A plasma surface refers to the surface of a material that has been treated with plasma in order to change the surface in regards to a specific characteristic such as wettability or surface energy. The plasma surface can be cleaned, activated, or etched to modify the material’s surface to meet the needs of a variety of applications. Plasma surface treatments can be used on many different materials including metals, ceramics, glass and plastics.
Plasma surface applications can include processes ranging from cleaning printed circuit boards (PCBs) before plating to sterilizing medical devices to making automotive components adhesive so that they may be glued. Plasma surface applications can also modify surfaces in various ways, either as a preparation to subsequent surface treatment steps, or to directly apply the final layer. Plasma systems are available to alter the surface energy by making the surface hydrophilic or hydrophobic. A plasma system can also be configured to be a plasma etcher or plasma cleaner.
Plasma technology components involve a vacuum chamber, vacuum pump, and a high frequency generator. To achieve plasma in the chamber, there must be a low pressure inside. Then a process gas is introduced and the generator is turned on. This causes the gas to become ionized and form negatively charged electrons and reactive positively charged ions. The configuration for a plasma system can be tailored to meet any plasma treatment need.
There are two main types of plasma technology systems. The first type is described in the Plasma Technology Components tutorial above. The other general type of plasma system is the atmospheric plasma system. In these plasma systems a stream of plasma is generated inside a nozzle and forced out by a stream of compressed air. Atmospheric plasma systems are generally robotically controlled and used to treat fixed patterns on parts. An exemplary application is the activation of automotive doors around the inner edge so that weather stripping can be glued onto them.