What are the advantages of surface treatment? We’re not being biased when we say there are actually quite a few. Enough, in fact, for the global surface treatment market to increase in value to an astounding $19bn by 2027; a rapid rise from the $12.76bn market value set in 2019. More and more manufacturers are embracing the benefits that surface treatments can add to their products. Let’s explore a little further.
What is a surface treatment?
A surface treatment is a process that changes the surface properties of a manufactured component – or product – instilling new characteristics designed to enhance performance. Furthermore, they are also used to improve appearance, bonding capability, surface imperfections and hardness characteristics, generally while keeping the main material the same.
Keeping the material the same is often very important – it may be the case that a metal body panel requires a painted finish for protection and aesthetics, but retains its inherent strength. Equally, a part may require a treatment to adhere printing inks, but the polymer itself must be used to provide barrier properties or be non-reactive to stored drugs in the case of prefilled syringes.
Corona and plasma are two examples of highly-effective, advanced surface treatments that are commonly used by leading manufacturers in cutting-edge industries including aerospace, automotive and medical devices. Others include electroplating, anodic oxidation, vacuum plating, painting and thermal spraying.
What are the advantages of surface treatment?
Ability to use a variety of materials
Picking a material because it is rigid, flexible, easy to work with, resistant to chemicals or cheap to use are often key focus points. The fact that the surface cannot bond to adhesives or inks should not be a consideration. However, it is actually a big factor. For example, for those looking to move to using polypropylene from other materials such as PC/ABS, surface treatments can take this issue away, enabling you to focus on the bulk properties of the material.
Design the product you want to design
Designers always have to compromise or hold back when it comes to practical choices in taking a product from concept to real life. Surface treatments are an invaluable tool that help with this transition. With stronger and more consistent adhesive bonds, the area required for bonding can be smaller or more precise – as well as more reliable. Therefore the bond can be a repeatable fastening that doesn’t require excess bolts or other fasteners.
Ability to work with other processes
Many companies experience poor performance when moving away from older technologies and techniques, with many still using manual abrasion or harsh chemicals to obtain the desired result. While sensible for small scale production and DIY work, the use of unrepeatable abrasion or dangerous primers and high VOC content adhesives and paints is not the way manufacturing works in the modern factory. Moving to highly repeatable, automated systems such as plasma and corona allow users to move to clean and sustainable products such as water-based adhesives and remove the need for abrasion and harsh chemicals.
Standardising manufacturing processes
Working with metals, polymers, glass, ceramics and other materials together can be tricky – one ink might work with glass, but not with plastics while another adhesive could bond with metals but peels off a ceramic easily. Giving all materials the same pretreatment can standardise production, especially when combined with automation which not only gives a standard result, but also improves repeatability and product quality – ultimately leading to a better product with less failures during its lifetime.
Here at Tantec UK, we have nearly 50 years of expertise in the provision of world-class corona and plasma surface treatment systems. As a result, we’ve partnered with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers in cutting-edge industries including aerospace, automotive and medical devices. If you’re looking for a reliable, trusted provider of expert surface treatment solutions for your products, contact our team of experts today on 01527 304 004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.