22. March 2016   11:53 am
Andy Stecher

Andy Stecher
Elgin, IL

Plasmatreat is Playing a Leading  Role in Engine Technology

While many of Plasmatreat’s success stories can’t be told because of confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements that protect our customers processes, one story about how plasma is enabling one of the world’s top automakers produce better cars has made it to the small screen.

Since its 1966 debut, the General Motors Chevrolet Camaro has become one of the most iconic high performance cars in America.  The 6th generation Camaro introduced for the cars 50th anniversary, the 2016 Chevy Camaro, is an amazing display of styling and technology. The 2016 Camaro uses engines built at GM’s powertrain plant in Romulus Michigan.

Plasma surface treatment, supplied by Plasmatreat, is used to clean and activate the surface of the engine’s front cover before applying a sealant that helps secure the cover to the aluminum engine block. This seal is critical to the engines performance and longevity.

“How It’s Made-Dream Cars: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro” is airing on national television.  You can watch this fascinating episode by clicking the link below:

http://camarosix.com/how-its-made-dream-cars-2016-chevrolet-camaro/

While the entire video is fascinating for both car buffs and fans of the latest technology, those who want to skip directly to the plasma treatment process can fast forward to the 9 minute and 40 second mark for Plasmatreat’s performance.

Plasma is a proven process, being used widely in automotive and in engine production, to clean and activate surfaces prior to applying adhesives, sealants and coatings. More recently,  Plasmatreat’s pioneering process PlasmaPlus® is also being used to prevent corrosion.  PlasmaPlus® uses atmospheric plasma to apply a functional protective coating by introducing a precursor to the plasma. You can read more about the use of plasma and the PlasmaPlus® process in engine production in The March 15 issue of Engine Technology International magazine (Page 73) available here:

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e8c2bb3c#/e8c2bb3c/74

We’re proud to be associated with the 2106 Camaro, GM, and a long list of customers who have proven the value of plasma and PlasmaPlus® in a wide range of demanding applications. We’re glad they think enough of us to share the story on TV. —  Action!

Regards,

Andy

 

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Khoren Sahagian

Khoren Sahagian
Materials Scientist

Editorial February 2015

My colleague, Wally Hansen, and I have just released a new review paper that may be of interest to those of you in the aerospace industry.

As you know, aerospace has had decades of experience with metal bonding, sealing, and corrosion protection. However, many of these methods have not lent themselves well to automation, and they also generate environmental waste.

But new applications are emerging for atmospherically deposited nano coatings that can address these shortcomings. These nano coatings are formed by direct injection of select vapor chemistries into the plasma jet. Such molecular surface modifications yield long-term, environmentally stable interfaces for bonding.

Cleaning

Plasma surface treatment begins with a fine cleaning of the substrate to remove loosely bound organic contaminants (on metal oxide surfaces, the oxide layer is either removed or pre-conditioned for adhesion).

Atmospheric plasma jets provide a multi-faceted cleaning action. First, the charged species within the plasma neutralizes electrostatically bound particles. Next, a vortex of pressurized gas blows away unbound solids and oils. Finally, the substrate is bombarded by reactive gas plasma species.

Low molecule weight contaminants on the substrate surface are efficiently reduced into nascent compounds and removed from the material system. This final phase of cleaning takes place on the molecular scale.

Coating

After cleaning, a different plasma jet technology deposits a functional coating. The coating thickness is controlled by parameters such as distance to substrate and speed. Coatings have been developed that simultaneously provide adhesion promotion and corrosion protection of the bond line. Furthermore, some of these coatings act as reliable tie layers, effectively bridging contact between inorganic and organic systems. There is opportunity to replace liquid primers or otherwise laborious surface pre-treatments used in composite bonding.

So far, atmospherically deposited plasma coatings have demonstrated utility as a release layer, an adhesion promoter, or a corrosion barrier. In practice, the plasma-deposited nano coating combines with conventional protective top coats to amplify corrosion resistance and suppress ingress at damage sites.

The atmospherically deposited plasma coatings show substantial improvement in corrosion performance even at a thickness of less than 500 nm.

Conclusion

Atmospheric plasma cleaning and coating can offer significant advantages in surface preparation of metals and composite systems for bonding and sealing in the aerospace industry. The technology is scalable and amenable to automation as it enables high-throughput material processing.

Furthermore, some plasma implementations are able to combine multiple process steps into a single step while reducing waste and reducing operating costs – without compromising performance.

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27. May 2013   4:45 pm
Andy Stecher

Andy Stecher
Elgin, IL

The second installment in this series addresses the opposite of the first, creating a hydrophobic surface.  First we must ask what they are and why such a surface would be desired.  There are a number of answers but as a colleague of mine wisely says ‘Plasma is not a panacea’.

Hydrophobic surfaces are by-definition surfaces with lower energy states than the 72 mN/m (dyne) energy level at which water is attracted.  In essence, this is a surface water does not like to be on.  Droplets may form through condensation or be placed on them directly, but they will not spread.  They prefer their own level of energy and therefor contract to have the smallest contact with the surface they can muster.  This is what you see when water beads up on the freshly-waxed hood of your car.  The water may be held in place by gravity, but like a kid in the Principal’s office, they don’t want to be there.

So the first thing that comes to mind is that these coatings are designed to keep things dry.  That is the ‘How’, and here are some of the reasons why:  By repelling water on the edges of a case, you are keeping it away from damaging what is inside.  This same property can be used to divert small flows to the areas where you want them in micro-fluidic devices, such as medical test apparatus.  They will also resist water-based liquids such as paints or adhesives and minimize their ability to be permanently bonded to surfaces.  This makes a material easier to clean.

The coatings applied using our PlasmaPlus deposition system are based on the same SiOx chemistry used for hydrophilic coatings, with modifications to the process to make the surface energy as low as possible.  In most cases this is not below the as-molded surface energy of less expensive polymers such at polypropylene or HDPE, but it is much lower than the energy levels of most metals.  For this reason, the hydrophobic properties of these coatings are best used to inhibit corrosion.  They can resist the accumulation of physi-adsorbed water which can be a driver for corrosion.  Due to it’s other bonding characteristics, this same layer can act to promote adhesion in non-water-based systems.  The end result is a water-repellent bondline that is also chemically bonded by adhesive used.  This can be used to seal metal surfaces with much greater reliability than just cleaning and adhesive, thus extending part life dramatically!

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Andy Stecher

Andy Stecher
President Plasmatreat USA
Elgin, IL

Editorial October 2012

Dear Reader:

Recently I visited the IMTS Show in Chicago’s McCormick Place, composed of its four very large exhibition halls. IMTS means International Machinery and Technolgy Show, North America’s largest machinery producer and supplier exhibition. Hosting exhibitors and visitors from 119 countries, IMTS 2012, which ran Sept. 10-15 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, covered 1.248 million net square feet of exhibit space with 1,909 exhibiting companies. Over 100,000 people attended the event. Very impressive indead. I remember this show from the early 2000’s when it had moved to the surburbs, Rosemont, IL, and it had trouble filling up a show area that was much smaller than McCormick Place. During my time at the show, a lot of people talked about “reshoring”, bringing production back to North America typically from Asia. The reasons for that seemed manifold but many of the concerns included increased supply chain costs, time for shipments, quality problems, communication difficulties based on language problems, concerns with Intellectual Property aspects, political uncertainties and many more.

Manufacturing in North America is experiencing a revival. Note this just 3 years ago, the Big Three automakers saw their factories running around 50 percent capacity. Now, it’s predicted they will be at greater than 100 percent capacity by year’s end. It’s uplifting news for the automotive industry, and manufacturing as a whole.

In a few days we are celebrating Manufacturing Day 2012 in the United States, another step to promote Manufacturing in our hemisphere: http://www.mfgday.com/event. It is a joyous occasion which will hopefully grow in popularity in the years to come. Check out a participating manufacturer near you and be impressed by modern manufacturing technology.

Still the problem we have in our country is that there is a lack of skilled workers. Since the 1970’s it has become the mantra that “only getting a college degree is the path to a successful career”. That is a failed plan. Less than 50% of freshman students graduate with a Bachelor degree, many of them incur large student debts which they have to pay back, degree or no degree. The latter of course excacerbates the individual situation. A failed college degree leaves the individual with a loss of time, a loss of money and little perspective where to go next in findng a decent paying job.

Learning a trade particularly in manufacturing is a great alternative. Yes, making things has a strong future. Creating value by making something will always be part of our society, part of what we do. Robots and automation have lowered costs and reduced mundane manual tasks in recent decades. That process will continue to increase productivity and lower operational costs. But skilled operators such as for CNC machining are currently in demand but will be in the years and decades ahead.

To compensate the shortfall that built up in prior decades there are many fledgling initiatives to address this problem. One example is the Center for Labor and Community Research in Chicago, IL (www.clcr.org). According to its Executive Director, Dan Swinney, the organization is working to rediscover, redefine and rebuild advanced manufacturing in the United States. Dan is pointng out that over 600,000 high-skill, high pay manufacturing jobs currently remain unfilled. There are pilot programs to alleviate this status. First CLCR initiated the Manufacturing Renaissance Council (MRC). MRC is a strategic, public/private partnership that operates regional programs in support of advanced manufacturing.  According to the MRC advanced manufacturing is the development and production of high-tech, complex products. An economy based on advanced manufacturing holds the greatest potential to create sustainable, long-term economic growth; rebuild the American middle class; and solve the global environmental crisis. CLCR, as one example, is working with Austin Polytechnical Academy (www.austinpolytech.org) to interest young students in learning industry-recognized machining credentials from NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills). http://www.austinpolytech.org/apa-senior-torres-hughes-featured-huffington-post. Illinois based Elgin Community College is hosting their first Manufacturer’s Symposium on October 25 www.elgindevelopment.com/workforcedevelopment.  Furthermore according to the Daily Herald, the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $12.9 million in federal funding to expand Harper College’s (HCC) new Advanced Manufacturing program to schools across Illinois (HCC, Palatine, IL) http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120920/business/709209820/print/.

The Germany Embassy and its consulates around the country have initiated CEO roundtables and efforts to attract companies, especially German companies in the USA in this case, to help train a new generation of highly skilled workers. http://www.gaccsouth.com/en/news/single-view/artikel/ceo-roundtable-for-carolinas-discusses-skilled-workforce-development/?cHash=7db5b5d5b9638db9efba303c33d3ee0d. According to the Embassy website ‘through the “Skills Initiative,” the German Embassy is bringing together German and American businesses and local education/training providers with the aim of developing training programs best suited to businesses’ needs. The embassy launched “Skills Initiative” to identify and spread best practices in sustainable workforce development in the USA.

My company Plasmatreat North America (Elgin, IL, Ancaster, ON, Belmont, CA)  is a strong advocate of “Made in the USA”. Our state-of-the-art equipment keeps production competitive, lowers costs, increases employee safety and is finally very positive for the environment as harmful and costly chemicals are replaced. For example Plasma Plus, a new innovation, just won the German Engineering price at the 2012 Hannover Fair, the largest industrial trade show in the world. http://www.plasmatreat.com/news/72_industry-award-2012_hanover-fair.html

Call me to discuss how we can help make American manufacturing great again.

Till next time,

Andy

 

 

 

 

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Andy Stecher

Andy Stecher
President Plasmatreat USA
Elgin, IL

Editorial April 2012

America and Canada are a truly great countries. Both regions are characterized by truly freedom loving people, both feature strong democracies despite the daily stalemates and political quabbles.  While their economies in general are powerful and have created some of the largest wealth per capita in the world, the recent 10-15 years have been marked by, in my view, myopic activities in industry: Manufacturing was given up on. With China achieving first “most favored nation status” and then later gaining access to the WTO, thus allowing for tax and duty favored imports, many manufacturing companies started to believe that they could not compete with China as well as other countries in the SE Asia region with their low wages and other low operating costs. Comprehensive new supply chain systems were set up, new operating and trading relationships were established, more and more company managers became ex-patriates. Some companies that wanted to continue producing product in North America were forced by large retailers such as WalMart to move their operations to a China location. The common crede became: Operating our production in China is the better way, there is no such future in North America.  

I disagreed from the Get-Go. I always believed that America needs manufacturing. One needs to build things to create value. Our countries cannot simply be service and consumption oriented societies. We saw what happened if when relied on the finance/banking sector alone. It created huge wealth only for a very few and when it all went wrong, we were all asked to pay the bill.

Manufacturing creates jobs at all levels, stimulates personal and professional creativity, helps shape products and processes and let us focus on the future by taking direct control. Plasmatreat works with manufacturers all over the world creating better and more productive operating environments. Here in Canada and the USA we have the potential to reclaim a top spot in the global arena of manufacturers. Designing and building product creates not only possibilities domestically but also sets the stage for successful exports. The USA in particular has been suffering from a negative trade deficit for several decades now. We need to think about reversing the flow of dollars into America not away from America. We need to support the Reindustrialization of America – we need to believe again in manufacturing. Plasmatreat together with our many industrial partners continuously are presenting ideas how to create competitive operating environments right here in North America. Our projects reach into various markets such as Solar, Medical, Packaging, Automotive and Electronics. We look foward to mastering the challenge to compete with low cost production countries, but we believe we can. Do you, too?

Till next time,

Andy

 

 

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Jeff Leighty

Jeff Leighty
Elgin, IL

Dear Reader,

Hello and welcome to the new PlasmaBlog! As the curtain goes up on our new blog we look forward to interacting with you–our readers. Whether you are an existing customer, future customer, partner supplier or just someone interesting in learning about this exciting technology we want to hear from you. Have a question? Possible application? Bonding, printing, painting or sealing problem? Let’s talk!

Each member of our team has specific experience to share. Medical devices, building products and consumer goods applications are my main areas of focus. I came to Plasmatreat from the chemical side of surface finishing so I’ve seen the negative operational and environmental impact that harsh chemicals and manual operations can have. It didn’t take long to realize the huge benefits that plasma surface treatment can bring to the party. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with compressed air and less than 25 cents for an hour’s worth of electricity!

In future “conversations” we want to hear from you. Your comments and questions will bring to light challenges and issues that are shared by owners, engineers and quality managers across a wide range of industries and applications. We can all learn from each other:  How can you eliminate the need for primer in bonding applications. Why Openair plasma is the most environmentally friendly solution of its kind. Who else is using this process.  How plasma can widen your range of substrate and consumables options.

Check back for regular updates.  We look forward to your feedback, questions and challenges.

Until Next Time,

Jeff Leighty
Plasmatreat, Elgin, IL

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