Plasma in textile technology

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The textile industry uses plasma to make textile surfaces hydrophobic, hydrophilic, or dirt-repellent. By creating additional functions for a textile surface e.g. by means of a fire protecting or self-cleaning coat, plasma treatment can equip fabrics with new material properties. Furthermore, plasma treatment improves the wettability, sliding and dyeing properties of textiles.

Materials cleaning

Plasma technology offers solutions for any type of contamination, for any substrate and any post-treatment. In the process, molecular contamination residues are decomposed as well.

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Activation of materials

Good wettability is a prerequisite for the adhesion of binding partners in painting, gluing, printing or bonding.

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Etching materials

Plasma technology allows for anisotropic and isotropic etching. Isotropic etching is done by chemical etching and anisotropic etching by physical etching.

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Coating of materials

With low-pressure plasmas, components can be tempered with various coats. This is done by supplying gaseous and liquid starting substances into the vacuum chamber.

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Frequent applications of plasma in textile technology

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In the textile industry, it is still common practice today to treat fabrics with wet chemicals, some of which are harmful to the environment. This is true for the whole manufacturing range, from the yarns for T-shirts up to fabric for space suits designed to protect astronauts from radiation or cold. Another environmental issue is the wide scope of colourants and pigments for dyeing fibres and textiles, as well as the consumption of vast amounts of water in the production of textiles. The waste water primarily comes from the following four production phases:

  • Textile pretreatment (washing, desizing, boiling, bleaching, mercerising, causticizing)
  • Dyeing (continuous/discontinuous)
  • Printing
  • Finishing

 

In the course of finishing, the chemicals that are used in the manufacture of the fibres, yarns and fabrics and that are removed from the textile substrate during pre-treatment get into the waste water, as well as the chemicals used in the finishing processes.

With a plasma treatment, the surfaces of fibres and processed textiles can be modified in many different ways completely free of hazardous chemicals.
Hydrophobing via plasma treatment gives fabrics for functional garments hydrophobic properties. A functionalisation of the fibre by plasma causes high adhesion, which can strengthen or even completely replace the effect of silanization.

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