Innovative functional interior coating of chemical containers using plasma processes

In many technological areas, resource and energy efficiency plays an increasingly important role. The optimisation of resource use and energy demand has a major impact on production processes, which have to take greater account of environmental aspects in addition to the previous main feature of cost efficiency. This applies not only to the production process itself, but also to product properties such as shelf life and, in the case of storage containers, the service life and drainability of the filling goods.

Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (FhIGB) has joined forces with several industrial partners in this project to develop new functional coatings using plasma technology for pharmaceutical and chemical containers. The use of this technology is intended to save energy, raw materials, and working and auxiliary materials in production (resource efficiency in production). The extension of the service life of the containers and better emptying properties result in further resource savings both in terms of container production and the residue-free use of the filling goods themselves. The advantages and effects of the announced coating systems are briefly listed below.

  • Service life/lastingness of a container, preservation of the filling material, storage: By optimizing the surface properties of the containers, large quantities of production material can be saved and, through better preservation, sensitive filling material can also be saved. The storage conditions can also be simplified, thus saving further costs. The protection of the product from e.g. plasticizers plays an important role, especially in the pharmaceutical sector.
  • Efficient, resource-conserving handling of the filling goods, container emptying: Processes for optimising the emptying of filling goods from containers also offer great potential for savings, especially when it comes to highly viscous filling goods such as lubricants, paints, highly viscous body care products, cleaning agents and detergents. It is undesirable to leave filling goods in the containers, both for cost reasons and in terms of environmental protection and disposal.

So the physico-chemical objectives that are needed to solve the problems are

  • Minimizing the diffusion and permeation of gases, vapors and liquids through layer systems
  • Adjustment of the wetting and de-wetting of surfaces in combination with an adjustment of the surface chemistry -> Improved flow behaviour of filling materials
  • Optimization of the mechanical stability of the above mentioned layers under deformation during filling and emptying processes.