Plasma technology from Plasmatreat optimizes additive manufacturing

Improving the quality of 3D printing.

Plasmatreat GmbH from Steinhagen was demonstrating its innovative Openair-Plasma processes at the world's leading trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry in October. In addition to its main booth I65 in Hall 11, the company was also represented in the VDMA Circular Economy Forum. At both booths, the world market leader for atmospheric plasma technology and various partners was demonstrating, among other things, how the quality of components produced by 3D printing can be significantly improved by plasma treatment, while at the same time reducing the carbon footprint of the manufacturing company.

Product samples, tools, products in small batches, individualized items, spare parts and more can be produced in a very short time using 3D printing. This makes additive manufacturing a technology in demand, e.g. to counteract supply bottlenecks. Surface treatment with plasma can significantly improve the quality of the end result.

 Post-processing of 3D-printed components.

Plasmatreat has demonstrated the cell4_Plasmatreat automation solution developed together with KUKA and the Openair-Plasma treatment using the example of a dashboard printed in 3D technology. Benchmarks are set by the icon-based programming of partner FPT Robotics GmbH, which enables simple and fast commissioning, as well as program changes, without the operator having to have special robotics knowledge. The parts were produced by 3D printing specialist thinkTEC using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, which uses a powder bed process. The individual parts are then subsequently bonded with adhesives from the manufacturer DreiBond GmbH, selectively coated with PlasmaPlus and individually digitally printed.

Improved haptics, appearance and bonding

At the booth, visitors expected live how the CO2-neutral Openair-Plasma process significantly improves the product properties of 3D-printed components as well as process efficiency: activating the surface with Openair-Plasma allows environmentally friendly printing and painting without resorting to conventional flame treatment or chemical pretreatment. The long-term durability of inks and coatings can also be further increased by a supplementary PlasmaPlus coating. When bonding products from the 3D printer, the use of plasma technology also replaces the use of chemical adhesion promoters (primers) and achieves long-term stable bonds - even when originally incompatible materials are used. Users thus benefit from an expanded choice of materials.

"3D printing alone is not enough. A strong network of manufacturers and companies that master the upstream and downstream processes is key to the breakthrough of this revolutionary technology in the industry. Plasmatreat is taking a step ahead here and shows that solutions can be implemented quickly and sustainably," says Frank Petrolli, VP Strategic Market Development at Plasmatreat.

Even large components, such as an automotive dashboard, can emerge from the 3D printer and then be bonded, painted or printed - all possible through pretreatment with Openair-Plasma.

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