Plasma Automotive Bonding Lasts a Lifetime

plasma automotive bonding

Have you ever wondered how the paint sticks to your car so well? Or, what helps it’s 30,000 parts stay connected over the course of its average 11-year life? The automotive industry relies on innovative manufacturing practices to help ensure each vehicle and its surfaces are finely tuned to run, look, and feel the way you expect them to. One such automotive bonding practice uses Plasmatreat, a plasma surface treatment that increases the surface energy of plastics for long-term bonding coatings or adhesives.

Plastics, which are increasingly used for lightweighting, have a typically lower surface energy than other materials (think: insulator), making it more challenging for manufacturers to bond parts together, and lay varnish on them for that most attractive Class-A finish. Static charges can build up that attract dust or particles, often too small to see. With plasma treatments, plastics are not only cleaned of dust and dirt particles that can interfere with bonding, but they gain surface energy (“ionizing” the surface), which helps fuse adhesives and parts more efficiently on the assembly line. Automotive coatings and varnish can sometimes last for 12 years or 200,000 miles due to the bonding capabilities of plasma treatment.

plasma automotive bonding
So what is plasma and how does it work? Plasma is the fourth state of matter after solid, liquid and gas. When extreme energy is applied to certain gases, electrons separate and align, allowing electricity to pass through that “course” of electrons, the way lighting finds jagged alignments of “extra” electrons in clouds as it reaches to the  ground. When concentrated through a nozzle small amounts of energy can be focused efficiently. These energetic ionized plasma particle beams clean and ionize plastic surfaces at the microscopic level. When you know the surface has a particular electro-conductivity, you can make the adhesive or other part “strongly attractive” to it, fostering a surer bond. The charges pull the varnish, glue, paint or adhesive literally closer to the surface. In this way, via plasma treatment, it becomes possible to enhance the bonding process of a substrate and another layer. Plasma coating technology is now increasingly used for bonding dissimilar materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum as part of lightweighting initiatives.

Plasma treatments can also be associated with lower production costs and fewer emissions for automotive manufacturers, which means a better environment and more affordability for both consumers and dealers. Plasma surface treatments diminish the necessary amount of adhesives needed for automotive bonding and reduce the time needed to clean and strengthen plastics, saving material costs and shortening the production process. That’s a big deal if you are making 300,000 vehicles a year!

That’s how your automotive color and paint, adhesive, varnish or glazing hugs the surface better and stays there longer. Thank you, plastics technology. (See how great adhesion applies to multi-material reversible bonding.)

Source courtesy FuseSchool – Global Education: An Elementary explanation of bonding

Source courtesy Plasmatreat GmbH Steinhagen: Here’s how Plasma can reduce material costs, improve productivity and improve product performance. 

Padding in the passenger compartment needs to stick during an accident.