5 Reasons to Use Plasma for the Surface Cleaning of Metals

plasma cleaning

Plasma is perfect for the surface cleaning of metals. The cleaning of metals removes surface oxidation and organic contaminants at a microscopic level and is typically used as a final, ultrafine cleaning process for applications requiring cleanliness at a molecular level.

It is important to note that plasma cleaning does not replace wet chemical cleaning in applications where the surface contamination is more than a few microns thick. If the contamination is heavy enough to see, then plasma cleaning on its own will not be effective. Instead, the substrate should be wet cleaned first to remove the bulk of the contamination before using plasma as the final, ultrafine cleaning process to remove any oxidation or residues still clinging to the surface.

Tantec UK & Ireland’s 5 key reason to use plasma cleaning include:

  1. Plasma Cleaning is Repeatable & Reliable

Plasma is a highly controlled and repeatable process which provides a uniform, all over treatment of the substrate or component with minimal operator intervention. Alternative processes such as chemical cleaning are highly sensitive to processing time and chemical dilution or contamination, both of which are operator dependent.

2. Plasma Cleaning is Environmentally & Operator Friendly

Plasma is a clean, dry process generating only low volumes of non-toxic gasses which can be easily filtered or safely vented to atmosphere. No hazardous chemicals which can be harmful to both the operator and the environment and expensive to dispose of are involved.

3. Plasma Cleaning is a Gentle Cleaning Process Suitable for a Wide Variety of Substrates

Plasma cleaning is a highly efficient yet gentle process involving no harsh chemicals, abrasive materials or extremes of temperature. Plasma cleans the surface of the substrate at a molecular level without affecting the bulk properties of the substrate making it suitable for even the most sensitive of substrates. As the plasma discharge is potential free, plasma can also be safely used to clean sensitive electronic components ready for further processing.

4. Plasma Cleaning is a Fast Process

Plasma cleaning offers fast processing times with a typical cycle time in the region of 1-2 minutes. No further steps such as rinsing, drying or curing are required. Plasma cleaning is a simple, single stage process and can be easily slotted into most production processes.

5. Plasma Cleaning is Thorough

Plasma cleaning leaves a microscopically clean surface with no trace organic residue. Viewed under a microscope, the surface of even highly polished metals is highly textured with many peaks and troughs. Depending on the surface energy of the substrate, wet chemicals may not penetrate these imperfections leaving behind contamination which can adversely affect post treatment processes such as bonding or painting. Plasma cleaning is able to penetrate even the smallest imperfections vaporising organic contamination and leaving behind a truly cleaned surface.

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