What is Plasma Polymerization?

Plasma polymerization is the process of using plasma to coat the surface of a plastic or rubber in order to increase its glossiness. This prevents debris from sticking to the surface of the treated product.

Plasma Polymerization
Plasma polymerization is often used to prevent debris from sticking to stethoscope ear pads.
We are able to modify the surface of many silicon rubbers and plastics to prevent them from sticking together, collecting dust and hair, or corroding over time.

Items such as ear pads for a stethoscope are made of soft silicon rubber, which would stick to hair and other debris in the ear.

Plasma polymerization can treat the ear pads to create a slippery, non-stick surface. There are many industrial uses for a clean, slippery rubber surface as well.

Considered by many to be the “green” alternative, plasma is more environmentally friendly than other methods of surface modification.

Plasma does not require the use of harsh chemicals. This protects not only our environment but also your staff since they are not required to handle any chemicals for the plasma process.

To start, we use an RF source to generate plasma which allows us to activate or fragment gaseous or liquid monomers as a way of initiating plasma polymerization.

Polymers formed using this technique are usually highly cross-linked and branched. The polymers are able to create coatings on solid surfaces very well. These polymers are usually attached directly to a desired surface while the polymer chains are growing. This reduces steps such as grafting during the coating process.

The advantages of plasma treatment over other methods have resulted in a recent surge of interest in plasma. The variety of chemical and mechanical properties of polymers formed with our process allows us to apply this technology to many different industries and products. Surface modification and protective coatings only scratch the surface of this technology’s potential.

Our Process

Plasma polymers such as polyhexamethyldisiloxane and polythiophene are used to coat and protect plastic lenses. We are able to easily coat curved materials with good uniformity, allowing the manufacturing of scratch resistant and anti-fogging lenses, including bifocals.

These modern polymers are clean, clear, and cross-linked. Cross-linked polymers are bonded to neighbor polymers with covalent bonds or ionic bonds.

Films may also be used as membranes for separation of oxygen and nitrogen or ethanol and water. More recent research has explored using these polymers for reverse osmosis drinking water systems.

Films are used for electrical applications as well. Plasma polymers frequently contain many polar groups formed when radicals react with oxygen in the air during the surface modification process.

Plasma polymers are good dielectric materials in thin film form. This causes the plasma polymers to have higher dielectric properties.

The most noteworthy advantage of our plasma process is the ability to create films of organic compounds that will not polymerize under normal conditions. Coating thickness is also easy to control using the plasma method.

Most monomers—such as double bond and saturated hydrocarbons—can be polymerized with this technique. Even organic compounds without an easily polymerizable structure can be polymerized. Additionally, there are fewer steps required for our plasma process as compared to more conventional methods.

Plasma Etch provides plasma services on a contract basis to many industries looking to improve the wettability and usefulness of their products. Our process is useful on many rubber and silicon products.

As in our example above, a rubber silicon product may stick together, but this may not be desirable to the end user. We are able to treat rubber silicon so that it does not stick to itself, dust, hair, etc.

History

Deposition of functionalized plasma polymer films was first demonstrated in 1982—just two short years after Plasma Etch was founded. These plasma functionalized processes are still used not only for creating hydrophobic coatings but also as a method of improving the biocompatibility of biological implants.

The films have been used for protein binding and in biomaterials for cell attachment. By using vacuum plasma at low power settings, functional retention can be achieved, leading to substantial improvements in the biocompatibility of some of our customer’s products.

The useful potential of functional plasma polymers is being utilized by industries such as water treatment, hospital care for burn victims, and other large wound injuries.

Technologies such as micro channel coating, nano-patterning, and microencapsulation customers have used functionalized plasma polymers to improve the quality of their products.

Learn More

If you are looking to treat your products in house, we offer a variety of plasma systems. Our BT-Tumbler is especially useful for treating a large number of small products.

If you are interested in the environmental, financial, and safety benefits of using plasma polymerization for your products, click on live chat or call us at 775-883-1336.

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