Sep 02 2017

Handheld plasma treatment for surface preparation or bonding

How does it work?

Short version: it seems like magic but the plasma is chemically modifying that top few layers – putting on high energy groups allowing for the adhesive or paint to form a chemical bond.

handheld-plasmaFirst off, what is plasma? Plasma is ionized gas, which is highly reactive. The handheld plasma treatment system (shown in picture) will deliver this highly reactive gas directed to your materials. The plasma will do multiple things simultaneously as you hover this tool across your substrate: 1) clean the surface free of organic contamination, 2) the reactive atoms will insert itself onto the top molecular layers of your surface, and 3) also etch the top molecular layers very slowly.

Yes, that is someone’s hand on the pistol grip handle and it is quite safe to use when you are that close to the plasma. The wheels allow the user to freely guide on a large (relatively flat) surface while maintaining consistent distance between plasma exit and substrate. In between the two wheels, you see a bright strip. That is the plasma glow discharge (it gives off light when it goes from excited state back down to neutral state). The distance and the speed at which you guide the tool will matter and is highly dependent on the material.

How does plasma do those three things happen and how can you tell?

When you do hover the tool over your substrate, you will not see any physical changes (as you would sanding or grit blasting). Remember, this is happening to the top layers, which is very thin and is not visible to the naked eye.

Organic contamination consists of hydrogens and carbons. Our plasma will usually be used with oxygen based plasma – meaning it will generate very reactive oxygen atoms. When the oxygen combines with 2 hydrogens, it will form water. However, the amount is so small that it volatilizes from the surface. Carbon contaminants will form carbon dioxide, which is a gas form so that flies off the surface.

The material does get etched very slowly because the reactive oxygen atoms are not selective. If you provide enough time and enough reactive oxygen, it will etch through almost anything. So damage to the part is not a concern with our atmospheric plasma technology.

Once the part has been treated, there will be no visual change. The quickest way to tell is by dipping it in water (water break free test) or putting a droplet of water down on the area that has been plasma’ed and compare to another droplet of same/similar size down. This is the quickest and most qualitative way to demonstrate that your surface has been plasma cleaned/treated. What you should expect to see is the water droplet sheath out much further on the cleaned surface compared to untreated. Water is a polar molecule and is attracted to other polar components, thus spreading out more on the oxygenated surface.

Now, if you want quantitative data, then I would recommend a cost-effective portable goniometer such as the Kruss Mobile Surface Analyzer (MSA). The MSA can be utilized in a lab setting or on the production floor. It takes a total 3-5 seconds to do the following: place two droplets (water or another liquid), take contact angle measurements, and the software to calculate the polar and dispersive components of the surface free energy.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Richie Woo
Sales Engineer
(626) 410-8491

Aug 15 2017

Surfx Plasma For Balloon Catheter Assembly

From shaft coatings to balloon bonds, the catheter manufacturing process features many steps that can be improved by Surfx plasma treatment. Our variety of plasma source geometries and operating gases allows you to deliver highly reactive gas to your substrate, no matter the size or length. Surfx brings your process out of the chamber, activating polymers and metals in line, at atmospheric pressure.

Solvent wiping a meter long shaft introduces a high level of variability in coating performance. Instead, clean and activate your shafts (again, of any length) using a tubular Surfx plasma source. Feeding the shaft through the source removes surface organic contaminants and oxidizes all 360 degrees of the clean shaft surface. The now-active shaft can then be immediately coated and you can achieve maximum performance of your device.

Activating the interior diameter of balloon necks prior to joining them to shaft is another great application for Surfx plasma. Our low-temperature reactive gas flows into the balloon, cleaning and oxidizing the ID of the neck without thermal or chemical damage. Are there integrated sensors and wires into the balloon? No problem! Thanks to the unique design of Surfx plasma sources, all charged species are held within the plasma source. Only electrically neutral, but chemically active gas is allowed to flow out and treat your part. That means you can treat active electronics and metal components embedded in balloons without risk of damaging the electronics or puncturing the balloon with a spark.

These are just a few implementations of Surfx plasma that can offer vast improvements over traditional treatment methods and enable devices to be constructed in unique ways. If you have a need for surface modification, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. I look forward to offering you a surface preparation solution!

Graham Ray
Sales Engineer
310-558-0770 x112

Jul 27 2017

Best atmospheric plasma on the market

Surfx invites you to compare our product to other atmospheric plasmas on the market. Here’s why we think we are the best:

1) Speed – For treating large areas, Surfx’s AtomfloTM plasmas cover more ground faster than any other competing product. Speed means higher throughput, which lowers cost.

2) Uniformity – Surfx’s plasma sources are uniform across the beam. You obtain precision treatment of your materials with minimum overlap between scans. In other words, more value at lower cost.

3) Plasma chemistry – Surfx’s proprietary atmospheric plasmas allow you to blend oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, or other gases with argon to tailor the process chemistry. Oxygen plasmas are used to activate plastics for bonding, whereas hydrogen plasmas may be used to remove copper oxide from lead frames. The Surfx AtomfloTM plasma tackles many tough materials problems, more than any other competing product.

4) Low-temperature – Surfx’s patented design produces a radio-frequency (RF) capacitive discharge, which yields a highly efficient, cold plasma. Standard water-cooled sources generate reactive gas flows at between 60 and 100 oC. The most thermally sensitive materials, such as polyethylene and polypropylene tubing, are treated without any risk of thermal damage.

5) Control – The AtomfloTM controller is a PC-based system with continuous monitoring of forward and reflected power, mass flow rates, and plasma intensity. Digital mass flow controllers and an advanced auto-tuning matching network provide precision process control within user selected limits. Your parts are treated the same way, day in and day out, no matter which machine your using. No other atmospheric plasma system provides the same level of control. The benefit to the customer is greater product yield, i.e., more value at lower cost.

6) Safety – Surfx’s RF capacitive discharge operates at low voltage with no risk of electric shock. You may run the plasma by hand or with a robot, whichever method minimizes your cost. If hydrogen plasmas are required, you need not worry about fire or explosion. Surfx’s AtomfloTM runs with standard blended gases, e.g., 2% hydrogen in 98% argon, where there is no safety risk.

Based on speed, uniformity, chemistry, temperature, control and safety, Surfx has the best atmospheric plasma on the market. Contact us for a free demonstration. We are confident we can deliver the best solution at the lowest overall cost of ownership.

Dr. Robert F. Hicks
CEO & President
Surfx Technologies LLC

May 13 2017

Plasma coatings for medical plastics

Injection molded plastic parts are key components of medical devices, molecular diagnostics, microplates, catheters, surgical instruments, and other emerging technologies in medicine and cell biology. When selecting a particular plastic for an application, the design engineer has to take into account many constraints, including resin properties, shrinkage, part complexity, wall thickness, mechanical strength, impact strength, thermal stability, opacity, surface finish, color, etc. Once the resin has been selected, and the molded plastic parts made, another set of design issues arises:

A) How do I glue my parts together and obtain sufficient adhesion?

B) How do I achieve proper fluid flow through small channels without trapping bubbles?

C) How do I promote cell growth on some surfaces, but not on others?

D) How do I make surfaces that remain hydrophilic throughout the product’s shelf life?

E) How do I control wetting on diagnostic surfaces?

These issues all deal with the properties of the plastic surface. When you add the surface requirements onto the bulk material constraints the design objectives can seem overwhelming.

Surfx offers a way for you to tailor the plastic surface to the desired properties independent of the resin selected for the injection molded part. We deposit coatings, 10 to 100 nm thick, onto the surfaces where you need to control adhesion, wetting, cell growth, etc. These strongly adherent, transparent, biocompatible coatings give your product the precise properties it needs at an economical cost. Our atmospheric plasma tools lay down these coatings on the surface of any 3-D plastic part, regardless of the resin type (e.g., ABS, acrylic, liquid crystal polymer, nylon, polycarbonate, polyester, polyethylene, HDPE, polypropylene, polystyrene, and polyurethane). Please contact our engineers so we can help you solve your toughest surface challenges.

Technical Datasheet : Plasma Activation of High-Density Polyethylene

Dr. Robert F. Hicks
CEO & President
Surfx Technologies LLC

May 12 2017

Surfx at SAMPE 2017 in Seattle

Surfx at SAMPE 2017 in Seattle

Tired of bonded fasteners falling off during installation? Surfx has the solution. We will be bringing our commercial nutplate cleaner and substrate treater tool.  No more abrasion. No more solvent wiping. Don’t believe us? We’ll show you. Check out our booth F30. For adhesion data, please check out Dr. Tom Williams’ talk at SAMPE Seattle.


Richie Woo
Sr. Sales Engineer


Feb 12 2017

Introducing Surfx Publications Portal

Publications and Technical Articles

Unlock the secrets of a better bond with Surfx Technologies new Publications Portal!

Preview and download full technical articles for free from our collection of over 250 publications. Explore a variety of articles demonstrating the advanced capabilities of Surfx’s variable chemistry and atmospheric pressure plasma.

We’ve got what it takes to help you achieve your goals.

Enter the publications portal

Feb 03 2017

Visit Surfx at MD&M West 2017

MDM West

Surfx Technologies will be exhibiting at the upcoming MD&M West show in Anaheim February 7th, 8th, and 9th. MD&M West is the world’s largest medical device technology exhibition and we are excited to demonstrate our world-class plasma systems at the show. Stop by and see us at booth 254 to learn more about how in-line atmospheric plasma treatment can improve your processes. A Surfx Atomflo 500 plasma system will be operating in the booth, offering you a hands-on experience with the system. If you have some parts that you’re interested in getting treated, feel free to bring them by and we’ll activate them in the booth in a matter of seconds. Our Atomflo 500 plasma system features water-cooled sources and a variety of gas chemistry options, enabling a wide range of surface modifications on thermally sensitive devices. It is highly suited to performing repeatable, non-damaging treatment of fine tubing, membranes, and microfluidic devices.

Show hours are 9:30AM to 5:00PM February 7th and 8th, and 9:30AM to 4:00PM February 9th. The show is held in sunny Anaheim, CA at the Anaheim Convention Center. You can learn about the latest atmospheric plasma developments and visit Disneyland all in one day. We look forward to seeing you at the show!

Graham Ray
Sales Engineer

Oct 13 2016

Air plasmas versus Surfx’s atmospheric pressure argon plasma – Do you want cheap gas, or high yield?

Air plasmas boast low operating costs because they use compressed air. However, to operate this way, they must employ a blown arc, or dielectric barrier discharge (DBD). In both cases, non-uniform sparks shoot out of the discharge nozzle, which may result in non-uniform treatment of your parts. These plasmas operate with high voltage power supplies, up to 24,000 V. The high voltage is required to breakdown the air. Consequently, the plasma sources must be operated with robots away from personnel to eliminate the risk of electric shock. The blown arcs yield faster treatment speeds then DBDs due to the high degree of gas ionization in the arc. Yet this means the gas is much hotter, and can thermally damage or even melt the part.

Surfx offers atmospheric pressure argon plasmas that are driven with low-voltage, radio frequency power supplies. There is no risk of electric shock. The plasma beam is uniform, and provides the fastest and highest level of surface activation achievable. Surfx’s plasmas are cold so that there is no risk of thermal damage to the most sensitive polymers, such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP). Furthermore, unlike blown arcs, the plasma sources operate for long periods of time without needing to replace expensive electrodes.

Now I know our competitors are going to tell you that the argon is really expensive and not worth the trouble. This is simply not true. One of our minibeam plasma sources suitable for treating the same parts as open-air plasmas runs on 10 liters per minute of argon. Assuming one runs the Surfx argon plasma 24 hours per day, 350 days per year, the annual cost will be $8,365 USD (for bulk liquid argon purchased in the United States). In China where bulk argon is a lot cheaper, the annual cost will be $3,024 USD.

Using the Surfx argon plasma, a typical part made of molded plastic, glass or metal can be activated for adhesion in 5 to 20 seconds. At 10 seconds per part, one machine can treat about 3 million parts per year. In this case, the gas cost per part is 0.0028 USD in the USA and 0.001 USD in China.

You have got to ask yourself what is more important, having 100% product yield, or saving a few tenths of a cent per part?

Dr. Robert F. Hicks
CEO & President
Surfx Technologies LLC

Sep 03 2016

Surfx at the Semicon Taiwan 2016 exhibition

Dear partners and friends:

Surfx at Semicon Taiwan 2016We are excited and pleased to invite you to visit Semicon Taiwan 2016 exhibition. Our company Surfx Technologies will be collaborating with our business partner and agent Dou Yee Enterprise. During the exhibition we will be demonstrating various applications of our atmospheric pressure plasma Atomflo 500 system.

Therefore this exhibition will be a great opportunity for potential clients to witness the Atomflo 500 system capabilities. Furthermore our existing clients will get a chance to openly discuss technical issues they have had a hard time dealing with. We will provide solutions that will help you accomplish your project goals.

Scheduling a meeting via email or telephone +886-4-2263 8200.

We are excited and looking forward to seeing you at Semicon Taiwan 2016! Kindly checkout details below.

Date: September 7-9, 2016
Location: First floor. Booth 2622, Taipei Nangang Exhibition Hall.
Address:No.1, Jingmao 2nd Rd., Nangang District, Taipei City 11568, Taiwan Website:

Ian Yang
Sales Engineer

Sep 03 2016

Surfx at CAMX 2016 in Anaheim

Surfx at Camx Anaheim 2016Surfx will be exhibiting at the CAMX show in Anaheim at booth S83. I’m very excited to showcase our newest tool offering: nutplate plasma treater (NPT). Bring your composite parts for a water break free demo! Let us know how we can help you with your adhesion issues.

Scheduling a meeting via email or telephone +1 (626) 410-8491.

Camx – The Composites and Advance Materials Expo
Conference 26th – 29th  / Exhibits 27th – 29th
Anaheim Convention Center / Anaheim, CA

For additional show information go to

Richie Woo
Sr. Sales Engineer

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