Assessment of Plasma Technology to Enhance Sealing and Mechanical Bonding in an Overmolded Assembly.
Injection overmolding is an established integrative assembly technique in the plastics industry. It is widely used in the manufacturing of products across various industrial sectors, including electronics, mechatronics, medical, automotive, and more. However, a major challenge with this technology is achieving long-term, watertight and durable connections between inserts and the polymer overmolded part due to weak chemical bonds. Currently, operations such as potting or the use of primers are necessary before or after overmolding to ensure a secure bond in the final product. These operations are largely performed manually as they are difficult to integrate into an automated process. Moreover, the primers used are generally highly corrosive, toxic, and therefore hazardous to operators and the environment. Plasma technology for insert pretreatment utilizes the same active principles as primers for surface functionalization but without toxic solvents, and it requires less material input. This technology is easy to automate, making it feasible for integration into a production line for mass production.
The primary objective of this project is to study and validate the use of plasma technology for pretreating elements (metal, plastic, or others) that will undergo overmolding. Specifically, the Plasma Overmolding project aims to:
• Enhance the bond between inserts and the overmolded plastic part by applying plasma to the inserts before overmolding, thus achieving either a direct watertight bond or a strong mechanical connection after overmolding.
• Eliminate the need for potting or primer application.
• Establish a set of best practices for using plasma in overmolded connections based on different material combinations used by the project’s industrial partners.
The results of this project will enable industrial partners to validate the application of plasma technology for their respective products through pilot applications tested within the project. This technology will allow them to optimize their manufacturing processes and improve the final quality of their products. Through this pre-competitive project, partner companies will develop their expertise in cutting-edge technology, thereby enhancing their competitiveness.