Roll-to-roll also called reel-to-reel for
plasma surface treatment applications
Roll-to-roll or reel-to-reel
Roll-to-roll (R2R) or reel-to-reel processing has emerged as a pivotal technique in modern manufacturing landscape to efficiently and continuously produce flexible materials and coatings.
Roll-to-roll (R2R) processing involves the continuous feeding of a flexible substrate from one roll to another, while various processes are applied in-between.
A process that has gained significant attention is plasma treatment. You have two types of plasma treatment at Plasmalex; Vacuum or low pressure plasma and Atmospheric plasma.
Vaccum Plasma into Roll-to-Roll (Reel-to-Reel)
Low pressure plasma processes are very well suited for small and large volume chambers, but offer advantages also for roll-to-roll. These continuous mode processes ensure a constant high quality ignition of the plasma inside the chamber, combined with a more stable plasma. This allows to obtain oil repellency (oleophobicity) level 6, which equals the oil repellency level obtained with continuous wave plasma (the power is not modulated but has a constant value). At the same time, the coating deposition rate is increased. In the same process time thicker coatings are deposited or the coating time can be reduced for a given coating thickness.
Benefits of roll-to-roll/reel-to-reel vacuum
Contrary to what is generally believed, low pressure vacuum plasma, especially in large roll-to-roll equipment, is a very cost effective technology.
As an example of a cost calculation for an oleophobic coating on 40 µm thick non-woven PP, a Europlasma CD1800/600 roll-to-roll equipment is used. The equipment runs 24 h/day, 300 days/year at a coating speed of 5 m/min, with an annual production of 3 000 000 m².
The total coating cost in mass production in Europe is approximately 0.16 EUR/m2. Plasma activation or hydrophilic coatings would cost less. Typical full costing for plasma activation in Europe is in the range of 0.01 to 0.02 EUR/m2.
Atmospheric plasma is a partially ionized gas that contains a mixture of ions, electrons, and neutral species. It is generated at atmospheric pressure and can be utilized for various surface treatments. Atmospheric plasma can be generated using different methods, including dielectric barrier discharge, corona discharge, and atmospheric pressure glow discharge.
Atmospheric Pressure Glow Discharge
Atmospheric pressure glow discharge operates at a higher power and energy level compared to other modes. It is capable of inducing chemical reactions on the material surface, leading to significant changes in surface properties. This mode is employed for applications that require more extensive surface modifications, such as coating deposition.
Atmospheric plasma offers a contactless and environmentally friendly method for surface modification of materials, leading to improved adhesion, wettability, and other surface properties.
Atmospheric Plasma into Roll-to-Roll
The integration of atmospheric plasma treatment into roll-to-roll processing opens up new avenues for enhancing the functionality of flexible materials. The versatility of atmospheric plasma treatment allows for tailoring the surface properties of materials as they are continuously processed.
Applications of roll to roll atmospheric plasma for adhesion
Plasma treatment can be used to graft and coat difficult substrates such as PEEK and PTFE.
Improved Adhesion of (fluorinated) films
Atmospheric plasma treatment significantly enhances the adhesion properties of materials. By increasing the surface energy and introducing functional groups, the plasma-treated surfaces exhibit better wetting and bonding characteristics.
It has a wide range of applications, including photovoltaic lamination for treatment of fluoropolymer to improve adhesion without using reactive chemicals.
Functional Coating Deposition
Incorporating atmospheric plasma treatment into R2R processing enables in-line deposition of functional coatings. The plasma activates the substrate surface, promoting the adhesion and uniformity of subsequently deposited coatings. This is advantageous for industries ranging from textiles to energy production, where coatings can impart properties such as water repellency, conductivity, or corrosion resistance. Plasma technology deposits coatings with a thickness of a few nanometers for hydrophilic or hydrophobic applications. It, for example, ensures sealing to avoid contamination in medical
Plasma treatment offers a primer coating for high-quality film.
Plasma treatment can be used to create an anti drip coating for ETFE greenhouses.
Plasma treatment can be used to increase the hydrophilic properties of substrates.
Benefits of roll to roll atmospheric plasma for adhesion
Plasma treatment offers several advantages for surface functionalization and grafting.
Functionalization and grafting adapt the film surface for high quality bonding with a wide choice of adhesives, coatings, lacquers, … leading to improved bonding for lamination, metallization, printing and varnishing.
Even the most difficult or delicate materials such as PTFE, PLA, PEEK, … can be plasma treated. Plasmalex’ current customers are active in a wide range of sectors: aeronautical, aerospace, automobile, printing …
Highest processing speeds available on the market: we plasma treat polymer film at speeds between 50 and 500m/min for rolls of up to 2m of width.
Plasma treatment is durable. Plasma does not damage the polymer surface. It grafts stable Nitrogen covalent bonds.
Roll to roll atmospheric plasma for release liners
With very commonly used chemistry Plasmalex offers an ultrathin and ultraclean release liner Ximo®.
Ximo is the only atmospheric plasma release liner available on an industrial scale for applications where consistency and precision are essential.
The ultrathin Ximo (1-10 nm) release liners gives reliable and predictable results. Due to highly reproduceable process ensuring consistent quality.
It guarantees consistent and stable release performance for several films and polymer substrates.
The release is smooth without zippy effect avoiding marking of the product and ensuring consistent quality. It is a re-usable, very coherent and anchored coating; keeping its properties after re-use, reducing waste and optimizing production efficiency.
With Ximo there is a minimum of silicone transfer.
Ximo’s release properties are tunable. They can be adjusted or tailored to meet specific requirements, allowing for customization and versatility in various applications.
Moreover, Ximo has a long shelf life of treated products ensuring stability over time. And it is solvent- and catalyst-free.
The coating is compatible with composite applications (pre and post curing) Treatment of both mat and glossy films is possible.
A well-known application of hydrophilic plasma functionalization is used in the production of blood filter media. In this application the PECVD process is typically performed roll-to-roll or reel-to-reel on nonwoven materials such as PP or PBT.
Plasmalex’ solutions include the development of specific chemistry and contract manufacturing services on our own equipment. In partnership with our sister company Spoolex, we can provide integrated production lines that are fully turnkey.
Roll to troll atmospheric plasma portfolio
Unique Plasmalex offering
Plasmalex offers customer tailored solutions for static for vacuum plasma as well as roll-to-roll applications for both vacuum and atmospheric plasma.
Europlasma started building roll-to-roll or reel-to-reel systems more than fifteen years ago. The first of this type was installed in the field in 1993. Since then an increasing number of producers have explored surface modification of industrial textiles by low pressure plasma or PECVD.
Today sister company CPI is specialised in atmospheric plasma.
We have an extensive portfolio of patents protecting machine design, processes and methods for plasma deposition.
Our experienced team of plasma experts ensures the best solution is found for your needs
To allow us to support our customers wherever we can, we have partners worldwide.
Our roll-to-roll machines allow for conformal treatment of up to 2 m wide rolls and therefore offer unique industrial-scale test & job coating capabilities.
Our integrated production lines include automatic loading and unloading, turret slitter and rewinders, and automation of upstream and downstream processing.
We have 6 atmospheric roll-to-roll plasma stations for industrial size testing and job coating with a web width from 200 to 2.000 mm and a web speed of up to 500 m/min. Our clean room is class 1000.
Quality controls include calibrated inks to test surface energy, contact angles test wettability and surface energy and peel force measurements.