surface cleanliness and ensure reliable and successful bonds.

Struggling with adhesion failures? Been there. Solved that.