Inhance technologies proprietary processes provides alternatives to metal packaging and reduces total packaging costs

Technology

We make the seemingly impossible possible. Our unique, proven technologies transform conventional plastics into high-performance materials. You get the best of both worlds: the flexibility and low cost of commodity plastics and the performance that you’d expect from premium materials.

Exceptional Benefits

Inhance’s processes are carried out under negative pressures either in a batch or in a continuous operation. This provides us with the unique capability to modify products of any shape and size — from micron-sized particles to very large exterior and interior surfaces, films, sheets, textiles, profiles, and complex molded parts. The negative pressure ensures complete 360° coverage of any article or raw material on all the exposed surfaces, maximizing performance.

Our performance enhancement processes can be performed in small or large batches, or continuously, based on our customers’ desired outcomes and circumstances.

Since the actual compositional changes to the products are very modest, treated materials retain not only their overall bulk properties, but also the same recyclable properties as the original materials.

Advanced Performance and Functionality

Inhance activates material surfaces via a reactive gas mixture, including elemental fluorine. Fluorine’s high reactivity oxidizing power, and the electronegativity of the fluoride ion (F-), facilitates a variety of chemical reactions on treated surfaces.

Fluorine may be combined with oxygen (O2), nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and other gases to tailor the surface chemistry and the resulting product’s performance.

Depending upon the composition of the gas mixture, their concentrations, and the duration and temperature of the process, the surface properties of a wide array of materials can be altered to enhance performance and functionality. Such enhancements include, for example, increased hydrocarbon barrier properties, reduced friction coefficients, increased hydrophilicity, increased wettability or enhanced adhesion abilities.

Fluoro-Seal Process®

Inhance’s Fluoro-Seal Process®, uses fluorine gas to impart hydrocarbon barrier properties to various types of plastics.

The process imparts barrier properties to plastics in several ways:

  • Fluorine substitution increases the density of the surface. Free volume is decreased, reducing solvent permeability.
  • Radicals generated during the high-energy process cause a slight degree of polymer crosslinking on the surface, locking in the new structure and making the treatment permanent. This also minimizes swelling and plasticization effects, thereby increasing chemical resistance and suppressing permeability.
  • Surface energy increases significantly, due to an increase in polarity of the surface. The net effect is reduced solubility of low polarity organic liquids and excellent surface barrier properties.

The process not only imparts barrier to hydrocarbon solvents, but also can be used to contain flavors and fragrances, and increase stain resistance of plastic containers.

The desired barrier performance is accomplished by controlling the degree of fluorine substitution. This requires consideration of plastic material composition, additives and other materials present, the container or tank characteristics, the expected storage conditions, and the composition of the liquid to be contained.

Inhance has developed special methods to achieve optimum barrier performance without causing undesired degradation and decomposition reactions. Careful maintenance and control of the relative gas mixture, the reaction temperature, and the exposure time enables the formations of very stable covalent carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds to surface depths of several microns.

The change in weight loss of some selected solvents as a result of our Fluoro-Seal Process® is shown in the table below.

WEIGHT LOSS
(grams / liter / day)
SOLVENT UNTREATED TREATED
1,1,1 - Trichlotoethane 10.5 0.03
Xylene 36.0 0.11
Heavy Gasoline 36.0 0.11
Naphtha 21.1 0.10
Toluene 48.1 0.30
Mineral Spirits 9.1 0.10
Carbon Tetrachloride 30.1 0.05
Turpentine 3.9 0.05

Reactive Gas Technology™

The functionality of numerous polymers is limited by their low surface energy, notably evident in applications involving adhesive bonding, coating, and printing.

While highly effective barriers are produced with elemental fluorine, a broader array of effects can be produced using additional reactant gases. Inhance’s Reactive Gas Technology™ uses a mixture of reactive gases to improve/increase the hydrophilicity of plastics surfaces for subsequent assembly. Gases such as fluorine and oxygen results in the formation of other polar, functional moieties (carboxyl, carbonyl, hydroxyl, etc.) that increase the polarity and the surface energy of treated polymers. This provides basis for tailored material surface properties, including increased wettability and hydrophilicity, and tenacious adhesion of polar materials to less polar and non-reactive untreated surfaces.

Unlike other surface treatments such as flame treatment, corona, and plasma, the surface energy and chemistry changes from Inhance’s proprietary Reactive Gas Technology™ are long lasting because covalent bonds are formed. Reactive Gas Technology™ also uniquely provides a smooth surface topology, or low roughness.

The change in the surface energy of some selected materials as a result of our Reactive Gas Technology™ is shown in the table below.

Inhance also uses Reactive Gas Technology™ to reduce the coefficient of friction of elastomers by orders of magnitude, while increasing chemical resistance and barrier properties. The unique and proprietary technology allows the replacement of expensive gasket materials such as FKM, PTFE and other per fluorinated elastomers, while lowering cost and maintaining performance.

MATERIAL SURFACE ENERGY IN DYNE/CM
UNTREATED TREATED
LDPE 32 54
HDPE 37 54
PET 32 72
PP 29 66
EPDM 40 72
PBT 30 58
PC 32 56
PPS 32 60
Polysiloxane 32 54

Surface energy before and after the Fluoro-Seal Process

DuraBloc Process™

Inhance’s latest process innovation; the DuraBloc Process™ is used to impart hydrocarbon barrier properties to rotomolded plastics goods.

Simliar to our Fluoro-Seal Process™, the DuraBloc Process™ imparts barrier properties to plastics in several ways:

  • Fluorine substitution increases the density of the surface. Free volume is decreased, reducing solvent permeability.
  • Radicals generated during the high-energy process cause a slight degree of polymer crosslinking on the surface, locking in the new structure and making the treatment permanent. This also minimizes swelling and plasticization effects, thereby increasing chemical resistance and suppressing permeability.
  • Surface energy increases significantly, due to an increase in polarity of the surface. The net effect is reduced solubility of low polarity organic liquids and excellent surface barrier properties.

However, there are a few differences to this process that enable higher performance and providing the deepest, densest barrier. This  is accomplished by optimizing the process parameters such as gas composition and treatment conditions, thus allowing us to tailor treatment for individual tank characteristics such as size, geometry and tank molding process.

This technology allows for monolayer rotomolded fuel tanks made from HDPE and XLPE to be compliant with EPA and CARB emission regulations. The process results in the best barrier performance of all the available commercial barrier technologies, while reducing the overall cost and increasing production efficiency for rotomolded tanks.

Inhance has developed these special methods to achieve optimum barrier performance without causing undesired degradation and decomposition reactions. Careful maintenance and control of the relative gas mixture, the reaction temperature, and the exposure time enables the formations of very stable covalent carbon-fluorine (C-F) bonds to a surface depth of several microns.