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September 1, 2003

4 Min Read
Assembly, welding

Laser welding heated up at NPE, with many companies rolling out their first forays into the technology. Branson was among them with its modular Laser Iram system.

Joining of sensitive components for the medical and electronics markets demands precision, and Dukane says its PolyScan model, with a patented diode-pumped solid-state laser, delivers.

Welding is gaining an ever greater foothold in the automotive industry, as companies like Bielomatik in conjunction with robotic companies create turnkey cells to join large parts into subassemblies.

The shoot-and-ship days for molders are numbered if not gone as further up the supply stream, OEMs pressure companies to add assembly and other secondary operations. Suppliers of assembly equipment have picked up on the trend and continue to push advances in this technology, allowing for the joining of ever-larger parts with minimal flash.

Laser welding marks the forefront of joining technology, promising no flash or outwardly visible signs of the weld, but the technology comes with its own unique set of requirements. Typically, a laser is sent through fiber optics into the tool, but for joining to occur, the top part must transmit the light and the bottom half must absorb it. Transmissive materials aren?t limited to white or clear parts; in fact, some that would appear opaque actually transmit that particular wavelength.

Branson Ultrasonics used NPE to introduce its Laser Iram system, which operates in two modes?simultaneous and scanning. The laser welders come in 100, 125, or 750W and use a modular design.

Billing its new laser unit as a polymer welding workstation, Dukane Corp. introduced the PolyScan model, which uses a patented diode-pumped solid-state laser to weld sensitive components without creating any particulates, important for industries such as electronics. Dukane says fixed- or dynamic-beam welding is possible thanks to the beam-steering and focusing head.

Laserquipment AG is wholly focused on laser welding, and it makes advanced manufacturing cells for the technology. Traditional laser welding systems have a shield to protect users, which must be lowered, but this step sucks time out of a joining process. To alleviate this, the company created rotary-table-based automation cells where its QS Series laser welder can join parts away from operators and without the delay of lowering a shield. The QS Series is a scanner-based system that can handle 2-D contours as well as complex 3-D geometries.

Forward Technology, a Crest Group Co., brought its TS 824 Thermo-Staker to NPE. Using a system of hot air and cold staking to form a stud that joins plastic to plastic or to metals, the Thermo-Staker has a four-post construction to ensure correct alignment of the tooling.

Dukane unveiled a new line of hot plate welders with the introduction of the Model HHB1223P. The new unit features PLC-controlled dual-zone heating as well as an integrated display/control panel. The company also put a new spin on an old product, expanding its line of spin welders to include 3- and 5-hp variations. Heavy-duty construction of the base column reportedly adds rigidity.

Branson also brought along a new thermal welding system, but it drew plenty of attention with a more traditional ultrasonic welding system, one with 6000W output. Emitting a high wail, the welder fastened a vinyl footrest approximately 6 by 2 inches in size to carpeting for an automotive application.

Also pointing towards the vehicle market, Bielomatik used its K3220 vibration welding unit to join automotive parts that were nearly 2m long with the help of a Fanuc robot. The K3220 uses variable frequencies and controlled amplitude over a range of .8 to 2 mm to join parts.

Sonics & Materials brought three new products to Chicago: a Model 2050 welding press, a Model FC6015 welder, and a 30-kHz system. The 2050 uses THK rails, bearings, an inline air cylinder, and increased column diameter and wall thickness for a more rigid unit. The FC6015 is a 6000W, 15-kHz welder with autotune circuitry. It also has line voltage and load regulation. The new 30-kHz unit fills a void between Sonics? 20- and 40-kHz offerings, welding large parts without overly loud noise.

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