The Plasma Process
Plasma treatment is used to alter the surface properties on a wide range of materials vastly improving the adhesion of media, such as glue, ink and paint. Plasma treatment also cleans and activates surfaces thereby improving adhesion.
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.
Atmospheric plasma is created by combining reactive gas molecules and an electric field. This system uses one or more high voltage electrodes which charge the surrounding blown gas molecules, resulting in a highly ionized field that is forced onto the 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, micro cleaned surfaces and eliminates the possibility for unwanted backside treatment.
Plasma treatment is highly suitable for three-dimensional plastic parts, thin film, rubber profiles, coated paperboard and thicker materials such as foam and solid sheets of material. This technology is useful in many industrial sectors including medical, automotive, air and space, packaging, converting, narrow web, and polymer film.
Surface activation can be measured with a tensiometer which measures the contact angle of a droplet of water before and after surface treatment as seen below. A Dyne Solution Test Kit is another useful way to evaluate surface tension or wettability.
Plasma Advantages and Uses
Because atmospheric plasma is potential-free, one important advantage is that plasma treatment can be incorporated into conductive, semi-conductive as well as 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.
Some useful applications for plasma treatment include:
- Painting or printing on plastic parts, cables and pipes
- Improving adhesion on polymer extrusion and coating lines
- Rubber profiles prior to printing or coating
- Pretreating aluminun and metal surfaces for improved wettability
- Glue-lines on cardboard containers
- Silicone foam prior to applying adhesives
- Composite boards for improved adhesion of paint and ink
To discuss your application, please call 1-262-253-6700 or email us at sales@3DTLLC.com .