Enhanced Barrier Performance

Pre-Treatment of Polymer Films for Enhanced Nucleation of Thin Film Barrier Layers

Basic polymer film surfaces are less than ideal for high barrier applications. There are two principal reasons for this. First, contamination caused by additives in the film resin (and other sources of contamination) impede nucleation of the deposited barrier layer (aluminum, aluminum oxide, silicon oxide, etc.). Second, chemistry of the film surface lacks functional groups required for optimum reactivity with the film surface. Plasma pre-treatment works to both etch, or clean, the surface of the film and "functionalize" the surface to increase nucleation sites and promote adhesion.

Untreated BOPP

5.7 Nanometers Average Thickness

Treated BOPP

5.4 Nanometers Average Thickness. Vacuum plasma treatment results in a higher density of nucleation sites, which results in significantly improved barrier performance and layer adhesion.


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 2.5 meter wide vacuum plasma treater capable of operating speeds in excess of 800 meters per minute with controlled flow of up to 2 reactive gasses.

2.5 meter wide vacuum plasma treater capable of operating speeds in excess of 800 meters per minute with controlled flow of up to 2 reactive gasses.

Sigma supplies the most effective and technologically advanced vacuum plasma treatment systems for pre- and post-treatment of a wide range of polymer films, paper, and synthetic fabrics.  Sigma's patented vacuum plasma reactor incorporates a unique dual hollow cathode, reverse magnetron, design that directs linear plasma beams directly onto the film surface. The result is an intense plasma that allows for high speed and efficient operation in a small form factor design that can be retrofitted into almost any existing vacuum coater. Follow the link below to begin the quotation process.

Corrosion Resistant Aluminum

Treatment of Vapor Deposited Aluminum for Corrosion Resistance and Better Barrier Performance.

Vacuum deposited aluminum is super-reactive until it has been passivated. Passivation mainly occurs after the aluminum has been exposed to moisture in ambient air - especially during the the slitting/rewinding process. The hydrated aluminum oxide that forms is a poor barrier to moisture vapor and oxygen. This makes the bulk of the aluminum highly susceptible to corrosion. Additionally, prior to exposure to ambient air - while still in the vacuum chamber - freshly deposited aluminum reacts with the back side of the substrate during the rewind process. This often results in "blocking" during slitting, which negatively impacts barrier performance. 

Plasma treatment of vapor deposited aluminum, immediately after deposition, results in the formation of a high quality aluminum oxide layer that works to improve barrier performance and corrosion resistance. improves corrosion resistance and reduces bonding of the aluminum with the backside of the polymer film.  Reduction of bonding between the aluminum and the polymer film, reduces pick-off of the aluminum during slitting.  Pick-off reduction leads to significant improvement in the barrier properties of the metallized films.