By Cameron Chai
Biofilm’s Product Manager for Special Technologies, Gabriel Durana has appreciated the coating technology of the Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP. The second plant of the company was commissioned during November 2010, utilizing Dresden’s plasma technology at its Altamira location in Mexico.
The company has supplied the new film to the baked goods and snack product manufacturers in Europe and North America. The film can be used in new applications such as high-barrier microwavable packaging to provide freshly-baked products with good feel and taste. Currently, this new facility is completely operational and coats up to 2.85 m wide films.
Long polymer film has been transported by the vacuum roll-to-roll facilities for many kilometers at a speed of 36 km/h by means of roller systems via coating stations. These stations are fed with aluminum wire, which is evaporated in hot ceramic crucibles. Optical measurement systems directly identify the requirement of oxygen in order to achieve an optimum oxide layer. It identifies the film transparency and regulates the oxygen feed. Prior to vapour striking the substrate, extra energy is fed to the aluminum-oxygen vapor in a plasma zone for depositing a dense layer upon the film thus attaining an effective barrier. A transparent packaging film is formed along with a very thin aluminum oxide layer that is less permeable for water vapor and oxygen, when compared to a normal film. The Fraunhofer FEP partnering with Biofilm developed this plasma technology from conceptualization to implementation.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and Saxon State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labor and Transport (SMWA) provided funds for the project work, which was conducted for many years.
This plasma technology can be used to enhance the packaging materials. Vacuum technologies like high-rate deposition, sputtering, and high-rate PECVD can be utilized to refine flexible electronics, medical implants, optical filters and solar cells.