Plasma Technology

Learn more about the science and technology of plasma surface treatment and surface energy

Plasma Cleaning

Plasma cleaning is a proven, effective, economical and environmentally safe method for critical surface preparation. Plasma cleaning with oxygen plasma eliminates natural and technical oils & grease at the nano-scale and reduces contamination up to 6 fold when compared with traditional wet cleaning methods, including solvent cleaning residues themselves. Plasma cleaning produces a pristine surface, ready for bonding or further processing, without any harmful waste material.

How plasma cleaning works

Ultra-violet light generated in the plasma is very effective in the breaking most organic bonds of surface contaminants. This helps to break apart oils and grease. The second cleaning action is carried out by the energetic oxygen species created in the plasma. These species react with organic contaminants to form mainly water and carbon dioxide which are continuously removed (pumped away) from the chamber during processing.

If the part to be plasma cleaned consists of easily oxidised materials such as silver or copper, inert gases such as argon or helium are used instead. The plasma-activated atoms and ions behave like a molecular sandblast and can break down organic contaminants. These contaminants are again vaporised and evacuated from the chamber during processing.

A scientific illustration of a contaminated part prior to plasma cleaning
A scientific illustration of a contaminated part during plasma cleaning
A scientific illustration of a contaminated part completely cleaned using plasma treatment

Plasma Cleaning Explained

Plasma Cleaning Explained.
The third in our series of videos about plasma treatment technology, this video explains how plasma cleaning works and which systems can provide the best quality treatments.


Plasma cleaning is suitable for:

  • hyper-fine cleaning of metal surfaces
  • surface preparation of plastics & elastomers
  • surface preparation and cleaning of ophthalmic and general glass products
  • ceramics
  • removing oxidation from surfaces

Comparison of plasma cleaning & wet chemical cleaning

Plasma Cleaning

Wet Chemical (solvent/aqueous) Cleaning

Processes are precisely controllable through power, pressure, gas type, processing time etc. Processes are very sensitive to the processing time and chemical concentrations
No organic residues remain Reliability depends on satisfactory neutralisation of residues which may require further processing steps
‘Waste’ is harmless and always in gaseous form that can be liberated directly to the atmosphere The high volume of liquid waste which requires expensive treatment and is subject to tight regulations
Most of the gases used have no toxicity Most of the solvents and acids used are extremely hazardous

See what our customers have to say

  • "The technical team at Henniker are very knowledgeable and supportive and always approachable. I have found it a pleasure to work with them."

    Simon Baxter - BAE Systems, MAI

  • "Henniker guided us to choose the most suitable plasma unit for our application, ensured an accelerated delivery time & guided us through the very easy setup. We obtained quality results with their unit within minutes of setup & consistent results thereafter. The support they have provided has been rapid and helpful."

    Dr Ravi Desai - Making Lab, Francis Crick Institute

    Francis Crick Institute
  • "Henniker provided our team with excellent service during the course of our work together, the plasma cleaner arrived quickly and was installed with ease, giving us visible results from the outset and confirming that we made the right decision in choosing a local UK manufacturer."

    Dr Panagiotis Manesiotis BSc MRSC - Queen’s University Belfast

    Queens Uni Belfast
  • "Our customers and operations demand reliability at every level and were a key factor in our decision to choose a UK based manufacturer of plasma treatment equipment."

    Tom Doak - Trak Microwave

    Queens Uni Belfast
  • "Henniker’s after sales support is first class. They have always been extremely responsive if we have ever had need to call on them."

    Steve Rackham - Teledyne

  • "Henniker’s plasma systems have delivered tangible benefits to us right from day one. The team there are very easy to work with."

    Ian Bruce - Coopervision

  • "Henniker really stood out, both in their product range and technical knowledge. They are a great company to work with."

    Karthik Nair - University of Bradford

    University of Bradford
  • "We are very impressed with the ease of use and reliability of our plasma unit and were producing results within minutes of setting it up."

    Dr Neil Wilson - Warwick University

    Warwick University
  • "Our collaborative work with the team at Henniker was a very positive experience and one that we look forward to developing further."

    Ewen Kellar - TWI

  • "Henniker provided a tailored product to match our exact requirements. They are a pleasure to work with."

    Dr Will Shu - Heriot Watt University

    Heriot Watt University

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  • Maclaren
  • Cambridge Uni
  • Warwick Uni
  • Morgan Ceramics
  • QMUL
  • University Bradford
  • BAE
  • Imperial College London
  • Heriot Watt Uni
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