Plasmatreat GmbH constantly faces shifting demands as a result of new ideas, regulations, and standards: Customers from industries such as electronics and medical technology are increasingly approaching the company with unique and innovative project requests in the field of surface treatment with plasma technology. Consequently, the capacities of the technology and research center that opened in 2019, which comprises 14 laboratories and various testing facilities, will now be expanded to include a class-6 cleanroom. Additionally, many Plasmatreat products are now also certified by UL, a global independent safety science company. The new certification and the expanded capacities will allow internal development, testing, and even customer acceptance of completed projects to take place in accordance with the desired standards and under the actual cleanroom conditions that will be required for production later on.
“Expanded requirements as a result of new industrial standards, stricter standards for safe and environmentally friendly processes, and the implementation of solutions for highly customized, customer-specific manufacturing processes – these are the challenges our customers present to us time and time again,” explains Christian Buske, CEO of Plasmatreat. The company made its most recent investment partly as the result of a major project for a customer from the electronics industry. The customer had asked Plasmatreat if the company could deliver full systems for manufacturing processes in the semiconductor industry; Plasmatreat agreed to do so and subsequently expanded its capacities in line with the customer’s needs. “For new projects, in particular, the innovative spirit at Plasmatreat, the development and derivation of new or alternative process steps, and the partnership with our customers all lay the foundation for the successful integration of Openair-Plasma into a wide range of production lines,” Buske adds.
“The goal of this project was to develop a system for surface treatment in the semiconductor industry. It should launch operations this year. All internal system tests have to be conducted under the same cleanroom conditions as the system will face during actual production,” explains Nico Coenen, Global Market Segment Manager Electronics at Plasmatreat. The installation of a class-7 cleanroom was required as part of the customer project. Conclusive tests determined that in its final state, the new Plasmatreat cleanroom is actually class 6. Cleanroom classes are defined by ISO 14644-1 standards. The level of purity is determined by the maximum limits of particle concentrations permitted per cubic meter of air, and cleanrooms are subdivided into classes 1 to 9. Purity class 1 is the purest, with the lowest permitted concentration of particles. Class 9 is the lowest purity level. For most ISO applications, cleanroom classes 7 and 8 are sufficient.
For its international customers, Plasmatreat has now also acquired UL certification for many of its products. This will make it even simpler for customers to quickly and easily implement new systems anywhere in the world. A qualified, accredited testing laboratory has certified that these Plasmatreat products conform to US safety standards. This certification lets customers know that the systems have met all criteria for safe operation and that they will be easy to integrate into manufacturing processes.
Plasmatreat views both the cleanroom certification and UL certification as vital components of future projects. The company believes that the resulting capabilities will allow customers to better evaluate the potential for using Openair-Plasma for their own products and processes. This is an attractive prospect for companies in industries such as electronics manufacturing or medical technology, for instance, as potential research and testing scenarios can be run at Plasmatreat at an early stage, making the evaluation of new products much more efficient. “We will make use of these new opportunities for complex projects,” Coenen adds, as prototype production for these projects often needs to occur under the same conditions as will be in place for mass production later on. Consequently, the cleanroom is designed in such a way that even large applications – involving the use of robots, for example – can be tested and implemented.