I was intrigued by a presentation I saw by the RAMPF Group. The RAMPF Group, based in Wixom, Michigan supplies polyurethane, epoxy, and silicone for sealing, foaming, bonding, casting, and coating. They also manufacture mixing and dispensing systems for applying single- and multi-component polymers in the automotive, electronics, and other high tech industries. Today, RAMPF ships over 1,000,000 parts a year to automotive assembly lines. So, the people at RAMPF understand the importance of thinking through the whole process.
RAMPF appears concerned about two trends that affect their reactive resins business. First, is the continuous raising-of-the-bar when it comes to performance specifications. Their OEM customers are making products that have better UV stability, offer better thermal and chemical resistance, and provide better mechanical properties.
Second, the increased use of plastics and composites driven by the desire to reduce weight, has also been accompanied by the greater use of more recycled materials to cut costs, and processing new engineered substrates before they are properly tested. This means their customers are often using materials that are more and more “undefined,” and changing substrates without testing the effect on important properties like adhesion. RAMPF claims that 90% of the reported problems relating to joining are due to problems with the process.
Plasmatreat agrees with these observations. And although we recommend thorough process testing before implementing any new process, plasma also provides some safeguard against potential problems from day-to-day changes in process parameters.
In many cases, adding plasma surface conditioning enhances substrate performance and provides more process latitude. Thus plastic and composite part manufacturers have found they can improve the reliability and consistency of their process by using plasma. Our process engineers work customers in our labs, and in their plants lines to establish, optimize and find the limits of their processes.
In the 1970’s, Fram Oil Filter ads featured an experienced car mechanic who told us we should protect our car by investing in a better oil filter rather than face massive repairs by cutting corners. Perhaps the very companies who make those cars should heed the same warning. As the man said – “You can pay me now, or pay me later.”