New welding technology seals the deal
Welding machine and staking-module makers have fired up a bevy of new technologies that facilitate automation, provide a gentle touch to sensitive parts and offer users more flexibility.
While some companies, such as MS Ultrasonic, are offering new lines, others take aim at particular applications. Companies with new products include Dukane, Sedeco, Extol, Sonics & Materials and Ritmo.
MS ULTRASONIC TECHNOLOGY GROUP
A specialist in making large modular welding systems, Spaichingen, Germany-based MS Ultrasonic has recently carried its MS SoniTop benchtop welding series across the Atlantic for the first time.
Available in Europe for more than two years, the MS SoniTop series is designed for a diverse array of welding applications. Unlike MS Ultrasonic’s other offerings, which target automotive applications, the MS SoniTop series is especially suited for small components that require precise control.
“Typically, the parts that are introduced to the new SoniTop machines are welded one at a time,” said Brad Rogers, director of ultrasonic servo presses for MS Plastic Welders, the company’s U.S. affiliate. Suitable products can include medical devices, electronic housings, consumer parts and filters.
Unlike pneumatically driven welders, the SoniTops feature a servo drive and require no compressed air, making them ideal for use in clean rooms.
Rogers said the servo drive is an appealing feature.
“Many companies are seeing huge benefits by using a servo drive versus traditional pneumatic drives, as well as a patented deflection-free frame,” he said.
The welders employ technologies that maintain parallelism between the sonotrode and workpiece, ensuring process stability and perfect results.
They can be automatically positioned, and trigger and work positions can be automatically saved. To make job changes seamless, the welders can identify welding setups automatically, using any of a variety of inputs, including bar codes, to determine the correct welding program.
Welders in the series — composed of the base-level Opus, mid-range welders Nexus and Fusion, and top-of-the-line machine, the Genesis — are available in frequencies ranging from 20 kilohertz (kHz) to 35 kHz. Versions at the 30- and 35-kHz levels offer 1,000 watts or 2,000 watts of welding power, while the 20-kHz versions can deliver 2,500 watts, 4,000 watts or 5,000 watts, or as much as 6,000 watts for the Fusion and Genesis. The entire series can be integrated as in-line modules in existing production lines.
Depending on the welder’s specs, units can reach speeds of almost 9.5 inches per second.
The Genesis and Fusion models provide integrated tensile testing, so users can easily document and link tensile and welding parameters; the feature is available as an option on the Opus and Nexus models.
The Opus, Fusion and Nexus come with 15-inch touch screens; the Genesis’ display is 17 inches. Weld modes for the Opus include time, energy, absolute position and relative distance; profiling is limited to force and holding force. Nexus profiling allows up to three forces, in addition to holding force. Weld modes for the Fusion include time, energy, off-part-referenced mode, absolute position, relative distance and absolute power. Finally, as the premium model, the Genesis offers a number of advantages. For instance, it can store up to 1,000 welding recipes, and as many as six of the units can be networked together.
Welding specialist Dukane continues to expand its portfolio of products, adding a new welder and additional generators over the last several months.
Its new Infrared-Preheat Vibration welding system uses quartz bulb emitters to evenly heat around sharp corners. Working in the 2- to 4-micrometer range, these sources provide non-contact, low-particulate welding of a variety of materials, including composite-reinforced plastics, PE, PVC, PP, polyamides, PC and PC-ABS.
Offering a longer effective range than foil emitters, the bulbs maintain consistent melt and minimize flash.
The welding system comes with a servo-driven lift table, and infrared (IR) tooling can be quickly swapped in and out of other systems; users can even mix and match IR and non-IR tooling in a single machine.
In addition to the welder, Dukane launched its iQ AIM and iQ Auto+MPC ultrasonic generators.
The iQ AIM ultrasonic generator squeezes a lot of juice into its small frame. Generators for frequencies ranging from 15 kHz to 40 kHz are available; power levels range from 600 watts to 5,000 watts.
“It’s a lot of power compacted into a small package,” Dukane President and CEO Michael Johnston said.
According to the company, the Industry 4.0-ready generator includes Ethernet ports to communicate with PLCs and optional Anybus communications ports.
Designed for multi-point welding applications, including vehicle-door assembly, the iQ Auto+MPC can be configured with up to eight individual weld points. Each weld point can be programmed to weld by time, energy or peak power; welding by distance is optional. Boasting a 0.5-millisecond processing speed, the iQ Auto+MPC is available in power ranges of 600 watts or 1,200 watts and frequencies of 20 kHz, 30 kHz, 35 kHz and 40 kHz.
Both generators have been designed to save space and simplify wiring.
Plastics welding equipment maker Sedeco provides users looking for greater versatility a generator that offers a choice of frequencies. The dual-frequency SonoPet JII generator can toggle between frequencies of 28.5 kHz and 39.5 kHz.
Alex Moorehead, chief sales and applications engineer for Sedeco, explained that such a device provides a best-of-both-worlds solution for dealing with materials with different properties. For example, he described assembly work involving car doors. A door might have as many as 40 rivets, and putting it together might mean joining ABS — a material that requires a welding frequency of around 40 kHz — to PP — a material that requires a welding frequency of around 30 kHz. With the new JII generator, operators have access to both.
“So, in this case, you don’t need multiple generators. You just have to have one unit and transducer for each frequency,” Moorehead said.
The generator makes it easier to automate tasks involving multiple welds, he said. Using only one generator setup, a six-axis robot, for instance, could easily change its 28-kHz transducer and tooling for a 39-kHz transducer and tooling in mid-cycle.
The new equipment offers access to a wide variety of control parameters and presets, as well as password protection.
In addition to the generator, Sedeco also is touting a new, free app that gives users of its JII family of welders the convenience of setting welding parameters on their smartphones.
SONICS & MATERIALS
Sonics & Materials has expanded its line of ultrasonic generator kits that govern the on/off firing of ultrasonic converters in automated assembly lines. The latest addition is a 35-kHz version that sports some new features.
When deployed with the company’s multiplexer PC board, the new product can send a radio-frequency signal to multiple weld locations, initiating a sequence of as many as eight welds, depending on the number of multiplexer channels, welding product manager Mark Caldwell said.
The new kit has a compact design and offers a new weld-to-peak-power function. It has LEDs to indicate power output, Ethernet IP connection and overload conditions.
Caldwell said the 35-kHz version produces welds that are stronger than those produced by 40-kHz generators, while still meeting cosmetic considerations.
Sonics & Materials works directly with system integrators and machinery builders to tailor its systems to manufacturers’ applications.
Designed for automotive lighting parts, electronics and medical devices, Extol’s new low-current staking module is appropriate for applications involving sensitive thermoplastic parts, as well as applications that require heating small bosses in a tight area. It boasts rapid heating — with cooling that’s almost as quick. Employing the company’s proprietary Smart Respond heating technology, the nanoStake is equipped with an embedded temperature sensor for closed-loop process control. It heats the punch to a programmed melt temperature in seconds and forms the boss into a stake.
“It quickly heats up and quickly cools down, so there isn’t any sticking,” said Jason Dornbos, Extol’s marketing communications manager. And, it uses only 1.5 amps, he explained.
“This makes tool changes and integration much simpler and easier. Additionally, the nanoStake module retains zero residual heat, so users don’t have to worry about them getting hotter throughout the day,” Dornbos said.
An LED indicator on the module displays one of three colors — blue for cool, red for hot and yellow for heat-up/cool-down.
The compact nanoStake module has an 8mm-punch diameter and 12.5mm-body diameter. All heat is concentrated in the tip, allowing no heat to migrate through the body of the module.
A specialist in making welders for downstream extrusion applications, Ritmo has launched a new saddle-socket fusion welder for welding together pipes at various angles. Pipe makers are among the targeted users of the new technology.
The Prisma Up 90 can join PP random copolymer pipes used in plumbing and hydronic heating. Designed for single-operator use, as well as tight spaces, it is appropriate for all major pipe and saddle-fitting brands. It is compact and lightweight, and can be used horizontally, vertically and upside-down.
“The welding machine [provides] a perfect centering of drilling and socket weld, as well as the perfect alignment between pipe and fitting,” said Tres Tuttle, sales manager for the U.S. and Canada.
The welder can join pipes with diameters ranging from about 1.6 inches to 24.8 inches to smaller pipes with diameters of up to 3.5 inches, in some cases; exact capabilities depend on the size of the largest pipe.
Karen Hanna, copy editor
St. Charles, Ill., 630-797-4900,
Zeeland, Mich., 800-324-6205,
MS Plastic Welders LLC,
Webberville, Mich., 517-223-1059,
Ritmo America LLC,
Lake Wales, Fla., 863-679-8655,
Sedeco USA Inc.,
West Chester Township, Ohio, 513-644-2369,
Sonics & Materials Inc.,
Newtown, Conn., 203-270-4600,