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Content archived on 2024-06-10

Endless fibre surface engineering by an industrially viable environmentally friendly plasma


Adhesion improvements in biomedical field were fully reached: process solutions are to be implemented on industrial scale. The expected small-scale reactors at low and atmospheric pressure are now available to be utilized by some of the end-users. Process conditions for plasma treatment of polyester and aramide endless fibbers were deeply studied with encouraging results.
The market of conducting (metals) and insulators (polymers and ceramics) endless fibres is in the order of billions of tons and strategic for Europe unemployment and competition. The majority of these endless fibres are surface treated to impart surface properties different to that of the bulk. This is normally carried out by environmentally detrimental wet chemical process. These processes can be substituted by the incorporation of new plasma (especially atmospheric) technology, which is inherently environmentally friendly and economically competitive. The current revival of surface modification by plasma has come about as a result of improved scientific understanding of the chemical/electronic reactions involved as well as the development of manufacturing equipment. Applying this new knowledge to endless fibre production will allow for industrially viable environmentally friendly plasma processes to be realised. Vacuum plasma engineering of surfaces is advancing at a rapid rate. In the laboratory it has been demonstrated how versatile this method is relative to engineering fibre surfaces in dry media and low temperature on the small batch scale.

Nonetheless, none of the above processes have been translated to online large volume industrial production processes due to:
A) fundamental limitations of plasma reactor systems used for the experimentation;
B) industrial viability of the system vs. the existing processes, which are hazardous and environmentally unfriendly and;
C) proven reliability and performance of high volume products in corporating plasma surface engineered fibres. Although the laboratory feasibility and flexibility of plasma technology is proven, no viable commercial equipment for the continuous clean surface engineering of high volume endless fibres is available.

The objectives of the work are:
1. To realise the potential of plasma-based processing for endless fibre surface engineering by developing and demonstrating with prototype equipment and processes. Thus offering a new industrially viable and environmentally friendly endless fibre manufacturing process. This enabling strategy will allow versatile surface engineering and the development of innovativeproducts;
2. To successfully apply plasma processing to an actual fibre composite manufacturing facility and show its reliability in an industrialenvironment;
3. To verify the resulting surface engineered endless fibers in representative, mature (high volume) products in the composite, biomedical and textile industries. This will demonstrate the advantages of this technology over the existing environmentally hazardous approaches.

The project will be conducted over 3 years. It is split into 3 phases:
PHASE 1: Produce laboratory scale solutions (partners 4,5,6) according to the requirement of the end users in the composite industry (partners 1 and 3) biomedical industry (partners 7 and 9) and textile industry (2 and 8). Milestone 1 - chose solution/s for the different users (All partners).
PHASE 2: Apply solution/s to reliable environmentally friendly manufacturing process via prototype/s processing facility. Milestone 2 - verify prototype plasma process/es;
PHASE 3: Produce prototype products with the resulting surface engineered endless fibres and show their equivalence/superiority to current products.

The impact of this project will be to provide the endless fiber industries with a generic, economically and environmentally friendly plasma based surface engineering technology for conducting and insulating endless fibres. This will be applied by the final end users to their manufacturing processes and products. It will also allow the elimination of significant quantities of hazardous gas emissions, reduce chemical usage and energy consumption as well as minimise water pollution. BE97-5069

Call for proposal

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Pirelli Pneumatici SpA
EU contribution
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Viale Sarca
20123 Milano

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Participants (8)