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Home  > Raw materials & technologies  > Technologies  > Functional coatings  > Plasma system enables functional coatings

Friday, 20 September 2019
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Raw materials & technologies, Technologies, Functional coatings

Plasma system enables functional coatings

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Using a new plasma coating process, functional coatings can be applied more precisely and cost-efficiently.

Dr Jörg Ihde and Dr Uwe Lommatzsch (from left to right) have developed a new coating process for functional nano-layers, using a plasma nozzle that works at atmospheric pressure

Source: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Dr Jörg Ihde and Dr Uwe Lommatzsch (from left to right) have developed a new coating process for functional nano-layers, using a plasma nozzle that...

In industry today, wet chemical processes or vacuum plasma processes are primarily used for coating applications. Both have their drawbacks. Vacuum units are expensive, limited to smaller components, and applying a coating takes a relatively long time. Wet chemical processes often involve high resource and energy consumption with the corresponding environmental damage and can also cause difficulties in the handling of material combinations for lightweight construction.

Challenge: open atmosphere

There has to be another way,” Dr Jörg Ihde and Dr Uwe Lommatzsch, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen, Germany, thought. Together with Plasmatreat GmbH, the IFAM team developed a new kind of plasma coating process that works at ambient pressure, that is to say, in an open atmosphere. "And that poses a major challenge," explains Jörg Ihde. "As the pressure is more than 10,000 times higher and because of the absence of a vacuum reactor, we had to stop unwanted particles from forming and embedding in the coating.” That was the key to developing robust and efficient industrial processes using the new plasma system.

Central element: plasma nozzle

The central element is a plasma nozzle. The nozzle is no bigger than a typical spray can. Yet it contains a highly complex coating system. The use of a nozzle allows the coating to be applied very precisely and only where it is needed, thus conserving resources. "We can control the processes so that the same nozzle can be used to apply coatings with  various functionalities, for corrosion protection or for increasing or reducing adhesion, for instance,” adds Jörg Ihde. Only very small amounts of coating material are required and practically all materials and material combinations can be coated.

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