Is plasma surface treatment right for you? Maybe. Each circumstance is different, but over the course of my 17 years in surface finishing, 6 with Plasmatreat, I have come to recognize some key situations that tend to indicate a possible fit:
- VOC problems. The EPA just left your facility, and you’re nervous. The agency has told you, in so many words, that if you don’t get your VOC emissions under control there will be fines…or worse. Openair plasma is both environmentally clean and worker-friendly—no solvents, no wet chemicals, no waste stream—so it can reduce your reliance on VOC-based cleaning and bonding processes. It can also greatly reduce the necessity for costly removal of hazardous wastes.
- Out-of-control scrap rate. Your scrap rate is getting out of control but the root cause isn’t presenting itself (there may, in fact, be more than one problem on the line). Plasma is a highly reliable, replicable process that can eliminate the types of “here today, gone tomorrow” problems that drive a quality manager crazy.
- Launching something new. You’re getting ready to launch a new program, and this time you are determined to do it better from the outset: Higher quality, fewer rejects, faster throughput, more reliable process. Plasma could be the “better way” that you’ve been waiting for. While it readily integrates into existing systems, starting from a clean slate is ideal.
- Struggling to differentiate yourself from the competition. Plasma, quite simply, allows you to do things your competition can’t—new substrates, new combinations, better quality. You may even be able to achieve a better result than your competitors for less money than you’re spending now.
- Maintenance problems. Your maintenance crew is tired of keeping your current process running. Some pretreatments and adhesion promoters can be fussy systems. Downtime for service and repairs is expensive. Plasma treatment is a steady-state process built for uptime. One of my customers said his Plasmatreat system runs in “beast mode.”
- Performance issues. Your potential customer just called to tell you your samples didn’t pass their accelerated life cycle testing. Plasma can outperform other pretreatment methods for the application of silicone sealants and polyurethane “form-in-place” gaskets and seals. Because plasma changes substrates on a molecular level, it provides lasting results that other systems can’t achieve.
- Formulation frustration. Your supplier just informed you that they will be “reformulating” the product you source from them (primer, adhesive, resin, ink, etc.). While there have been sweeping assurances that the quality won’t be affected, you’re smart enough to take this with a grain of salt. Plasma is different. As long as there is electricity and air, there will be plasma—and it will continue to work for you as well as it does on Day 1.