Ecoclean Combines Wet Cleaning and Plasma Treatment in Single Machine
Advantages of integrated plasma cleaning process in ultrafine degreasing include operating flexibility, reduced process times, low investment and operating costs, and a compact equipment build.
Manufacturers are requiring increasingly stringent cleaning standards and, in some cases, activated part surfaces in order to prevent quality problems in downstream processes and ensure flawless product performance.
The search to meet those surface treatment standards led Ecoclean to develop a combination cleaning process that merges wet chemical cleaning with a subsequent low-pressure plasma treatment in a single machine.
“We can incorporate plasma cleaning in the cleaning process in the same machine,” says Sandro Siminovich, Ecoclean’s U.S. director of sales. “That will eliminate material handling and give it a more flexible and agile manufacturing process combined with excellent cleaning results.”
In cases where results of degreasing with pure solvent is not sufficient – impairing the quality of subsequent processes – a plasma cleaner is able to provide a residue-free end product. Low-pressure plasma cleaners can uniformly, safely and completely remove all organic matter or contaminants from the surface of treated substrates without affecting the material properties. “This will give customers very high surface cleaning,” says Siminovich. “With that, you avoid warranty costs and improve upstream processes.”
The new process also eliminates unnecessary handling. “When we’re talking about such high surface cleaning requirements, avoiding touching the parts and avoiding any material handling is crucial to maintaining the cleanliness of the product,” says Siminovich.
Integrating plasma treatment into existing lines can result in time, space and financial savings. Because virtually all components needed for this cleaning technology (vacuum, measuring and control equipment) are already in place in a manufacturer’s wet chemical cleaning machines, the additional cost and engineering effort for integration can be modest. “This is just one step of our cleaning machine,” says Siminovich. “Other companies offer it as a standalone, so they would need other machines to clean and still do their other processes.”
Plasma treatment can also improve bondability by leaving a free radical on the surface being cleaned. Thanks to the combination wet process and plasma cleaning operation, the free surface energy that is key to achieving an optimum adhesion strength can be raised to 50 to 80 mN/m in one single process step. “On a normal machine, you can get around 36-38 dyne. With a little bit better machine, you can get 40-42 dyne,” says Siminovich. “With this machine, we get up to 80 dyne. It’s a big jump.”
Plasma cleaning is environmentally safe as there are no harsh chemicals involved. It also works for diverse applications with a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, glass, ceramics and more.
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