Plastics make up a part of nearly everything manufactured and used in day-to-day life. From children’s plastic toys to car and aircraft parts, plastics are everywhere. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the need to weld plastic parts has increased in the last decade.
Welding plastic parts uses the same basic principles that are applied when welding metal parts. Heat is applied through various methods to the areas being welded until they fuse together. Sometimes the welding implement is required to add additional plastic material to the weld to assist in the fusing process.
Plastic welding can be done by several different methods. Both hot gas and speed tip welding use heat to melt the areas to be joined until they soften enough to fuse. Extrusion and injection welding add additional heated weld material at the weld site to join the two parts. Finally, ultrasonic and friction welding heat the two parts to be joined by rubbing them against one another until they heat up, soften, and fuse together.
With all of these welding methods, the line is very thin between heating the plastic pieces enough for them fuse properly and damaging them with excessive heat. Because of this, plastic welding is an ideal application for robots. Robots can rapidly, reliably, and repeatedly achieve the precise heat, pressure, and motion control necessary to correctly weld plastic.
Robots also excel in the repetitive, mass-production environment where most plastic welding is done. This saves money in the form of less wasted raw material and reduced part-cycle times. Robot end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) can be easily adjusted to accommodate the slightly different plastic welding implements, which are basically the same as metal welding tooling, with minor adjustments for the lower heat levels required for plastic welding.