Plasma Technology Start-up introduces sustainable technology into blow moulded packaging
Germany — The start-up company Ionkraft, which has its roots in the Plasma Technology working group at IKV, has won first place in the RWTH Innovation Award 2021. Using plasma technology, the team wants to make plastic packaging for barrier applications in the chemical industry recyclable, and thus replace the present multi-material solutions.
Plasma coatings enable the production of plastic packaging that is particularly light in weight, as dense as glass, absolutely chemically resistant and nevertheless fully recyclable. For this innovation Ionkraft was awarded the RWTH Aachen University, Germany.
Ionkraft was founded in April 2021. Since then, the team has been developing, designing and building a reactor that coats plastic blow-moulded packaging and provides it with a chemically resistant barrier function. The applied coatings offer a strong migration barrier that is essential for many applications. The advantage of the coatings applied by plasma technology is that they can be applied wafer-thin to mono-materials. The coatings have the positive effect that — in contrast to multi-material solutions — they do not impair the recyclability of the packaging.
Basically, the technology can be adapted to the individual demands of a wide variety of end-products, such as film, blow moulded articles or strictly regulated fruit packaging. In the agricultural industry, for example, the packs often have to have a solvent barrier that can be reliably produced using the plasma technology. With the first reactor design, the Ionkraft team will be able to coat pack sizes of up to 20 litres, which meets the needs of the agricultural industry for the packaging of fertilisers or crop protection products – just one of many potential applications.
The Plasma Technology working group at IKV has been carrying out research for many years into the coating of blow-moulded products, which laid the foundations for the present barrier technology. Since the beginning of the research work in the 1980s, this technology has repeatedly advanced by quantum leaps, and it was this that created the breeding ground for the founding of the start-up. Ionkraft has continued with the further development of the coating properties and has created a suitable machine design for the coating of specific types of packaging. The founders of the start-up now want to prepare, with their enterprise, the path into industrial application for the well-researched technology by enabling a high level of specialisation for different branches of industry. The future cooperation between IKV research and the company will continue to be very close.