Japan: Convincing performance at the Automotive World / Lightweight Technology Expo 2017

900 exhibitors and 35,000 visitors in just three days. This was the final tally at the close of the 9th Automotive World / 7th Lightweight Technology Expo on 20 January at the Tokyo Big Sight international congress center. Plasmatreat Japan was one of the successful participants.

The Nihon Plasmatreat Inc. tradeshow team: Misako Murayama, Yuji Tanaka, Hideto Niwa, Wataru Mizuno and Takeharu Aoki (from left to right)

Lightweight materials are becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry. They are used mainly to reduce weight and thus save fuel without compromising on safety and comfort. Demand for mechanical bonding technologies and welding is declining in modern vehicle manufacturing as adhesive bonding takes over. Yet despite the use of high-performance industrial adhesives, the surfaces of lightweight materials usually require a pretreatment to even bond in the first place. Nihon Plasmatreat Inc, Tokyo, addressed this very issue in their tradeshow presentation this year.

Plasma LIVE

A live demonstration of the plasma pretreatment process is not just a thrilling experience for tradeshow visitors, it is also an ideal opportunity for them to discover for themselves just how effective this sustainable process is. As already witnessed on other Plasmatreat tradeshow stands around the world, the LIVE-LAB once again proved a major draw.

Hideto Niwa, Vice President of Nihon Plasmatreat, summed up as follows: "This live demonstration has two objectives: To prove the optimal wettability of a plasma-treated surface and to prove that its adhesive characteristics have been enhanced."

Visitors to the stand could choose from eight different test materials: Stainless steel, titanium, polypropylene, aluminum, glass, polycarbonate, polyamide and silicone rubber. Each chosen test specimen was first cleaned and activated with plasma on one half only and then sprayed all over with water. Residual water droplets on the untreated half were clearly visible. In contrast, the other half had a homogenous film of water – proof of complete wettability.

Proof of surface wettability: The plasma-treated specimen is manually sprayed with water.
Clearly visible: Unlike the untreated surface (right), the plasma-treated side (left) has a homogenous film of water

The aim of the second part of the live demonstration was to compare the adhesive bond of epoxy-bonded test specimens that had been pretreated prior to adhesion with ones that had not been treated. Visitors were able to measure the tensile strength themselves and here too, the evidence was compelling: The plasma-treated materials exhibited a far higher tensile strength than the untreated parts.

These findings are demonstrated by this example: The adhesive bond of an untreated polypropylene (PP) test specimen failed at 141.8 Newtons while the plasma-treated PP test specimen was able to withstand a tensile force of 502.9 Newtons. The adhesive bond of the plasma-treated polypropylene was so strong that when a mechanical force was applied to the bonded parts, the attachment hole in test specimen stretched (see photo) before the cohesive fracture occurred.

Tensile strength test: Whilst the adhesion of the untreated polypropylene (PP) test specimen failed at 141.8 Newtons (left), the plasma-treated PP test specimen was able to withstand a tensile force of 502.9 Newtons (right).

Review

Niwa was very satisfied with the company's performance at the show: "The automotive industry is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that a sustainable pretreatment process like atmospheric pressure plasma technology offers over wet-chemical processes such as solvent-based cleaners and primers. We are delighted by the high level of interest and the growth in visitor numbers, which was up 50 percent compared with the previous year."

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