Plasma, also known as the fourth state of matter, is a mix of particles which can be obtained by applying a certain amount of energy to a gas.
This amount of energy can destroy the atomic nucleus of the gas particles, thus generating ions, ozone and ionised ozone. When the gas particles stop receiving energy, they recombine to form UV radiations and neutral particles which are typically associated with an opalescent glow.
Many producers of plastic packages, plastic containers or laminated paper boxes need a surface treatment to improve the value of adhesion of the portion of material which needs to be glued (folder-gluer lines).
In such cases, treatment with Plasma is more effective than treatment with Corona, because it allows the nozzle of the machine to be placed exactly on the portion of material needing to be activated, usually along:
- Folding cartons and rigid boxes for several industries, such as high-end cosmetics
- Crash-lock boxes
- Special cut-outs for boxes and packaging.
Plasma treatment allows to save time when working on folder-gluer lines, as there is no need to continuously change the type of glue used when switching from working on plastic boxes or plastic materials to other types of boxes. This is particularly interesting for the paper converting and packaging industry.
Pipes and fittings
Plasma is also employed to treat the surface of pipes and fittings used to convey fluids under pressure at a high or low temperature. Amongst the most commonly found types of pipes, there are:
- Flexible PEX pipes (crossed-linked polyethylene), used especially in plumbing and heating systems, water pipelines, gas pipelines, fire ducts and construction work applications. Crossed-linked polyethylene products expand and contract according to the temperature changes and can resist to aggressive conditions. These pipes often need to be printed and coded (lot number and date of manufacture) and need to stand the test of time, impacts, scratching and the contact with other products which might damage the surface of the material
- Polypropylene pipes used to convey fluids and employed in water irrigation systems
- Polypropylene pipes used to convey sanitary water
Electrical and optical fiber cables
Producers of cables (electrical, copper, optical fiber, flame-retardants and fire-resistant cables) use treatment with Plasma to make sure that codes on narrow surface portions of the cable are not damaged. Amongst the most-commonly-used materials to produce cables, the following can be found:
- PVC, a type of material used to protect the outer portion of electrical cables
- Polyethylene and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) which is an insulating material
- Crossed-link polyethylene (XLPE) which is an insulating material for electrical cables
- Polyurethane, which stands the test of high temperature and is used as a secondary insulating material
- Silicon rubber, which resists well to hot air and high temperatures.
Producers of filters use treatment with Plasma to improve the level of adhesion of materials needing to be glued or coated to other applications. Treatment of filters can prove useful in numerous sectors, such as the food industry or the oil, thermo-hydro-sanitary and medical sector. Some of the most common materials used to produce filters are:
- Glass microfiber
- Carbon-active-based special solutions
For instance, filters employed in the food industry must have a highly permeable outer layer, capable of adhering to the filter’s seals. To achieve the best possible level of adhesion, producers need treatment with Plasma.
Treatment with Plasma is useful to deeply clean metallic surfaces, such as aluminium, which tend to be treated with oil substances first. Particles of plasma, due to the energy input, can break down the oil residues’ molecules on the metallic surfaces to prepare the material for additional treatment.