Advancing In-Line with Cold Flame Technology

From flame plasma to Corona discharge, there is a variety of surface pretreatment processes used in the plastics industry to improve the adhesion properties of polymer materials. Utilized with very specific applications, each process has its own set of advantages and limitations. Adding to the mix of available surface treatment methods is a new cold flame technology being introduced by Lectro Engineering Company, St. Louis, MO.

The new LT Cold Flamer is said to be the first true replacement of flame treaters for the in-line surface treatment of plastics. According to Lee Hyde, COO, Lectro Engineering, “The LT Cold Flamer is already in production at a large container manufacturer in the U.S. and is treating a number of different plastics containers very successfully.”

The LT Cold Flamer is most closely linked to the Corona method of plastic surface treatment. The main difference between the two is that no grounding electrode is needed for treatment with the Cold Flamer. The Cold Flamer creates a corona plume that contacts the plastic surface and increases the surface tension level of the plastic, thereby allowing for better adhesion. Using indirect electrode technology, the LT Cold Flamer is designed to fit in the same space as a flame unit making the change quick and easy.

In the past, cost was one limitation of cold gas plasma technology. However, the initial cost of the Cold Flamer is less in comparison to other non-flame treating methods. In addition to the initial cost of the equipment, extensive cost savings can be realized such as lower insurance premiums due to the removal of an open flame in the plant and the elimination of scraped parts. Other savings include lower operating costs, decreased utility bills due to a climate-controlled facility, and greater efficiencies with quick changeovers from one product to another.

Indirect electrode as a means of surface treating plastics has been in use in limited applications for years. Lectro has taken this proven means of treatment and its knowledge in the plastic treating industry to design the ultimate replacement for flame treaters. Besides cost, the system offers several other advantages including its portability —it can be moved from one line to another easily. Additionally, the Cold Flamer produces no heat damage to the treated part and no pin holing of plastics or foams.

There are thousands of applications for the LT Cold Flamer worldwide in the container industry alone. An in-line container application is perfect for the Cold Flamer. Different sizes and shapes are no problem and high production rates can be achieved with no loss of product. “Currently, we are achieving one hundred percent treatment with both PE and PP containers at high production rates,” states Hyde. “Moreover, the line has been switched over numerous times from one container to another with minimal downtime for changeover.” In addition, the system will work well in the treatment of thick flat objects, as well as thin.

Two of the most important assets that any company has are its employees and the facility in which they work. The Cold Flamer eliminates the possibility of fires and can reduce injuries, thereby providing the operator the safest means of surface treatment without sacrificing profits.

The LT Cold Flamer will be on display in the Lectro Engineering Booth 870 in the South Hall at NPE 2003. For more information, contact Lectro Engineering 314/567-3100 or visit: www.lectrotreat.com.