An Exceptional and Versatile Surface Treatment
Among the various methods of surface treatment processes, plasma treatment stands as a highly respected method. Plasma treatment is a surface treatment process performed prior to bonding. This method increases surface energy, activating the surface to better bond, paint, print, seal, or coat. Plasma removes contaminants, cleans to a microscopic level, and can even coat a surface. A unique advantage of plasma treatment is its versatility. It can be used on a highly diverse range of materials including plastic, metals, glass, cardboard, textiles, composites, electronic devices, and even rubber.
But, what exactly is plasma treatment? Well, there are two types: atmospheric and vacuum. Both types alter the surface by oxidating them. This newly activated surface encompasses the ability to form stronger bonds. Vacuum plasma treatment allows control over more variables such as gas composition and ratios. Because of this, it is the preferred method for coatings. Eye glass coatings, for example, require highly specific gas compositions in order to create protective or non-reflective coatings, but the process contains more steps and takes up more time. On the other hand, atmospheric plasma treatment contains fewer controls and it typically applies to small treatment areas. But, it better applies to continuous processes for large scale manufacturing as it can fit in right on the assembly line.
Plasma can also benefit surfaces that are difficult to treat such as heat sensitive material. Furthermore, plastic manufacturers use plasma as the preferred surface treatment method. As plastic surfaces lack texture which can deter printing and coating, plasma treatment activates the surface to allow successful bonding on plastic surfaces.
Plasma Treatment in BTG’s Lab
BTG Labs’ Materials and Processing Laboratory uses a Plasmatreat plasma device for research and development. The lab uses the atmospheric plasma device along with our surface energy gauge, the Surface Analyst™ to determine appropriate surface treatment levels for customers. By creating specs and determining how to create the desired surface energy to maintain those specs, BTG Labs can optimize the plasma treatment process.
Plasmatreat uses a Surface Analyst as part of their process characterization. Plasmatreat recently published their own blog post featuring BTG Labs’ Surface Analyst as one of their verification methods.
The Surface Analyst can also assist in the manufacturer’s surface treatment process. Often, plasma treatment requires an initial surface cleaning process such as a sanding or solvent wiping. The Surface Analyst can determine a surface’s readiness for plasma as well as the results of a surface’s cleanliness level post treatment. Moreover, the level of plasma treatment required for a specific material and procedure can be difficult to determine. The Surface Analyst can take surface measurements of varying treatment levels to tailor the process to fit a manufacturer’s specifications. Lastly, the Surface Analyst can monitor the surface at varying levels to ensure consistency and reliability throughout the manufacturing process.