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News from Reinhausen Plasma GmbH

Cleaning, activation and coating/metallization with cold-active plasma under atmospheric pressure. The new dimension in plasma treatment

Dec 08, 2009

Reinhausen Plasma will be presenting the first ever cold-active plasma tools at the productronica – the Plasmabrush, Piezobrush and Plasmadust. The innovative Plasmabrush and Piezobrush open up a whole range of new application fields with regard to the pre-treatment and activation of substrate surfaces. Thanks to its dry, chemical and solvent-free coating or metallization of a multitude of different materials, Plasmadust - a world first - enables processes where both quality and costs are optimized and that are environmentally sound. Moreover, applications that were formerly impossible can now be realized.

Plasmabrush – material-friendly pre-treatment under atmospheric pressure

With its patented Plasmabrush technology, Reinhausen Plasma GmbH offers a cold-active plasma tool that combines the benefits of low-pressure plasma processes such as high plasma activity and low thermal material stress with the simple automation of atmospheric plasmas. In addition the specific physical properties of the cold-active plasma generators Plasmabrush PB1 and PB2 ensure enhanced process reliability and efficiency for the surface treatment of metals, plastics (z.B. PMMA, POM, PP, PE, PA 6, PA 12, elastomers and silicons), glass ceramics and papers. This multi-gas capable system also enables the cleaning and activation/modification of materials that cannot be treated with conventional, so-called “cold” atmospheric plasmas. The enhanced rang of applications is the result of lower temperatures, slower gas speeds, higher ability to access even the smallest gaps and gas purity that cannot be achieved with conventional plasma generators for surface treatment that work on the principle of ambient pressure.

The difference in temperature results from the generation of the gas plasma. This is effected with PB1 by means of dielectric barrier discharge (DBD), which causes acceleration of only the light electrons. The result is a cold, non-thermal plasma that has a maximum temperature of 70 °C under ambient pressure. The low temperature means that even very thin and/or temperature-sensitive substrates such as plastics, films, paperboards and paper can be treated harmlessly. At the same time the PB1 can be operated with low gas flow volumes resulting in a laminar gas flow property. The backpressure in front of a surface against which gas flows is so low that even very small and light components can be treated. Thanks to the laminar flow properties the plasma spreads over the surface uniformly even reaching into undercuts and the smallest gaps. Whereby speeds of up to 10 meters/minute can be achieved. The low temperature and patented design of the Plasmabrush prevent local fusings on the excitation electrodes, which in the case of conventional cold plasma generators can lead to metal removal that impairs the pre-treatment. This feature makes the Plasmabrush suitable even for cleanroom applications.

A speed of 600 meters/minute and a path width of 40 mm per nozzle means the PB2 meets the high demands of efficiency and cost-saving demanded in the pre-treatment of large surfaces. Generation of the plasma gas is effected on the inverter principle by means of highly effective, pulsed arc discharges. Whereby, a cold non-thermal plasma is generated whose maximum temperature of 120 °C is still considerably lower than that of conventional “cold” atmospheric-pressure plasmas. The turbulent flow of the plasma can access gaps and contours of down to 10 mm.

Plasmadust – dry coating and metallization process without chemicals.

Taking the Plasmabrush PB2 as a basis, Reinhausen Plasma developed the innovative nano-powder deposition technology, called Plasmadust for short. By means of a combined process comprising cold-active plasma and the addition of micro or rather nano-powders, this technology allows the direct coating/metallization of a multitude of different substrates completely free of chemicals. The coating process is therefore VOC-free, dry and environmentally compatible.

The non-thermal plasmas generated by the Plasmabrush are fed continuously and agglomerate-free through a coating powder with a particle diameter of 100 nm to 20 µm by a specially developed atomizer/conveyor technology. Whereby, an adjustable and uniform particle flow ensures even and repeatable layer thicknesses. The physical properties of the plasma together with ideally adjusted powder feeding make it possible to deposit cohesive layers on even extremely thin and/or temperature-sensitive substrates such as plastics, films and paper with the Plasmadust process. The repeatable layer thicknesses lie in a range of between 1 and 100 µm with a processing speed of up to 150 meters a minute. Porosity can be set to between 1 and 30 percent. Depending on the type of powder, a coating path width of up to 10 mm can be achieved with a plasma generator.

Practically any materials that can be pulverized and melted are suitable as coating materials, these include salt, gold, copper, aluminum, tin, bismuth, tellurite, CIGS, polymers, thermoplastics, glass and ceramic materials. In addition alloys and material composites such as carbon/metal, that cannot be treated with conventional coating processes, can be deposited on substrates such as metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, paper, cardboard and textiles. The versatility of both the coating materials and the substrates enable a deposition process with optimized quality and costs for decorative as well as functional layers and opens up completely new fields of application such as the economical manufacture of generators for the thermoelectric industry.

The significantly lower energy consumption is another advantage of Plasmadust technology when compared to conventional processes. This is the result of the high reactivity of the powder particles.

Piezobrush – compact, portable handset for cost-effective surface activation.

This portable device was specially developed for manual pre-treatment of single parts and small quantities, refinishing in difficult manufacturing processes such as you find in electronic and precision engineering as well as the repair of ETFE films on buildings or painted surfaces with cold-active noble gas plasma under ambient pressure. The device operates at approx. 40 °C with completely harmless induced voltage stress. This means that even substrates that are extremely sensitive to temperature, such as plastic and paper, can be pre-treated harmlessly. At the same time the safety of the operator is guaranteed despite high activation efficiency.

The Plug & Play design ensures simple operation and contributes to the high level of process reliability. The plasma beam can be activated with just a single button on the hand-held device. An integrated controller regulates the gas and power supply to the pen-shaped plasma head in which the noble gas plasma is ignited by means of a piezo ceramic. The multi-functional holder of the plasma head can be used both as a base station as well as a tripod to allow hands-free processing. In the latter case a foot-operated switch is used to switch the plasma beam on and off.

Reinhausen Plasma will be presenting the innovative coating processes Plasmadust and the cold-active plasma tools Plasmabrush and Piezobrush at the productronica in Munich from 10. to 13. November in Hall A4, Stand 445.

Reinhausen Plasma GmbH is a subsidiary of Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen GmbH, the worldwide market leader and leader of technology for the regulation of high-power transformers that is also located in Regensburg. We see ourselves as an innovative supplier of plasma solutions for surface finishing and coating. The company sets new standards in cleaning and surface activation with plasma with the development of its cold-active atmospheric-pressure plasma tools plasmabrush and piezobrush, whose outstanding features include low operating temperatures, slow gas speeds, extreme accessibility of gaps and contours by the plasma and their high degree of gas purity. For the very first time the patented plasmadust process enables energy-efficient coating of 2 and 3-dimensional components made from almost all materials without the need of any solvents or chemicals (VOC-free).

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