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Striving for a more perfect union

The quick-change system on Herrmann's HiQ evolution unit helps users switch rapidly between tools.

December 11, 2008

6 Min Read
Striving for a more perfect union

The quick-change system on Herrmann's HiQ evolution unit helps users switch rapidly between tools.

Branson's SW300 spin welder updated its servomotor and drive, with accuracy now within ±.1°.

Welding and joining technologies are promoting efficiency, productivity and flexibility in their newest offerings, allowing part processors to more easily become system suppliers and add assembly to their services.

To the tunes Richard Strass's Thus Spoke Zarathustra (think '2001: A Space Odyssey'), Herrmann Ultrasonics (Karlsbad, Germany and Bartlett, IL) used the Fakuma trade show in Germany in October to launch the company's newest development, the HiQ evolution, which officials at the company say will help processors significantly reduce non-productive time and give them the flexibility to take on more, different projects. According to Volker Aust, product manager, the HiQ includes more than 180 innovations, with development taking more than two years. One of the key advances, according to Aust and Thomas Herrmann, managing director, who moved back to Germany recently from the States to take over the company founded by his father, has been the ability to cut tool-change time, and thereby reduce down time, boost welding time, and make it easier to switch between applications. A single handle is used to adjust the tool holder, with users offered up to 390 mm of adjustment.

The company says it essentially re-discovered the pneumatics for controlling sonotrode motion, with the most notable improvement being that it now only retracts as far as necessary for part removal and the loading of new, unwelded parts. Consumption of compressed air may be reduced by up to 80% as a result, so energy savings are an added bonus. Welding tools can be changed without hand tools, and the welding station's height can be altered from the front of the unit-one of the many user-recommended changes the firm says it integrated into the system. The company recently almost doubled its manufacturing space, a reflection of its belief in the market potential for the new welding system, says Herrmann. It is available with 20-, 30-, and 35-kHz digital generators, with models from 1200 to 6000W. Ten already are in use at selected customers that are working with Hermann to commercially field-test the units.

Also addressing processing speed and efficiency, a pair of new laser-welding systems promises faster welding times than competitive laser techniques. The Radiance 3G and 3I from Branson Ultrasonics are the newest additions to the company's laser line, offering the standard benefits associated with laser welding, including cleaner welds, no movement between parts, quieter operation, and uniform melt on both part halves. In addition, laser technology can join dissimilar materials, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, acrylics, elastomers, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, high-density polyethylene, low-density polyethylene, polyethylene terephtalate glycol, and nylon.

Offering a cell approach for welding, Dukane Corp. has created an enclosure that is only as large as the equipment inside, in a new work cell can accommodate ultrasonic, spin, or heat-staking processes. The Lean cell features casters for mobility as well as built-in leveling and is constructed from aluminum extrusions with a 1-inch-thick MIC-6 anodized tool-plate table top. . Safety was also considered in the equipment's design, with features like OSHA-approved anti-tie down activation switches and electronically interlocked panels. In addition, the pneumatics have an OSHA lock-out device and filter regulator with soft-start dump valve that is said to boost protection during maintenance and setup. The automatic pneumatic-powered sliding door on the cell's front is counter balanced to meet low force pinch requirements.

In terms of ergonomics, Dukane reports that all interactions are within the reach of a sitting operator, with the activation-switch position being adjustable along with the place of part bins, and the user interface in the operator's line of sight. By request, the cell can be built with sound-deadening material.

Hands-on welding

Weighing under 1 lb and featuring a soft-rubber-encased ergonomic, pistol grip, a hand probe is billed as ideally suited for difficult-to-reach assemblies or ones too large for a press system. The 60-kHz 600W grip probe from Dukane uses that company's patented solid-mount technology with no “O” rings, creating minimal deflection. Compatible with all Dukane power supplies, the hand probe also features strain reliefs, switches, and industrial connectors, as well as an 8-ft shielded cable. The hand probes can be used for short production runs requiring spot welding, staking, and inserting, providing ultrasonic assembly at relatively low cost.

Sonics & Materials Inc. (Newton, CT) has launched its own line of hand-held ultrasonic welding systems, which offers weld in digital-time and/or constant-energy mode, as well as a continuous-duty mode. The 20- and 40-kHz units have digital time controls that range from .1 to 9.9 seconds, with digital energy controls ranging from 0 to 999,999 joules. The microprocessor control offers autotune circuitry, frequency display; digital amplitude control; ultrasonic power load meter; and upper and lower weld limit settings.

An optional pistol grip is available, as well as a stapler attachment with a pivoting mechanism geared towards sealing low-production-rate clamshell packages. Optional accessories include a manual press and a plug-in foot pedal. Standard features include overload protection circuitry, overload reset, DB9 PLC I/O connector, backlit LCD display, and quick-disconnect RF converter cable. The 20-kHz unit has a standard _-inch (12.7-mm) flat-faced welding tip that attaches to an integral titanium front driver. The 40-kHz 500W model has an 8-mm threaded titanium front driver for horn attachment. For the 20-kHz system, carbide coated, flat, knurled, and custom faced tips are available, with horns, including custom designed ones, supplied separately for the 40-kHz 500W model.

Take a spin

A new line of servodriven spin welders can be configured for manual, semi-automated, or fully-automated manufacturing environments, with the updated servomotor and drive promising accuracy within ±.1°. The SW300 spin welder from Branson has new mechanical, electrical, and pneumatic designs incorporated, as well as a linear encoder to ease setup by allowing for collapse and absolute-height modes. Intended to weld circular joint interface parts with accurate and consistent results, the spin welder also offers an optional vacuum union/spindle for loading parts in the spin tool prior to cycle start. Rotation can be clockwise or counterclockwise, and in terms of control, the SW300 has a 6-inch color touch-screen with user configurable I/O (four of each), programmable home position, parameter limits, the ability to store up to 20 recipes, and an RS 232 data port.

Plastic Assembly Systems (PAS; Bethany, CT) has its own servodriven spin welding products, with the biggest advantage, according to the manufacturer, being no mechanical adjustments, with all adjustments handles via a touch-screen display. PAS says the systems, which have a standard 20-inch stroke, allow processors to run minute to large-diameter parts. Part orientation can be controlled to within ±.1°, with axis speeds from 1-3000 RPM. In terms of standard spin torque, PAS says its unit has more than 2 tons of available down force. The servodriven Z-Axis can be controlled within .0001 of an inch.

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