Plasma systems are plasma generating devices including additional components that together are used to create a plasma for modifying substrate surfaces. In a low pressure plasma system, the plasma generating device contains a vacuum chamber, generator, electrode and controls. A vacuum pump is used to reduce the pressure within the plasma chamber. There is also usually a process gas drawn into the chamber to form the plasma, the type of gas depending on the application and substrate material. In an atmospheric plasma the plasma is blown with compressed air from a nozzle onto the substrate surface. This is done in the open atmosphere without the use of a pump or vacuum chamber. Robotics is commonly employed in atmospheric plasma to ensure a uniform treatment and/or form a desired treatment pattern on the substrate surface.
Plasma systems are used for numerous applications such as adhesion promotion, cleaning and etching. Hydrophobic and hydrophilic coatings can also be formed with plasma treatment.
In the Vacuum Plasma process, the pressure within the chamber is generally reduced to approximately 0.1-0.5 mbar. Next, a process gas is allowed to flow into the chamber at a very slow rate. A voltage is then applied to form the plasma. The plasma process is continued until the desired effect is achieved.
Vacuum Plasma systems are available in a variety of sizes. Industrial large chamber plasma systems can be as large as 12,600 Liters (approximately 3,333 gallons). These systems are custom built to meet to unique challenges of large scale plasma processing. Other plasma treatment systems convey parts on a tray that doubles as the plasma chamber floor. Parts to be processed are conveyed to the plasma chamber, raised into it, treated, lowered and conveyed to the next step.