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Ultrasonic ‘spot’ welding adds strength to traditional adhesive bond

06 October 2010

A Lancashire based thermoformed plastic panel manufacturer has discovered the advantages of combining traditional adhesive bonding techniques with ultrasonic welding – a process that ensures the finished product not only excellent strength and stiffness coupled with a high resistance to bending stresses

The interior panels of public transport vehicles must not only be functional and aesthetically pleasing for their drivers and passengers but must also be able to withstand the rigours of constant use. The materials chosen for these sometimes complex components have to be robust but, more importantly, the joining processes used to assemble the parts need to guarantee safe operation and longevity.

Darwen based J A Kay is a manufacturer of plastic thermoformed components for a wide range of industries and it operates the very latest in thermoforming and finishing technology at its manufacturing facility. The specialist automotive sector is just one of the company’s markets for which it produces a diverse range of parts for interior and exterior trim, dash boards and fascias, plus sub assemblies for drivers’ cab doors and emergency exit doors.

Traditionally these often large ABS and polypropylene components are assembled and joined using a two-pack acrylic adhesive. However, the introduction of ultrasonic welding technology - not as a replacement for the adhesive but as a complimentary joining process - has brought with it a number of significant production benefits.

The typical joining process now comprises alternate short sections of ultrasonic spot welds and adhesive beads. This combination of generic material bonding and surface area bonding provides excellent strength and stiffness with a high resistance to bending stresses.

Moreover, this joining procedure means that fewer sash clamps are required, allowing greater access for the operator. And with the assembly secured by ultrasonic welding, the part can be safely handled and stored whilst the adhesive is curing, providing a better work flow and freeing up valuable space on the assembly benches.

Flexible tool
In order to perform the spot welding tasks on a range of interior trim components, J A Kay chose a Telsonic Handystar hand held ultrasonic welding system. Although simple in its configuration, this is a powerful and flexible tool that can be applied to a multitude of tasks. Applied to low volume, high mix product ranges or large complex three-dimensional components such as those produced by J A Kay, this hand operated welding unit has proved to be quick, clean and efficient.

Ergonomics is always a major consideration for all manual processes and the Telsonic hand held ultrasonic welding system has been designed specifically with the operator in mind. The low weight (just 1kg) and a slimline ‘grasp’ type grip with leaf switch operation, allows easy and comfortable operation in either horizontal or vertical attitudes, and particularly in the rather awkward-to-access welding points illustrated on this page.

Telsonic has been involved in the development and integration of ultrasonic technology into thousands of production systems since it started out some 40 years ago, and companies like J A Kay are now reaping the benefits of this accumulated applications knowledge.

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