The ABCs of plasma cleaning for improving surface adhesion and processing

Plasma cleaning is a process that is gaining more popularity in thin film applications due its highly effective performance on cleaning and modifying surfaces.

What is Plasma?

Plasma is an energy-rich gas state that can be used to modify the surface of a product to improve its performance.

How does Plasma work?

Plasma technology is based on a simple physical principle.

Matter changes its state when energy is supplied to it. Solids become liquid. Liquids become gas.

If additional energy is then fed into a gas by means of electrical discharge it eventually ionizes and goes into the energy-rich plasma state, the fourth state of matter.

Plasma is created.


How can Plasma be used to improve the performance of the coating on the surface?

Plasma treatment can clean, activate or coat nearly all surfaces. These surfaces include plastics, metals, (e.g., aluminum), glass, recycled materials and composite materials.

This means the plasma process can be highly effective on many different products.

Plasma cleaning treatment can be used in two highly effective ways. 

It could be used to:

  1. Clean the surface to be 100% contamination free. The surface will be free of residues and contamination.
  2. Activate the surface by changing the surface energy. This would allow easier bonding and better adhesion to the surface.

These properties make it a highly practical technique for improving the surface performance of a product.


What are the typical plasma processes available for surface treatment?

There are traditionally three types of plasma treatment:

  1. Low-pressure plasma
  2. Corona treatment
  3. Atmospheric pressure plasma

Low-pressure plasma

These plasmas are generated in closed chambers in a vacuum (10-3 to 10-9 bar).

Corona treatment

Corona treatment (corona process) is a physical process involving high voltage and is mainly used for treatment of films.

Atmospheric pressure plasma

Atmospheric plasma is generated under normal pressure. This means that low-pressure chambers are not required.


What sectors are plasma cleaning used?

There are many sectors that plasma cleaning is used for improving coating performance.

They include:

  • Automotive
  • Telecommunications
  • Mobile phone and Tablets
  • Aerospace
  • Military
  • Transport
  • Consumer goods
  • Life sciences
  • LED Coating

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