DUESSELDORF, Germany—Before Plasmatreat GmbH was founded by engineer-by-trade and CEO Christian Buske in 1995, coating a surface by way of plasma was possible only in a vacuum.
Buske changed all of that with his initial work on a car headlamp, pioneering the Openair Plasma technology that now serves as the foundation for a company that has grown to 300 employees and saw sales of $54.6 million in 2021.
"There are so many new possibilities—if the industry is able to understand what is possible," Buske said at an Oct. 20 news conference. "About 67 percent of our turnover is polymer surfaces … so the K show is the most important show for us."
Traffic at the Plasmatreat booth at the plastics and rubber exposition was constant and curious on the second day of the show, as technicians and engineers demonstrated the varying sizes of plasma "guns," essentially different sizes of robotic arms that can treat surfaces of different areas.
The tip of the plasma arm—the nozzle that emits the air or gas that "activates" a surface, enriching it with oxygen and nitrogen groups—actually never touches the surface.
What results, according to Buske, is a surface that has been imparted with different characteristics, depending on what a customer might need.
Plasma treatment can make a surface hydrophilic or hydrophobic; clean the surface and remove contamination; or make the surface conducive for bonding or adhesion increasing the wettability.
It works on polymers, metals, paper and glass, among other substrates, as its high-energy levels alter the particular surface composition through nanocoating.