Cleaning Plasma and where is it used?

Cleaning plasma is used on a number of materials for cleaning the surfaces and readying them for further processing i.e. painting, coating, and encapsulation etc.The cleaning process may include oxygen (air), argon and any other element that meets the surface needs. Plasma cleaning is a method whereby a high energy stream is directed towards the surface that needs to be cleaned.

Plasma cleaning is generally used for preparing surfaces prior to processing e.g. potting, printing, coating, and painting etc.

Plasma beam in action
Plasma beam in action – cleaning and preparing a surface

Among the very basic uses of cleaning plasma, there is cleaning of measurement apparatus, substrates in a background that consists of organic contaminants leading to auto-fluorescence and bond pad cleaning etc. Cleaning plasma is also for removing foreign contaminants such as mineral based and organic machining residue. It is also helpful in cleaning parts preceding coating and then encapsulation along with ultra-fine plasma cleanup of UHV apparatus. Cleaning plasma, is therefore used in many industries, where there is a need for cleaning any surface!

Plasma Cleaning: Plasma is used to clean and prepare surfaces for various manufacturing processes

Plasma cleaning can be used for:

  • Removing surface oxidation
  • Clearing the surface of residues of mineral oil
  • Preparing surfaces of elastomers, metals and plastics
  • Cleaning ceramics
  • Eliminate the need for chemical solvents
  • Cleaning metal surfaces on a hyperfine level
  • Removing organic contamination
  • Surface preparation of glass products e.g. ophthalmic items

Benefits of plasma cleaning

One of the many benefits of plasma cleaning is the fact, that it is operator friendly along with being a technique that’s dry and environmentally friendly i.e. no Trichloroethylene is involved. Plus, the operation costs are low and you’re getting the highest quality of cleaning. It also enhances bonding by promoting adhesion.

Plasma cleaning can easily remove any organic contaminants present on a particular surface by physical ablation, which involves the use of argon plasma or chemical reaction caused by oxygen (air). The process can greatly help cleaning surfaces that are affected by solvent cleaning i.e. their surface tension has limitations. These surfaces are cleaned with the help of micro-channels or micro-scale porosity.

Another advantage of applying cleaning plasma on material surfaces is that it will eliminate the need of using chemical solvents, thereby eliminating the need for storage and disposal of the solvent waste.

The process isn’t harsh like the traditional methods used for surface treatment, which means that you’ll be able to clean a surface without losing many of the important traits of the material lost in traditional surface cleaning. This process is also useful in treating a huge variety of complex surfaces that may include optical fibers, glass slides, metal surfaces like gold, semiconductors and oxides etc.