What is Plasma Cleaning?
Plasma cleaning is the process of removing all organic matter from the surface of an object through the use of a ionized gas called plasma. This is generally performed in a vacuum chamber utilizing oxygen and/or argon gas.
The cleaning process is an environmentally safe process as there are no harsh chemicals involved. Plasma often leaves a free radical on the surface being cleaned to further increase the bondability of that surface.
Low pressure plasma cleaners are an economical way to uniformly, safely, and completely plasma clean. Removing contaminants from the surface of treated substrates without affecting the bulk material properties.
Plasma is extensively used in the circuit board industry, including pcb cleaning prior to conformal coatings and cleaning leadframes during the packaging process.
Plasma processing provides significant advantages over other surface cleaning techniques.
- It works for a large range of materials (metals, plastics, glass, ceramics, etc).
- It’s the environmentally friendly choice. Plasma cleaning eliminates the need for hazardous chemical solvents. Significant cost savings can be gained without the need for having to address the environmental hazards of other processing methods. Oxygen is often a suitable process gas.
- Where solvents can leave a residue after processing, our plasma cleaner is able to provide a thoroughly residue-free end product. The processing eliminates mold-releasing agents, anti-oxidants, carbon residues, oils, and all varieties of organic compounds.
A plasma cleaner is your best solution for the removal of microbial contamination. Many medical and manufacturing facilities depend on plasma as it vastly outperforms aggressive surfactants and organic solvents. It provides a level of uniformity and thoroughness that other sterilization methods simply can’t compete with.
- Our systems are able to produce superior results by penetrating areas that solvents can’t due to surface tension constraints.
- Plasma Etch, Inc. also incorporates a patented temperature control system to ensure that no damage will occur to heat/moisture sensitive materials.
Oxygen Argon Plasma Cleaning VS. A Hydrogen Plasma Clean
Utilizing different gaseous species (oxygen, argon, nitrogen, hydrogen, helium, etc.), plasma can alter a variety of characteristics on the substrate surface. These characteristics include but aren't limited to:
- Modified surface tension/surface energy/contact angle properties
- Improved inter-surface bonding and adhesion
- Hydrogen plasma is extremely effective at removing oxide from glass or metal products
- Altered surface wettability to create hydrophilicity or hydrophobia (increased or decreased adhesion of liquids) – useful in preprocessing, painting and coating applications
- Coating processes: adhesion, wettability, corrosion and wear resistance, electrical conductivity and insulation, magnetic response, reflective/anti-reflective, anti-microbial, anti-scratch, waterproofing, tinting, etc.
Plasma activation is the process by which a polymer is treated to improve its ability to be painted or printed on. This is done by using oxygen plasma to oxidize the outer layer of the polymer. On metals that oxidize easily, argon is often used. This produces not only a clean product, but also an increase in the polar groups, directly improving the printability and coatability of the polymer product. Oxygen argon plasma is also used for plasma activation.
Find your System
At Plasma Etch, Inc., we work hands-on with our clients to provide the most effective plasma cleaning machinery for their applications. Our objective is to be able to provide an affordable plasma cleaner for every task. We build a wide range of plasma systems to plasma clean your products and ensure that your size and volume requirements are covered. Most of our base platforms can be configured and customized specifically to the customer’s demands. Please contact us or browse our systems page to find a system that suits your needs.
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