What is plasma cleaning?

2 min read

Tantec UK, provider of plasma cleaning systems and surface treatment solutions, explains the process

Surface treatments are an essential part of many manufacturing processes. A large number of products made by industries around the world often bond different materials together, such as metal to plastic. Others require long-lasting, high-quality printing on a plastic surface. To achieve this, the materials used often need to be contaminant-free to ensure an effective bonding process. One way we can achieve this is via plasma cleaning.

Plasma cleaning is the highly-effective method of removing contaminants from a surface in preparation for bonding or further processing. It eliminates organic and technical contaminants such as oils and grease, producing a clean surface in the process.

The plasma generates ultraviolet light that is effective at breaking down the organic bonds within surface contaminants, including oils and grease. When oxygen is also used in the cleaning chamber, it reacts with the organic contaminants, forming waste products such as water and carbon dioxide, which are continuously removed from the chamber during the process.

Furthermore, a plasma cleaning system is also able to work with chemical functional groups including carboxyl, carbonyl and hydroxyl. These can render most surfaces hydrophilic; this is when having a decreased amount of water contact angle – and an increase in wettability – enhances the bonding or adhesion to other surfaces during the manufacturing process.

Finally, plasma cleaning is also highly effective in the removal of microbial contaminants from a surface – this is particularly effective for industries such as medical devices where materials need to be sterilised.

Why use plasma cleaning?

Plasma cleaning plays an integral role in the preparation of surfaces for bonding or further processing. It can be applied to a diverse portfolio of materials – as well as components that feature complex geometries. Ultimately the benefit of plasma cleaning is that, alongside removing natural and technical contaminants, it does not have any kind of negative impact on the properties present within a surface. This enables you to take complete confidence that the component or material still retains the same characteristics – just without those unwanted contaminants. For example, it is particularly effective at removing any outstanding mineral residue from the material’s surface.

One major benefit of plasma cleaning is that it can be used to prepare a multitude of surfaces, including ceramics, elastomers and plastics. It is also highly effective in the cleaning of glass and metal surfaces. It is a versatile process.

Furthermore, the use of a plasma cleaning system also avoids the need for the use of any chemical solvents. Not only is this substantially more friendly for the environment, but it’s also better for your operators. They’re no longer exposed to the hazards that some chemical cleaning solvents pose.

The cost of plasma cleaning equipment is favourable in comparison to other material surface cleaning systems available on the market. Not only is the upfront cost attractive, but maintaining the equipment year-on-year is also small.