Atmospheric plasma and corona treatments are electrical surface treatments used to improve a material’s surface properties for downstream printing, bonding, and adhesion applications. The effects of surface treatments can last hours, weeks, or years depending on the type of material treated, the applied treatment, and the conditions in which the treated material is stored. For best results, secondary processing should be performed shortly after the surface treatment.
At 3DT, we provide customized surface treatment solutions based on each client’s unique application, timing requirements, and processing needs. Here, we’ll discuss the longevity of these treatments, including optimal process windows and decay prevention tips.
Factors Influencing Surface Treatment Longevity
Plasma and corona treated substrates tend to revert to their untreated states over time. The longevity of the surface treatment is influenced by:
Additives. Additives (plasticizers, pigments, etc.) present in the bulk of the treated material can migrate to the surface over time and reduce surface treatment effectiveness.
Process contaminants. Process-related impurities such as mold release agents can adhere to the material’s surface and interfere with downstream surface treatments.
Material density. High-density materials generally maintain their modified surface energy properties longer than low-density materials since their tightly packed polymers slow the migration of subsurface molecules.
Process window. While several factors influence the shelf life of surface-treated materials, tests with polymer surfaces suggest that the surface activating effects are retained at 28 days post-treatment. 3DT works closely with clients to establish a workable process window that accommodates individual timing and processing requirements while optimizing adhesion results.
Surface treatment longevity also varies according to the type of polymer being treated. Typical surface treatment shelf life on commonly used polymers are listed below.
Surface Treatment Shelf Life for Polymers
Process Window Optimization
For optimal results, the time between the surface treatment and secondary printing or bonding operation should be minimized. Roughly 90% of polymers are processed within seconds or hours of being surface-treated. Typical process windows for various substrates are described below.
Polystyrene labware such as Petri dishes and multi-well plates are typically corona treated, packaged, and shipped to the laboratory, where they are used on an as-need basis. These items must be capable of retaining their modified surface properties for long periods and often have expiration dates exceeding two years.
Polypropylene syringes are printed directly after corona treatment to ensure optimal ink adhesion.
EPDM rubber profiles receive adhesives seconds after plasma treatment.
Blown polymer films are typically corona treated, wound into a roll, and stored until needed. Before the final processing step, the roll is cut into a usable size and bump-treated (retreated with the surface treatment).
Glass substrates are corona treated to remove contaminants and enhance hydrophilic surface properties for subsequent bonding applications. Treated glass retains its activated surface for days to weeks, allowing manufacturers to perform the required secondary operations within a reasonable timeframe.
Note how Ink adheres in the
center of the bottle, where it was plasma treated.
Decay Prevention Tips
Key recommendations for preventing surface energy decay after treatment include:
Optimize storage environment:
Avoid high temperatures, which promote faster migration of subsurface molecules.
Maintain low humidity levels
Protect material from airborne contamination and direct skin contact, both of which can accelerate decay
Keep material covered: Surface-treated substrates should be properly covered and protected from the surrounding environment using well-fitted, contaminant-free containers and covering.
Long-Lasting Corona and Plasma Treatment Systems from 3DT
Leveraging over 30 years of experience, 3DT creates industry-leading surface treatment equipment for everything from printing and adhesive processes to sensitive cell-culture applications. For custom requests, we work with clients during the application development phase of their projects to establish an individualized surface treatment strategy. With your application, process, and timing needs in mind, we then develop a custom plasma or corona treatment system that ensures optimal timing between the surface treatment and subsequent processing operations.
Designed for seamless integration into existing production lines, our innovative systems include:
User-friendly operational controls
Run time log
PLC control (for material handling systems)
In addition to our custom capabilities, we also offer a complete line of standard corona and plasma surface treatment systems capable of handling a range of substrates and geometries.
Located in Germantown, Wisconsin, all our products are made in the USA. Contact us or request a quote to discuss your adhesion challenges and equipment needs.
Medical practitioners are increasingly utilizing plastics in their devices and instruments due to the material’s versatility, quick processing, light weight, bio-compatibility, sterility and price point. Plasma and corona surface treatment are an ideal fit for medical, pharmaceutical, and labware manufacturing. Once surface treated the value of inexpensive polymer parts greatly increases due to now becoming specialized, functionalized, engineered components. Plasma and corona surface treatment produce reliable, durable, and uniform results through electrical discharge that heighten energy on the surface of polymers and other substrates to increase their capacity for adhesion and bonding.
What Can Plasma Surface Treatment and Corona Surface Treatment
Note how the ink adheres in the center of the bottle where it was plasma treated with 3DT’s PlasmaDyne Pro.
Achieve in Medical Device Manufacturing?
Medical device manufacturers use plasma and corona surface treatment for various reasons. First, surface modification improves adhesive, coating, and ink bonds with a substrate by chemically changing substrates from being hydrophobic to hydrophilic. Manufacturers utilize corona and plasma treatment to solve complex challenges, especially plastic material applications that present incompatibility issues for bonding. Other specialized applications include applying protective coatings that either draw or fend off fluids and improved cell adhesion in laboratory containers made from polycarbonate and polystyrene.
What Are Some Useful Applications for Plasma and Corona Treatment in the Medical Industry?
Within medical manufacturing, the range of uses for plastics is vast. As a result, corona and plasma technology is regularly used for improving the bonding power of ink, adhesives and cell culture growth. Surface treated items include syringes, tubing, pipettes, bottles, flasks, vials, multi-well plates, Eppendorf tubes, culture plates, and other polymer labware items manufactured for research, drug discovery, and diagnostics testing. Surface treatment is employed for all types of parts and components for medical devices and pharma packaging.
Plasma treatment can assist the bonding of dissimilar materials. This can involve bonding metal to plastic, silicon to glass, polymers to other polymers, biological content to microtiter plates, and even bonding to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Whether bonding metal to plastic, silicon to glass, polymers to other polymers or biological content to microtiter plates, corona and plasma can be used to promote adhesion.
Adhesion promotion is achieved by increasing the substrates surface-free energy creating a dramatic improvement in bonding. In some cases, up to a 50x increase in bond strength can be achieved.
What Are the Benefits of Using Plasma and Corona Surface Treatments?
Plasma and corona surface treatment generate numerous benefits for medical, pharmaceutical, and laboratory components. These treatments offer:
Surface treatment creates secure bonding of ink, coating, adhesive and more.
Businesses in these sectors all require reliable, high-quality products for critical applications, making plasma and corona treatment ideal. As these surface treatments ensure consistent and superior wettability, the resulting products will have greater capabilities for adhesion—even for the most challenging of plastic substrates—as well as overall product performance. The secure bonding with media such as ink, paint, and adhesives is an important benefit for medical devices, changing a two-dollar plastic part into a fifty-dollar component. 3DT specializes in developing these processes and systems for customer’s unique applications.
Both plasma and corona surface treatment are typically fast, usually taking little time at all, depending on the process and materials. Treating can take just seconds to complete, with the potential for treating up to 1,000 parts per hour. As an added benefit, these surface treatments do not necessitate primers, curing or drying; cutting those stages from the production timeline for greater time savings.
These processes are an excellent solution for products that need treating on the whole of their surface, even hard-to-reach nooks, crannies, and drill holes. As such, they are ideal for 3D components with complex configurations, providing consistent, reliable pretreatment. Processes utilize highly repeatable, recipe-based programming.
3DT’s MultiDyne with 2 treating heads treats a medical device placed on a spinning mandrel prior to printing.
Plasma and corona surface treatments have opened up additional opportunities for medical manufacturers. To start, the speed of these treatments plays a part in increased savings. They can also reduce operating costs by allowing companies to adopt the use of alternative materials that are less expensive than typical base substrates, as well as chemicals, primers, and adhesives. This also leads to less scrap and waste generated which equates to greater savings as well.
Surface treatment improves the adhesion of environmentally-friendly, solvent-free, water-based primers, adhesives, and inks, eliminating the use of chemical baths and primers. Plasma surface treatment, unlike chemical processes such as priming or etching, are clean processes that do not produce environmentally harmful waste. Instead, they give off minor amounts of non-hazardous gasses only. Corona processes generate ozone, but using an ozone filter eliminates the issue. Additionally, corona and plasma do not use an open flame, and are much safer for operators.
What Medical Devices Are Treated with Plasma Surface Treatment or Corona Surface Treatment?
3DT’s FlexiDyne Pro quickly corona treats polystyrene labware for improved cell culture growth.
Plasma and corona surface treatments are applicable for:
Labware: flasks, multi-well plates
3DT is Your Source for Corona & Plasma Technology
Plasma and corona surface treatment are vital in healthcare manufacturing for providing effective, reliable adhesion and product performance. As a leading manufacturer in surface treatment, 3DT LLC provides clients with innovative, high-performance bonding solutions for a wide variety of substrates from plastics and rubber to glass and metal. We offer both standard and custom-engineered systems for greater application versatility. Learn more about our product line here. Our team can incorporate 3DT’s systems into new or existing production lines. For more information on our capabilities and how our surface treatment technology can support your operations contact us today at sales@3DTLLC.com or call 1-262-253-6700.