Plasma and surface technology for plastics

For many applications in the fields of automotive, packaging, medical and electrical engineering, for example, surface technology opens up completely new perspectives for plastics by decoupling the surface properties from the volume properties. Through the specific modification of the surfaces, their range of application can be significantly extended. Plasma technology is one possibility for specifically functionalising plastics surfaces. Characteristics that can be adjusted or customised are, for example, the adhesive, wetting, barrier, bonding and tribological properties.

We carry out research in the field of surface technology with the focus on the following aspects:

  • Plasma process control and monitoring
  • Functionalisation of plastic surfaces
  • Plasma system technology
  • Surface and process analysis 

Ongoing research projects in the field of plasma and surface technology

  • Studies on the homogenisation of large-area coatings by means of microwave-excited plasma polymerisation
  • Setting up and testing of a process monitoring system for determining quality-relevant process data in microwave-excited plasma polymerisation
  • Setting up and testing of a system to monitor the homogeneity of microwave- excited low-pressure plasmas, AiF
  • Determining relevant process data for the online quality assurance of industrial plasma processes in plastics processing

  • SFB-TR 87: Pulsed high-power plasmas for the synthesis of nanostructured functional coats: subproject
  • B1: Plasma-assisted barrier coating of flexible plastics based on the examples of polyester and polypropylene
  • Plasma-assisted high-barrier coating of plastic films through alternating organic and inorganic coats
  • Improving the barrier effect through plasma-polymerised barrier coats on plastic beverage bottles
  • Production of multi-component composites of thermoplastics and elastomers by injection moulding, AiF
  • Plasma-assisted barrier coating of flexible plastics based on the examples of polyester and polypropylene, SFB
  • Functional polymer surfaces (textiles) through specific plasma-polymer deposition of mechanically stable, soil-repellent diffusion barrier coats, AiF

  • Conception and testing of a scalable prototype for the combined internal and external coating of PET bottles, AiF
  • Process for the coating of hollow items (Patent: DE3632748 A1) 
  • Conception and testing of a coating machine for industrial production processes for the plasma outer coating of PET beverage bottles, AiF
  • Conception and testing of scalable demonstrator for the combined internal and external coating of PET bottles

  • Studies on reducing permeation in plastic pipes by internal coating using microwave-excited plasma polymerisation
  • Fundamental tests on the layer growth characteristics of plasma-polymerised coats on plastics, based on the example of permeation barriers, AiF

Dr. rer. nat. Rainer Dahlmann

Scientific Director Head of the Centre for Analysis and Testing of Plastics +49 241 80-25928 rainer.dahlmann@ikv.rwth-aachen.de

Challenges in the treatment and coating of plastics

Interactions between process and functionality

The functionality of a plasma coating is the result of the interplay between a wide variety of influencing factors, of which the coating parameters are only a subset. Furthermore, these influencing factors do not determine the functionality of the coating directly, but initially the plasma properties, which, together with the substrate and the state of the plasma system, have a direct influence on the desired functionality.

Process chain for long-term functionalisation

Through the know-how we have built up in the field of plant and coating development over the last few decades, we are able to fall back on a wealth of experience.

We have developed and deployed a process chain for the targeted development of the plasma process in order to be in a position to obtain optimum results quickly and professionally. 

We develop solutions for the plastics industry

IKV has a well-equipped laboratory for plasma and surface technology and also has many possibilities for surface analysis. Our different plasma reactors enable us to quickly and flexibly treat and coat a wide variety of different product and part geometries extending from two-dimensional substrates such as films to 3D geometries such as cups and bottles. With the help of the available analytics, we are thus able to undertake an iterative layer development. 

  • Feasibility studies for your applications and products
  • Plasma process development
  • Coating analysis
  • Machine development and upscaling for industrial applications
  • Consulting
  • OTR / WVTR measurements: Measurement of the oxygen and water vapour transmission rates through two-dimensional substrates and hollow items (only OTR)
  • Treatment of bulk goods: In a rotary drum, bulk goods can be treated evenly over the entire surface. Applications: activation, etching, coating, cleaning
  • Activation of plastics: The surface of the plastic is activated e.g. in the oxygen plasma or with atmospheric pressure plasma in order to form radical points on which coatings or adhesives systems adhere better.
  • Referral to industry partners

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