The Role Of Plasma Cleaning In Manufacturing Of Medical Devices

Updated on December 16, 2022

Plasma cleaning is a method of cleaning surfaces that uses plasma or ionized gas. Engineers form plasma when a gas is subjected to high temperatures or exposed to a powerful electromagnetic field. The plasma then disintegrates into its highly reactive constituent atoms and molecules.

When plasma comes into contact with molecules on a surface, it interacts with them. This process can disrupt connections between molecules, eliminating dust, dirt, and other pollutants. Plasma cleaning may also etch tiny layers of material away, making it excellent for prepping surfaces for further coating or processing. 

The manufacturing industry employs plasma cleaning in various sectors, including semiconductor production, aerospace, and medical technology. It is an efficient approach to cleaning fragile surfaces without causing damage. Plasma cleaning can also eliminate pollutants that conventional cleaning procedures cannot remove.

Plasma cleaning in medical equipment may be critical in manufacturing various parts and products. Compared to alternative surface cleaning or activation techniques, you may introduce it to a production process without devoting extra time while boosting the performance of bonding, plating, coatings, or other applications. The advantages include saving time, lowering costs, and improving bond performance.

Including a plasma cleaning phase in a natural manufacturing process does not need additional production time or procedures. This is done by simply eliminating a subpar alternative cleaning step. Other cleaning procedures might be inefficient and time-consuming. Plasma cleaning is an immaculate and efficient process that increases product quality overall.

Plasma Cleaning Process

It is possible to integrate a plasma system into an existing process. Several alternatives and adjustments are available for incorporating a plasma chamber into a current line. There are mechanical plasma cleaning system variations in which the pieces are loaded and unloaded by the operator.

Fully automated systems are also readily available, in which a robot or preprogrammed operation may clean the manufacturing line automatically. These plasma techniques ensure that the following production step has a clean, sterile surface. This cleaning method yields high-quality, pure material.

Did you know that numerous pollutants on a surface that might have an adverse effect on traction are not always visible? They can exist at the microscopic level on a surface. A simple wiping or cleaning process might leave molecular-level pollutants on a surface.

Plasma cleaning eliminates contaminants or foreign objects from a surface at the microscopic level, resulting in a spotless surface for subsequent bonding. Employing a plasma cleaning after a simple bulk clean might also be effective. Following a majority clean, plasma cleaning will eradicate any microscopic contaminants left over from the basic cleaning procedure.

When employed in the industrial process, plasma cleaning offers several advantages. These advantages include no additional processing time, a shorter takt time, cheaper costs, and better bond performance. There is no extra time since a plasma cleaning step usually removes another primary cleaning stage; therefore, the plasma cleaning method is frequently faster.

Because a simple cleaning procedure can be done in bulk and has short cycle periods, a plasma cleaning method has a lower takt time than primers or other chemical surface preparation stages.

The meager operating expenses might help to offset the high initial cost of acquiring a plasma system. The longer a plasma system is used in medical devices, the cheaper the total costs. Plasma cleaning a surface prior to bonding or plating improves bond strength between the coating and the material’s surface, contributing to superb entire product quality and good customer feedback.

Plasma Therapy for Medical Devices

1. Sterilization of Plasma

Traditional sterilizing methods rely on high heat, hazardous chemicals, or irradiation. These procedures may cause harm to medical gadgets. You can sterilize heat or radiation-sensitive medical devices effectively using low-temperature oxygen plasma or hydrogen peroxide plasma. Reactive O, OH, O3, and OOH energetic ions and radicals cause the etching of microbiological structures.

Bacterial endospores subjected to plasma shrink dramatically, resulting in spore death. Plasma is also a valuable source of VUV and UV photons, which have been shown to have sterilizing properties. Plasma treatment of medical equipment can provide both sterilization and surface activation.

2. Improve The Adherence To Biomedical Coatings

Many medical devices, including catheters, intraocular lenses, medical stents,  contact lenses, and metal implants, use functional coatings to increase biocompatibility and reduce adverse side effects.

However, most of that medical equipment has chemically inert surfaces with low surface energy, making it difficult for functional coatings to adhere to the surface. Plasma treatment can improve interface adhesion by increasing surface energy and creating chemically active functional groups. Plasma treatment is a safer and more ecologically friendly way of processing than wet processing.

3. Enhance Biocompatibility

You can increase cell adhesion and protein adsorption in implantable biomaterials such as polymer, metal, and silicone. Plasma treatment can selectively adjust the surface’s physical and chemical characteristics without impacting the original device’s bulk qualities.

Plasma surface treatment of biopolymer, for example, can introduce functional groups, produce graft polymerization, increase coating adherence, and generate molecular crosslinking without changing the polymer’s surface roughness.

Plasma treatment of titanium devices can clean and sanitize the surface, preparing it for later plasma polymerization with allylamine. The adhesion of cells to plasma-treated titanium surfaces can be considerably enhanced.

Is Plasma Cleaning Safe?

Plasma cleaning is non-hazardous since it does not employ hazardous chemicals or abrasive components. Plasma cleaning is also helpful since it can remove various impurities such as dust, grime, and organic compounds. It uses plasma, a gas ionized by an electric field, to remove surface pollutants. Plasma cleaning is frequently used in optical components, semiconductors,  and medical equipment.

If you want to plasma clean a surface, you should speak with a specialist to verify the method is safe and successful.

Plasma-applied and protective coatings can play an essential role in new product development for many medical device manufacturers, as well as when updating legacy surgical instruments under 510(k) standards.

As a result, the industry is rapidly researching and applying plasma to items such as plates, micro fluids, intraocular lenses (IOLs), stainless-steel guide wires, cardiac pacemakers or implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), stents, catheters, and vascular surgical instruments.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.