A New Process for Scratch Proof Plastic

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Description and Advantages

A new process to rapidly and cheaply coat plastic sheet panels and foils with a scratch-proof glassy layer to prevent them from frequent scratches has been developed by German scientists. Quartz glass is evaporated and then deposited on the plastic surface in the method developed at Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) Dresden. Application of intensive quartz glass plasma during evaporation results in coatings of extreme hardness and resilience, reports Fraunhofer Gesselschaft Research News. The system can coat foils or sheets with a width of up to 40 centimeters, but in principle coating widths of several meters are quite possible.

The coating speed with plasma-activated high-rate electron beam evaporation is around 100 times greater than with other vacuum coating processes - applying a thickness of up to a micrometer per second. Clear and hard glass surfaces of this kind open up new potential applications for plastics - in car windows and headlamps, solar collectors, floor coverings and wall panels. A thin surface coating only six micrometers in depth makes the plastic as wear-resistant as normal glass. The high speed of the process substantially reduces costs - and the greater the volume of plastic coated, the less expensive the job becomes.


PTI Science Service, October 1-15, 2000