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Author Archives: 3DT LLC

  1. Corona vs. Plasma Treatment

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    For more than 30 years, 3DT LLC has been a leading provider of specialized corona and plasma surface treatments for customers around the world. Our state-of-the-art systems can be used as stand-alone stations, incorporated into new and existing production processes, or integrated into fully or semi-automated production lines. With 3DT’s 2- and 3- dimensional treating systems and a wide variety of custom configurations, we have a solution for virtually any application. In addition to manufacturing our cutting-edge equipment, we offer services such as design, manufacturing, product handling, installation, training, and maintenance service.

    One of the more common questions we field about electrical surface treatment is, “What is the difference between corona and plasma treatment?” and then, “What best fits my application?” Both corona and plasma treatment increase the surface energy of numerous materials improving the adhesion of inks, adhesives, coatings, and other agents. However, they both have unique properties that require consideration in terms of applications.

    In this post, we discuss the advantages and uses of corona treatment vs. plasma treatment, to aide in your understanding. However, our sales team will actively guide you in selecting the best system for your material, process and application.

    This blog discusses the differences between corona treatment and plasma treatment, including how they work and the various systems that 3DT offers.

    What is Corona & Plasma Treatment?

    multidyne corona treatment

    How Does it Work?

    Corona and plasma treatment are both forms of electrical surface treatment. They use the power of electrical energy to change the chemical properties of material placed within an energy stream. This stream of electrically loaded molecules causes an intensified reaction with the material resulting in better wettability and stronger bonding traits. Electrical surface treatment is highly suitable for three-dimensional polymer parts, thin film, rubber profiles, glass labware, metal parts, coated paperboard and thicker materials such as foam and solid sheets of material.

    When this phenomenon is contained inside an electrically grounded chamber, an air stream can be introduced to this chamber to force the plasma outwards in a controlled fashion and onto materials in a process called plasma treatment or atmospheric plasma treatment. However, when an insulator is placed between the two electrodes, the avalanche effect is avoided and the result is a cloud of ionized air. This ionized air – Corona Discharge – can now be used for the surface treatment of a wide number of materials that show poor or no adhesion properties to media such as printing inks, adhesives, etc.

    What’s the Difference Between Corona & Plasma Treatment?

    Plasma discharge has a relatively narrow treating width but is capable of imparting enormous surface energies onto substrates. The plasma treating heads can also be quickly mounted onto existing lines with little setup. The plasma discharge is virtually potential-free so it can be used to treat conductive materials. Plasma also produces no ozone gas which is a natural byproduct of the corona process. Alternatively, corona discharge typically imparts less surface energy but can treat very large areas. Corona treatment also has the advantage of being able to treat inside parts or in the recesses of 3-dimensional parts.

    Our Most Popular Treatment Systems

    3DT designs and manufactures an extensive range of cutting-edge surface treatment products, including:

    multidyne MultiDyne™

    3DT’s MultiDyne™ corona treatment system creates optimal surface tension, or wettability, on a broad range of parts and materials. A highly repeatable and controlled process, MultiDyne™ is typically used to prepare blow molded, injection molded, and extruded parts and products. MultiDyne™ creates highly effective, uniform adhesion on surfaces for printing, coating, gluing, and lamination.

    MultiDyne™’s state-of-the-art corona discharge technology works by creating a short circuit between two high voltage electrodes. A constant flow of air between the electrodes facilitates even distribution of the corona field onto the surface of the treated material, creating a highly receptive adhesive surface. It is perfect for treating areas that are commonly a challenge for other surface treatments, including complex geometries, hard-to-reach areas, and metal-adjacent surfaces.

    PolyDyne™

    polydyne conveyer ceramic system for surface treatmentPolyDyne™ is one of 3DT’s most powerful corona treatment systems. This extremely dependable and reliable system is particularly useful in high-speed operations, such as printing, extrusion, assembly, and coating production lines. PolyDyne™ is exceptionally versatile and can be used to treat everything from the interior surface of needle hubs to automotive components. Using the latest technology, PolyDyne™ directs corona treatment with an exceptional degree of precision onto virtually any surface.

    PolyDyne™ is specifically designed with flexibility in mind. All of our systems can be customized to meet the particular needs of your application, including custom electrode systems, ozone eliminators, and a variety of material handling systems. For more resistant materials, we are pleased to offer our PolyDyne Pro™ system.

    PlasmaDyne Pro™

    PlasmaDyne Pro™ uses a stream of highly ionized plasma to modify the chemical properties of the surface material within the stream. The surface becomes highly receptive to chemical bonding. PlasmaDyne Pro™ enhances the adhesion of ink and adhesive to a wide range of components, from plastic tubing and medical devices to rubber automotive seals. 3DT’s PlasmaDyne Pro™ is a compact and energy efficient system, with an optimized control unit, adjustable treatment levels, and modular replacement parts that allow you to tailor the system to your particular needs.

    plasmadyne pro surface treatment

    Premium Surface Treatment Systems by 3DT

    At 3DT, we are committed to developing superior surface treatment systems for every industry.  We have spent decades at the forefront of corona and plasma technology and are dedicated to solving even the most complex adhesion challenges. To learn more about our surface treatment systems and related services, visit our product page, or contact our experts today.

     

     

  2. 3DT Adds Allen-Bradley’s PanelView Plus to Options

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    3DT now offers Allen-Bradley’s PanelView Plus 7 HMI with MicroLogix 1400 PLC as a standard operator console in many of our systems.  While we still offer Maple Systems’ HMI in many products in 3DT’s line, the PanelView Plus 7 goes a step further in enhancing the user interface.  It is built with an aluminum housing, giving the HMI a quality look and feel.  The touch screen also provides a higher resolution, allowing for clearer images on-screen.

    Allen Bradley PanelView Plus*Picture from Allen-Bradley Website (7 inch PanelView Plus 7)

    The PanelView Plus 7 is a great option for those who use other Allen-Bradley products in their facility with Ethernet/IP communication.  While data logging can be done using Ethernet/IP, the PanelView Plus 7 can also create a CSV file of the system data and store it on a USB drive.  The data stored can provide insight on the system’s productivity and overall status.  Real-time data trends can also be viewed on the PanelView.  The data trend graphs also provide a look back function to view previous system data.

    Example images from the PanelView Plus 7.  Top 2 images: Real Time Data Trends.

    Real Time Data Trends

    Real Time Data Trends

    Below: System Menu

    System Menu

    Below: Graph created using temperature data from CSV file.

    Graph created using temperature data from CSV file.

    Both options, PanelView Plus 7 and Maple Systems, provide an excellent interface for 3DT’s systems while allowing for different options based on specific needs and budgets.

    Contact us one of our sales engineers today at sales@3DTLLC.com to discuss your application.

  3. What is the process for purchasing a surface treatment system from 3DT?

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    The Purchasing Process Involves Strong Communication, Teamwork and Creativity

    By Gary Kohlnhofer & Nick Anton

    3DT strives to find a highly effective and dependable solution for every client’s unique surface treatment application and adhesion challenge. Whether that solution lies in our line of standard products or engineered through our application development process, we utilize a collaborative approach to produce a successful, “real world”, proven solution. Typically, the process for purchasing a system follow the steps below. Standard systems ensue a shorter process and, if the item is in stock, it can be shipped within days. Custom systems follow the same initial and final steps but incorporate additional steps collaborating with customers and our team to develop the correct solution. Additionally, it’s not unusual for customers to visit 3DT at some point along the process. Please see the flow chart below.

    Purchasing a Standard System-

    1. Reaching out- Typically, a customer calls, emails, or sends an RFQ sharing a need for better adhesion on their component.
    2. The application is explored– Our sales engineers discuss the application with them gathering more details on the type of material, process parameters, cycle time, material handling considerations, etc. Photos and samples are often sent to 3DT to provide more information about the component.
    3. Samples are surface treated- Samples are precisely tested and documented with the appropriate surface treatment system utilizing the customer’s process specifications. A detailed lab report and photos are provided by our engineering assistants assuring the customer’s surface treatment needs are met. This step is not always necessary.
    4. System selection- If 3DT’s experienced sales team determine that a standard system rather than a custom system will provide a solution to the customer, that information is provided and explained in greater detail along with sharing tech data sheets, videos, drawings and/or photos. Please see below where the additional steps to purchasing a custom system are discussed.
    5. Quotation- Once the customer and 3DT agree upon a practical solution, a detailed quote is provided including a description of the equipment, price, payment terms, and estimated delivery time.
    6. Customer purchase order – Approval of the final quote is certified with a purchase order.
    7. Production- Once a purchase order is received, the equipment is put in the production schedule and built in-house in Germantown, Wisconsin by our highly experienced team. Alternatively, many standard systems are kept in stock at 3DT for quick delivery.
    8. QC Testing- The system is tested by Quality Control to assure that all aspects of the equipment are functioning to our design specifications.
    9. Ship it- The system is then packed, crated and shipped along with a comprehensive instruction manual.
    10. After sales- The sale does not end here. 3DT stocks all replacement parts for their systems. Our service team is readily available to assist if needed. Your salesman will be in touch to assure a smooth transition into successful production. Training and installation can also be provided.

    Purchasing a Custom System Custom systems follow the same steps above but incorporate these additional steps.

    3. Custom system-  Conversations continue with the customer to determine process parameters, production details and more. After further discussion, sample testing, and analysis the team determines a custom system best suits the customer’s need.

    4b. Application development- With adhesion results on the customer’s sample proven out, an Application Meeting is held with 3DT’s sales engineer and their mechanical and electrical engineers to develop a concept and surface treatment method. Once the concept is designed on paper a conference call is held with the customer and 3DT’s team to discuss the design. Changes, adjustments and more calls are made until a successful solution is found and the customer is comfortable with the concept.

    6b. Approval drawing- A final concept drawing is developed then signed off by the customer before production begins.

    Flow Chart- Purchasing Process

  4. Reviewing Surface Treatments: Decorating, Printing and Bonding on Plastic IS Possible

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    Plastics Decorating Magazine's Enews
    This plastic bottle has been plasma-treated in the center only. Note how the ink bonds to the surface where treated but beads up where the bottle was not treated.

    From Plastics Decorating Magazine’s Enews July 2020

    By Gary Kohlnhofer, Senior Sales Engineer, 3DT LLC

    Polymers have many useful properties, making them the material of choice. Polypropylene and polyethylene are prime examples. However, polymers typically have insufficient surface energy and poor wettability for most printing and bonding applications. Fortunately, corona and plasma surface treatment modify the surface of polymer substrates and raise their surface energy for printing, coating, painting and adhesive applications. As a result, the usefulness of polymers greatly increases for decorating and bonding applications.

    Let’s take a look at each of these methods of surface treatment, their applications and benefits:

    What is corona treatment?

    Corona treatment makes use of a generator and high voltage transformer to create a high voltage/high frequency corona discharge applied through an electrode with small airgap onto the surface to be treated. The result is a cloud of ionized air – or corona discharge – which then is used for the surface treatment of plastics and other materials.

    A substance placed under the corona discharge is impacted by electrons with energy two to three times that necessary to break the molecular bonds on the surface. The resulting free radicals rapidly react with the oxidation of products in the corona discharge or with adjoining free radicals on the same or different chain, resulting in a cross-link. Oxidation of the surface increases the surface tension or surface energy, allowing for better wetting by liquids and promoting adhesion.

    In the photo to the right, MultiDyne’s discharge treats ampules before printing.

    How is corona used in relation to plastics decorating?

    Corona treatment often is used inline on web-based printing machines, such as for treating label materials. Films such as polypropylene and polyethylene, for example, are treated inline prior to the digital printing decks to increase the surface tension and improve wettability and adhesion of digital inks. With these inline corona treating systems, the web is threaded over a treater roller and high voltage/high frequency power is applied to the electrode resulting in corona discharge through a small airgap. Corona treating systems also can be used on a high-speed cup decorating line, treating the cup on a mandrel prior to the printing decks.

    What types of applications or surfaces is corona treatment better suited for and why?

    Corona discharge effectively improves the surface tension on numerous materials that show poor or no adhesion properties to media, such as printing inks and adhesives.

    Reviewing Surface Treatments: Decorating, Printing and Bonding on Plastic IS Possible
    This MultiDyne system with two treating heads and a conveyor is designed for improving adhesion on small parts.

     

     

     

     

    Corona treating systems lend themselves to many applications, such as inline printing presses, but discreet parts can be treated as well with custom conveyor-based systems. A conveyor-based system using rotating electrodes treats different shapes and sizes without set up changes.

    These systems are very user-friendly and provide for uniform, repeatable surface treatment and high production rates. Individual parts also can be treated in fixtures with corona treatment delivered by custom electrodes and generator configurations.

    What are the benefits and challenges of this particular treatment?

    The benefits of the corona treatment process include the ability to print on substrates that otherwise would not be possible. Users also benefit from better print quality and faster printing line speeds, resulting in higher production and output.

    What is plasma treatment?

    Plasma surface treatment (also called in-air and atmospheric plasma) improves the wetting properties of polymeric materials, rubber, metals, glass, ceramics, paperboard and more. The molecules of these difficult-to-bond materials are modified by the plasma process to obtain better adhesion without causing harm to the surface.

    3DT's PlasmaDyne plasma treatment system. Rotating heads provides full coverage of a metalized plastic part.
    PlasmaDyne PRO rotating head treats a metallized plastic part to improve adhesion of ink/paint.

    Atmospheric plasma is created by combining reactive gas molecules and an electric field. This technology uses one or more high voltage electrodes which charge the surrounding blown gas molecules, resulting in a highly ionized field that is forced onto a targeted surface. This highly ionized air stream creates a thermal property that reacts with the substrate and breaks the existing hydrogen bonds by introducing oxygen which recreates the chemical properties of the surface. The atmospheric plasma process causes an intensified reaction with the material, resulting in better wettability, stronger bonding traits and micro-cleaned surfaces, and eliminates the possibility for unwanted backside treatment.

    How is it typically applied/integrated into the workflow?

    Plasma treating systems often are placed just prior to printing on inline printing production lines. The plasma treating head is mounted above a profile allowing the material to pass under the treating head and then the printing head improving the adhesion of the digital inks. Alternately, individual parts can be placed in a fixture then inserted into a plasma treating system set up to index the treating head back and forth over the parts, treating the top surface of the parts. Once treated, this fixture can be inserted into the digital printer for improved printability thanks to plasma treatment.

    PlasmaDyne PRO rotating head treats a metallized plastic part to improve adhesion of ink/paint.
    Here PlasmaDyne PRO is fitted to a robotic arm to quickly plasma treat defined areas of parts.

     

    What are the benefits and challenges of this particular treatment?

    Because atmospheric plasma is nearly potential-free, one important advantage is that plasma treatment can be incorporated into conductive, semi-conductive and non-conductive applications.

    Plasma is effective for cleaning surfaces by removing impurities, contaminants, residue and organic compounds. This process, called micro cleaning or etching, provides another important aspect in improving adhesion. What’s more, surface activation by plasma treatment is exceedingly fast, effective, economical and environmentally safe.

    What are 3DT’s surface treatment options for printing and decorating on plastics?

    3DT LLC provides a complete line of corona and plasma surface treating systems designed to overcome many adhesion challenges.  We offer standard and custom-built systems and application development.

    FlexiDyne Pro corona treatment system for labware and plastic parts.

    Our 3DT FlexiDyne PRO system is a conveyor-based corona treating system that utilizes rotating electrodes to provide a wider treat area and uniform, repeatable treatment with high production rates.

    In order to treat individual parts and profiles, we can provide a corona treating system using our 3DT PolyDyne generator and high voltage transformer technology and electrode system designed specifically for the part/profile to be treated.  Especially useful is our 3DT UltraDyne generator package designed for high speed cup and tube printing and decorating applications. UltraDyne provides consistent, strong high-frequency treating where other systems can’t.

    UltraDyne cup treater

    For surface treatment utilizing plasma technology, we offer our 3DT MultiDyne low frequency plasma system as well as our recently updated 3DT PlasmaDyne PRO system.  The PlasmaDyne PRO system with adjustable power output is especially suited for today’s system requirements to be easily adjusted for process changes.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Gary Kohlnhofer has 38 years of experience in the plastics industry, 15 of those as Senior Sales Engineer with 3DT LLC. 3DT LLC is a manufacturer of surface treatment equipment, offering standard and custom-built systems and application development. Established in 1991, 3DT has been developing solutions for adhesion and bonding challenges for enumerable applications in all industry sectors. 3DT manufactures a complete line of corona and plasma systems incorporating robust design, proven technology and exceptional customer service with every standard and custom-engineered system. 3DT’s systems are designed and manufactured in Germantown, Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.3DTllc.com.

  5. Finding the Sweet Spot and the Right Corona Treater for Polypropylene

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    Corona treating is an efficient and cost-effective way of raising the wettability, bonding-properties, and surface tension of polypropylene products. Corona treatment can effectively improve bonding on a wide range of materials that show poor or no adhesion to media such as printing inks, paints, coating, and adhesives. Because of corona treatment’s flexible nature, it can even successfully treat tough-to-bond polymeric and elastomeric materials.

    MultiDyne

    MultiDyne is a versatile, cost-efficient low-frequency corona system.

    Unfortunately, corona treating is not without minor drawbacks. When treating polypropylene with low-frequency corona, small marks may be visible on the surface of the product after treating, which are referred to as “fish-marks.” These marks tend to appear more visible on glossy material than on matte materials. The reason they appear is due to the frequency at which the material is treated. Low-frequency corona treaters operate at a line frequency of 50 or 60 Hertz. This means it’s a common issue that ALL low-frequency corona treaters are subject to leave possible “fish-marks” on polypropylene.

    Fortunately, this problem can be mitigated in a number of ways, such as increasing the distance between treating heads and material being treated. Or increasing the line speed can be helpful in finding the “sweet spot,” where the necessary treatment is obtained with minimal spots appearing  on the surface.  Furthermore, the marks can be minimized when covered by printing, labeling, or applying adhesives.

    PolyDyne pro corona treatment

    PolyDyne Pro is a high-frequency generator that can power a multitude of systems.

    Finally, this problem can be avoided all together by using high-frequency corona treatment, if the process and geometry of the product permit. High-frequency systems require more product integration and handling and are typically more expensive due to their sophisticated design and components. With high-frequency corona treating, all adverse effects that come with low-frequency treating on polypropylene, such as fish marks, are avoided.

    Another option for improving surface energy and adhesion is plasma treatment. Plasma treatment is highly suitable for three-dimensional plastic parts and rubber parts and can be a viable, albeit pricier solution. Plasma treatment is also widely used on metal, ceramic and glass surfaces.

    3DT's PlasmaDyne plasma treatment system. Rotating heads provides full coverage of a metalized plastic part.

    PlasmaDyne Pro’s powerful plasma discharge.

    3DT offers all systems mentioned above; from the low-frequency, cost-efficient yet effective MultiDyne to high-frequency systems, including PolyDyne Pro, FlexiDyne Pro and UltraDyne. As well as the flexible, powerful PlasmaDyne Pro.

    All systems are offered as standard systems for numerous applications or customized for a specific application. Contact our expert sales team regarding your adhesion challenges!

    Email: sales@3DTLLC.com  Phone: 1-262-253-6700

    UltraDyne provides consistent, strong, high-frequency treating where other systems can't.

    UltraDyne provides consistent, strong, high-frequency treating where other systems can’t.

  6. See the Newest Offerings in Corona & Plasma Treatment at K 2019

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    Is a trip to Germany to visit the K 2019 “World’s No. 1 Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber” in your schedule for next month?  Then plan to stop by and see us at the upcoming K 2019 show in Dusseldorf, Germany from October 16th-23rd,  2019.  We will be available to discuss the latest offerings at the Softal Corona and Plasma booth in Hall 10/H74 and at the AFS booth at Hall 10/H64. 

    You’ll be able to see the latest module based generator technology and the newest offerings in corona and plasma treating station design.  Erik Kiel and I will also be discussing several exclusive offerings available from 3DT including our Foam Treating System for in line treatment of thick foam type materials at thicknesses up to 6mm.  We’ll also be highlighting our Conveyor Sheet Treating System for treating sheets on a conveyor as well as our Sheet and Panel Treating System for treating large format panels.  View our K Show Preview  page and the dedicated webpage to learn more. 

    You don’t have to wait to see us in Germany.  You can contact us anytime at www.3DTLLC.com

    Best Regards, 

    Gary Kohlnhofer

     

    3DT's corona system for treating small panels and sheets. 3DT's PolyDyne Pro engineered for rolls of foam.

    PolyDyne Pro corona system from 3DT for the treatment of rigid sheets, panels and boards3DT's corona treatment system for panels, boards, and heavy sheets