The Plasma Process
Plasma treatment is used to alter the surface properties of a wide range of materials making them easier to bond, glue and paint. By plasma treating parts we both clean and activate the surface, improving their adhesion characteristics.
Plasma surface treatment (also called atmospheric plasma) improves the wetting properties of polymeric materials, rubber, metals, glass, ceramics and more. The molecules of difficult-to-bond materials is modified to obtain better adhesion without causing harm to the surface. 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, packaging, converting, narrow web, and polymer film.
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 (or in air 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.
Surface activation can be measured with a tensiometer which measures the contact angle of a droplet of water. A Dyne Solution Test Kit is another useful way to evaluate surface 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. Sometimes this process is called micro cleaning or etching and 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
View 3DT’s innovative and reliable plasma systems for 3D parts here or our plasma systems for foam, boards, and glass here.
To discuss your application, please call 1-262-253-6700 or email us at sales@3DTLLC.com .