Plasma Surface Preparation for Optimum Nutplate Performance
Surfx’s game changing plasma technology was featured in the SAMPE Journal, a publication that delivers information on new and advanced materials and processing technology. Our team is excited to share the featured article with you!
Nutplates are commonly used on aircraft to allow installation and removal of components and panels for maintenance and repair. The use of bonded nutplates over riveted ones reduces manufacturing complexity and leads to weight savings. In this work, plasma surface preparation has been examined for bonding stainless steel nutplates to aluminum structures. Preparation of these bond surfaces is often accomplished through an abrasion process or using only a solvent wipe. These methods are difficult to control and can lead to variation in the performance of bonded nutplates. Successful installation of bonded nutplates requires the generation of a highly clean and active bonding surface. A small, portable plasma device was used to clean individual nutplates within a few seconds. In addition, a handheld plasma tool was used to prepare the nutplate installation site. The plasma process eliminates operator variability by removing surface contaminants in a matter of seconds with no other cleaning steps required. The bond surface is rendered active for bonding and converted to a high surface energy, hydrophilic state. This new technology eliminates interfacial bond failures while increasing push- off strength from 441±34 lbs to 845±74 lbs and torque-out strength from 100±18 in·lbs to 159±27 in·lbs when compared with abrasion. Furthermore, the plasma has been shown to reduce preparation time, decrease variability and lower the instances of nutplate failures both in manufacturing and in the aircraft service environment. Transitioning to a plasma-based surface preparation thereby offers the potential to save millions of dollars over the life cycle of an aircraft… Read More
Thomas S. Williams, Graham Ray, Demetrious L. Lloyd and Robert F. Hicks Surfx Technologies, LLC, Redondo Beach, CA
The full article goes over the technology in detail and discusses the results of testing comparisons made between plasma and other techniques like sanding and solvent wipes. The consistency, speed, and bond strength testing will illustrate how game changing this technology really is!
Read the full SAMPE Journal article here.
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