For those working in major industrial environments, you probably know that the treatment of surfaces is a critical process that must be done prior to applying adhesives or affixing other parts to a surface.
While in the past, cleaning surfaces for industrial applications was done using a subpar process, today the preferred method for surface treatment is done by using plasma.
Due to the nature of most industrial materials, and even with the special function of some materials such as eyeglasses, plasma remains the most effective method to date for surface cleaning prior to adhesion. This is because plasma not only removes microscopic particles and foreign matter with ease, it can also alter the surface and make it more efficient for wettability.
Here, we’ll outline what plasma is, and why it’s the best method for the treatment of surfaces.
What is Plasma?
While many may associate plasma with the human body, or with blood and plasma donations, when it comes to industrial applications (and physics), plasma is entirely different.
Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, i.e., solid, liquid, gas, plasma. It’s also good to note that a fifth state of matter was created by scientists in 1995, and dubbed the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC).
Though plasma may be a fundamental state of matter, it is completely different from the three most common fundamental states. Plasma exists in the form of ions and electrons. Essentially, plasma is an electrified gas with freely moving electrons in both positive and negative states.
Plasma can also be described as a partially ionized gas which holds neutral atoms, electrons, molecular ions, atomic ions, and a range of molecules present in an excited state. This makes plasma unstable in most cases, but it can also be harnessed and controlled to be of use to humans, especially in industrial applications.
What is Plasma Surface Treatment?
Plasma, containing charged particles, creates a high electrical conductivity. With all of the molecules and charged particles within plasma, this causes plasma to have significant internal energy that can be applied in industrial sciences.
When all of the molecules within plasma are tuned using a specific gas and pressure, the plasma can then be modified to interact with surfaces.
Using heat and electrical discharge, plasma is then used to clean a surface of all foreign matter.
Essentially, plasma technology in favor of surface cleaning is used in two forms. Plasma surface treatment (vacuum plasma) is used in an evacuated chamber, and the plasma is slowly released into the chamber at a low pressure prior to being electrified. This is used to treat material surfaces that are uniquely heat sensitive.
Cold plasma is another method used for surface treatment and this process is most generally used for cleaning surfaces, etching, deposition, and surface activation.
Why is Plasma Treatment Useful?
Certain materials easily break down over time. As such, treating the surface of these materials becomes necessary for longer life, and for error-free construction. This process is essential for sensitive equipment such as with medical devices, biosensors, and the like.
For example, material such as plastic often will lose any type of bonding, coating, or printing done due to its glossy surface. Being made up largely of polypropylene, this means that plastics also do not bond easily with other material unless treated.
Plasma removes any foreign matter and acts as a pretreatment for surface bonding, appling glues, or adhesives for further material processing. Once treated, a material can be bonded, coated, or otherwise “finished” using a processing technique.
Additionally, materials such as metal, glass, ceramics, porcelain, and the like can also be treated with plasma making their surfaces malleable for proper adhesion, as well as for removing all microscopic foreign contaminants that can ultimately result in poor production quality.
Plasma treatment simply makes it easier to construct materials and products. The high energy process not only removes foreign matter that can contaminate a surface, it also makes a surface easier to bond. Keep in mind, some of the products that we rely on the most would be unable to exist if it wasn’t for plasma surface treatments.