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Polymeric nanocoating for tight and strong adhesion between challenging combinations of metals and plastics

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AdheSurf (Polymeric nanocoating for tight and strong adhesion between challenging combinations of metals and plastics)

Reporting period: 2017-12-01 to 2018-05-31

Bonding of plastics and other base materials like metal, glass and carbon has a huge, but often overseen impact on our daily lives. We find such bonding in numerous objects and devices (e.g. medical devices, cars, electronics) and also in industrial processes such as production lines of food and beverage, offshore industry etc. Among the most noticeable examples is the increased use of lightweight components in vehicles, due to rising environmental regulations. In the food and nutrition industry, plastic, rubber and metal are used as the key component in processing equipment, where strict hygienic standards requires high-performing adhesive to secure safe and air- and water-tight bonding of the components without leaching of any harmful chemicals.

The fundamental problem facing any applications containing plastic-metal bonding is that plastics and metals have inherently different chemical properties and most often very dissimilar surface energies. Achieving strong bonding between dissimilar material groups represent a major challenge. The available adhesives typically bond strongly to just one of the component materials but not to the other. In addition, adhesives often fail under extreme conditions or do not give the desired bonding properties, like tightness and lifetime. Or they are based on harmful chemicals that could potentially leach out.

RadiSurf’s AdheSurf project solves this key market gap. Our revolutionary technology, that we will bring into commercialization, utilizes polymer brushes to join metals and plastics together. Our unique nanoscale bonding technology creates a tight direct chemical bond between metal and plastic components without any harmful chemicals and potential environmental risks.

RadiSurf’s disruptive adhesion technology, works by first applying a nanometer-thin initiator, or activator, layer on the base material surface to create chemical bonds directly to surface molecules. Followed by growing polymer brushes from this activator layer through a groundbreaking polymerization technique (patent pending). Unprecedented, this entire process can be completed within 30 minutes under regular atmospheric conditions – and for the first time accessing this type of technology for economically viable and scalable production. The finished, coated metal components are remarkably stable, and can be stored for months before final assembly with the plastic part. While the entire process is expected to be easily integrated into a customer’s existing production line, the technology also allows for the option to separate the coating and the assembly processes. This is another advantage over traditional primers and adhesives, where the assembly needs to be executed within minutes or seconds after the adhesive is applied. Combined, this high-performance bonding technology based on disruptive use of polymer brushes has ideal capabilities for scaled-up commercial use.
In the current project period, RadiSurf have shown the billion EUR potential markets through market analysis illustrating the extensive need for new bonding solution in multiple industries - such as lightweighting solutions for automotive industry, safe adhesives for medical devices, and new bonding methods opening completely new design opportunities for industrial design. The market research also opened for a new insight into current adhesive solutions, such as epoxy based adhesives and coatings. For many of these coatings, industry is experiencing problems obtaining stable strong bondings on a range of metals. Through fesaibility studies with our collaborators, we have proven how our polymer brush technology brings exceptional performance, when utilized as a primer for epoxy systems.
Through a collaboration with more than 18 customers, we have made a series of feasibility tests and in general proven our technology all the way to the first small batch productions on the market.

Through the project, RadiSurf has tested and developed a sustainable business model, to bring a highly advance tailor-made bonding system to the market. By offering customers the premium service of tailoring the bonding system, from first initial test to a full-scale production. Our technology has been matured significantly and is ready to move towards scaling up.

High-end adhesives for design applications, appliances and consumer products, electronics & sensors, dental applications and certain composite material products will be the target segments for our first launching pads. These are only moderately regulated, which decrease the entry barriers facilitating the market penetration and generation of initial revenue. We have already established partnerships with companies in these segments and have validated promising value propositions for these customers.
Once we have established a solid foundation in these industries, RadiSurf aim to branch out into higher profit markets including the lucrative automotive, medical, food and beverage and offshore industries. We will face higher market barriers when penetrating these markets due to the stricter regulations and standardizations imposed to upkeep the safety and quality standards in these industries.
Through this project, we have been working on maturing our technology and during this work, we have realized our technological breakthrough solution to produce grafting from based polymer brushes on an actually scalable method. This new chemical method led to our second patent application and was submitted during the project period.

We believe, that this reaches far beyond adhesion between metal and plastic. Research has shown that polymer brushes are useful in many other applications, such as fricition control, bio-fouling control etc. The barrier to realizing many of these applications have been the lack of a scalable methodology to form these polymer brush structures outside the laboratory.

This will have a potential impact in a very broad range of industries and hopefully impact society in a very positive direction in terms of better and more sustainable use of materials in the future.
Description of the RadiSurf adhesion technology