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Adhesion Promotions

Adhesion Promotions

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Published by Bhupendra Singh

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Published by: Bhupendra Singh on Nov 08, 2008
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THE ECONOMIC TIMES
POLYMERS
 
FEBRUARY - MARCH, 2008
 
37
COVER STORYCOVER STORY
 
TECHNOLOGY
Introduction
Polyolefin’s constitute the most often surfacetreated materials. The good chemical resis-tance and the non-polar nature of thepolyolefin’s surface prevent a good adhesionof the printing ink as well as labels. Amongstpolyolefin’s polyethylene has the lowest sur-face free energy of 31 dynes/cm @20°C. Ma-terials with surface energy below 33 dynes/ cm require pre-treatment and above 36-38dynes/cm may usually be directly printed. Useof corona, flame and other methods increasesthe surface energy level in excess of 42 dynes/ cm. Ideally, the surface energy of the plasticshould be 7 to 10 dynes/cm higher than thesurface tension of the solvent or liquid. Forexample, a printing ink having a surface ten-sion of 30 dynes/cm would not wet to a ma-terial having a surface energy less than 37-39dynes/cm. Hence polyolefin’s are frequentlysubjected to surface treatment to improvetheir bonding characteristics.
Need for Printing on Plastics
One important reason is to produce agreater range of multicolor decorationwhere single color moulding is more eco-nomic.
Printing of plastics offers greater scopeto the designer in selective decoration, asmore then a single color may be used.
Printing can be used to alter the surfaceappearance giving a less plastic imageby reducing the gloss.
Certain decorative effects can be con-ferred which are difficult to produce bymoulding in colours, such as polychro-matic, wood grained and pearl finish.
Light colored finishes are obtained fromdark colored resin such as phenolics.
Plastics are painted for covering the de-fects such as flow lines, glass fibers in re-inforced plastics.
Self-coloured mouldings are more expen-sive if a range of colors is necessary. Main-taining the continuity in the color andlow gloss is difficult.
It also permits the use of mixed residuesof regenerated plastics of various colors.
It adds eye appeal to the articles.
Printing reduces the electrostatic chargeand hence dusts attraction on the surface.
AdhesionPromotionAdhesionPromotion
by SurfaceModification ofPolymerby SurfaceModification ofPolymer
Bhupendra Singh
Product ManagerBloom Packaging Pvt. Ltd.,Mumbai
The most often used methods are solvent cleaning and etching, corona discharge for films, flametreatments for moulded articles, plasma treatment and UV treatment method.
 
38
 
THE ECONOMIC TIMES
POLYMERS
 
FEBRUARY - MARCH, 2008
Ultra violet resistance of the plastics canbe improved for exterior applications.
Methods for Surface Modifications
Various methods are used for the surfacemodification such as
Solvent cleaning and etching
Mechanical abrasion
Chemical etching
Additives
Flame treatment
Corona discharge
Plasma treatment
Ultra violet irradiationThe most often used methods are sol-vent cleaning and etching, corona dischargefor films, flame treatments for moulded ar-ticles, plasma treatment and UV treatmentmethod.
Solvent Cleaning and Etching
Solvent cleaning and etching is one of themost common techniques of surface treat-ment. The surface of plastic is normally con-taminated with grease and dust which comesfrom various sources such as mold releaseagent, rust preventives, lubricants, dust etc. Itis because of these foreign matters, adhe-sion of paint, ink or adhesive to the plasticsurface becomes very difficult.To improve the adhesion of the paint, inkor adhesive, the surface of the substrate iscleaned using solvents such as isopropyl al-cohol (IPA), acetone, methanol, hexane, ethylacetate, toluene and other organic solvents.During solvent etching some surfacechange also takes place along with removalof contaminants. Solvent swells the amor-phous and low molecular weight impuritiesand portions of polyolefin surfaces, makingit susceptible to the penetration of ink orcoating. LDPE, HDPE and PP surfaces can beetched by immersing it in hot solvent at 80°C.
Limitations of Solvent Cleaning Method
Many organic solvents are toxic
Most of the solvents are flammable
Some organic solvents can dissolve theplastic
Surface Treatment by Corona Discharge
Corona discharge treatment is the mostwidely used method for improving the ad-hesion properties of the plastic films such aspolyolefin films prior to lamination. This treat-ment is used for various polymers such aspolyolefins, polyfluorocarbons, polyesters,polyvinylchloride, silicone, nylon and others.Corona discharge treatment incorporatesvarious functional groups such as carbonylgroups at the polymer surface.A corona discharge system consists of agenerator, transformer and treater.The generator takes in low voltage atlower frequency of 50 Hz and amplifies thefrequency to higher value of 25-30 kHz. Trans-former increases the voltage to the requiredvoltage in the range of 15000-30000V. Thetreater consists of electrode, dielectric coverand grounded metal body. The electrode inthe form of a solid bar or segmented elec-trode is used. Segmented electrode minimisesthe sparking. A schematic diagram of a seg-mented ceramic electrode corona treater isshown in Fig.1.
Mechanism
Since the voltage used is A.C., the electrodesbecome alternatively positive and negativewith respect to each other. The electrons andprotons start moving and changing direc-tions. Electrons, protons, excited atoms andions in the form of corona discharge breakC-C and C-H bonds on the plastic surfaceforming radicals. These radicals react withoxygen and nitrogen in air and forms polargroups on the plastic surface.Many factors play an important role ineffective corona discharge treatment such aspower supply, frequency, air gap, dielectricmaterial & discharge electrode configuration.Corona discharge treatment lowers theheat sealing temperature of many polymers.Polyethylene treated by corona dischargemethod can be heat-sealed at temperaturesas low as 75°C; while treated polyethyleneterphthalate film can be heat sealed at 140°C.
Problems Encountered with Corona Dis-charge Treatment
Greater level of treatment increases theblocking tendency of the film.
Contact of Corona discharge treated filmand metal should be avoided as it erasesthe treatment on the surface.
Additives such as slip additives and otherprocessing aids reduces the treatmentover time as these additives migrate to
Fig. 1: A schematic diagram of a segmented ceramic electrode corona discharge treater 
Polyolefin's constitutethe most often surfacetreated materials. Thegood chemicalresistance and thenon-polar nature of thepolyolefin's surfaceprevent a goodadhesion of theprinting ink as well aslabels.
 
THE ECONOMIC TIMES
POLYMERS
 
FEBRUARY - MARCH, 2008
 
39
the surface and partially mask the polargroups formed during the treatment.Hence the corona discharge treatmentshould be carried out just before the print-ing operations.The corona treatment system is intro-duced into the film blowing equipment usu-ally at the top of the tower as shown in theFig.2. Some systems incorporate the treat-ment midway up the tower or at the base.
Flame Treatment
Flame treatment is widely used for surfacemodification of polyolefin surfaces mainlyto improve printability or paintability. Basi-cally, the process consists of applying heat tothe outer surface of polyolefin’s. The surfaceshould be hot enough to suffer modifica-tion while the body remains at much lowertemperature. Sheeting’s below a thickness of0.6 mm is usually treated by corona dischargewhile flame treatment is used for heaviersheets.Heat can be applied by means of:
Hot air
Infra red radiation
FlamingThe flaming techniques are very popularand used extensively for treating blow mold-ings prior to printing, labeling, or the appli-cation of other decorative matter.
Mechanism
Flame contains excited species of O, NO, OH,and NH, which can remove hydrogen fromthe surface. The oxidation that follows ispropagated by a free radical mechanism.Equations for the reactions, which can occurduring simple thermal oxidation of hydro-carbon takes, place in three steps: Initiation,Propagation and Termination.Surface of the polymer exposed to simplethermal oxidation greatly affects ease of oxi-dation. Highly branched polymers oxidise ata much more rapid rate than a linear poly-mer such as polyethylene, unless thebranches are sufficiently bulky to stericallyhinder oxidation. If the polymer contains bothaliphatic and aromatic moieties; only the ali-phatic portion is oxidised.
Flame Treatment of Moulded Article
Light surface oxidation by flame treatmentof moulded article with a non-luminousflame. The surface is first thoroughly cleanedto remove dirt and grease. The apparatusconsists of the one or more flames, which areheld at a fixed distance from the sample andscanned over it at controlled speed.To treat the large areas or complicatedshapes special multiple or robotized systemshave been in use.
Flame Treatment Apparatus for Polymer Films
A schematic representation for the flametreatment of polymer film is as shown in theFig.3This equipment resembles the coronatreatment apparatus in that the central drumis used as the base for the plastic sheeting.The plastic goes over the drum and under aseries of burners similar to those found in agas furnace.
Factors Affecting the Correct Flaming Treat-ment
A good non-luminous fishtail flameshould be used. The use of oxygen in-stead of air tends to make the treatmentmore effective.
The surface to be treated should be lo-cated on the side of the blue part of theflame so that the flame impinges on thesurface well above the blue portion. In-ner core length should be around 0.25”to 0.75” while the distance from inner coretip to the surface about 0.25”.
Flame contact time: Flame contact time isgenerally a fraction of second but de-pends on:
Flame intensity
Fig. 2: Corona treatment system for film blowing plant Fig.3: Diagram of a flame treater for the polymer films 
Plasma treatment is avery efficient methodfor modifying plasticsurfaces. Polyethylenesurfaces can beeffectively treated byinert gas plasmagenerated by a radiofrequency field.

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