Surface Treatment of Metals and Plasma Cleaning using Atmospheric Plasma and Vacuum Plasma

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Plasma Cleaning is a "Dry" cleaning process and can replace environmentally damaging chemicals such as chlorinated hydrocarbons (trichloroethylene). Plasma is ideal for the surface cleaning of metal pressings/fabrications before bonding, sealing, painting and the removal of organic residues from surfaces prior to bonding, sealing, painting, soldering or wire bonding on a variety of metals e.g. gold, silver, titanium, copper or the removal of oxidation from plastics, rubbers and elastomers.

 
Atmospheric Plasma and Vacuum Plasma are a mixture of both charged particles and neutrals (atoms, radicals & molecules) and can react with a wide range of materials. Plasma is created when a gas is subjected to a high energy discharge, the gas breaks up into electrons, ions, highly reactive free radicals, short wave UV light photons and other excited particles. These species when excited by a high energy discharge effectivly scrub the surface to be cleaned. Low frequency plasmas are widely used for the cleaning of surfaces, removing organic contamination from metal, rubber and plastics.

 


Typical Plasma Cleaning Applications:
• Surface cleaning prior to bonding.
• Surface cleaning prior to painting.
• Surface cleaning prior to coating.
• Surface cleaning prior to assembly.
• Creating a hydrophilic surface.
• Creating a hydrophobic surface.
• Friction reduction (cross-linking).
• Removing surface contamination.
• Surface sterilisation.
• Increasing biocompatibility.
• Surface cleaning prior to welding.
• Flux removal.
• Surface preparation prior to wire bonding.
Key Advantages of LF Plasma (low frequency):
• Uniform and reproducible treatment.
• Totally controlled process environment.
• Fast and effective treatment.
• Clean and dry process.
• Low operating cost.
• Low energy consumption.
• Easy to integrate into production facility.
• Envirnonmentally friendly.
• No shadowing.
• Very high energy density.
• High efficiency ratio (Plasma created v Losses).
• Clean room compatibility.
• Versatile equipment.
• Easy to use.


 


Plasma Cleaning

Plasma is created when a gas is subjected to a high energy discharge: the gas breaks up into electrons, ions, highly reactive free radicals, short wave UV light photons and other excited particles. These species when excited by a high energy discharge effectivly scrub the surface to be cleaned. When the chamber contains an amount of an active gas such as Oxygen it combines both a chemical reaction as well as a mechanical bombardment technique resulting in the removal of organic compounds and residues. The hydrocarbon contamination on the surface to be cleaned and the oxygen ions in the plasma react to produce carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide which is simply pumped from the chamber. Inert gases e.g. Argon, Helium, Nitrogen can be used and effectively bombard the surface and mechanically remove small amounts of material.

The effect of plasma on the surface can extend to a depth of up to several microns but more usually much less that 0.01 micron, plasma does not alter the bulk properties of the material.

As a general rule: non-visible yet detectable organic contamination can be removed using plasma, however if the contamination is visible then prior mechanical/chemical cleaning will be required.



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