When most people think of the word ‘welding,’ they automatically picture someone joining together two pieces of metal. However, it isn’t just metal that can be welded. Plastic welding is very common, and simply means the joining of two thermoplastics at a molecular level. Just like metal welding, plastic welding consists of three stages: pressing together of the materials, heating them, and then the cool down. Plastic welding provides high levels of material strength in a join, which is why it is so common to see in vehicle repairs. There are a variety of different plastic welding methods that can be used, with each offering advantages and optimal use cases.
Plastic Welding Methods
Six different methods can be used to weld plastics. The best option to use will depend largely on the type of plastic being used, the size and the shape of the plastic pieces being welded together, and how long you need the cycle time (how long the equipment can run without needing a cool-down period) to be. Each method of plastic welding has its advantages and disadvantages, which is why you must match the method to the end goal and the qualities of the plastic pieces.
– Ultrasonic Welding: This method uses high-energy transmissions through the plastic parts being joined. This is a common method as it can be applied to a wide combination of different materials, although it is often restricted to lap joints.
– Laser Welding: Heating and melting plastic via the use of laser radiation that is passed through one piece and into the joining piece, laser welding creates a very clean weld. It can be used to heat large surface areas and is one of the faster methods of plastic welding. It is less commonly seen because it requires specialist training due to the use of radiation.
– Linear Vibration Welding: Highly energy efficient, linear vibration welding works by using friction heat on the two separate pieces of plastic that are to be joined. One part is moved while being put under pressure against the piece it is being attached to. More pressure is then applied so that as the heat is lost the two parts solidify as one.
– Orbital Vibration Welding: This method also uses friction to generate heat that is applied to the joining pieces. While this method is very useful for welding irregular shapes, it is highly sensitive and cannot be used for all welds.
– Spin Welding: A very simple method that requires less training to operate, spin welding also uses frictional heat to join plastics. At least one of the parts will need to be circular, and there is always a lot of preparation that needs to be done before the weld is done.
– Hot Plate Welding: Using a heated plate to directly apply thermal heat to the plastics means that this method can be used in even highly complex welds. Even curved joints can be welded together, and hot plate welding has a very short cycle time. This is a method that can’t often be used on particularly thin materials, and there are potentially high running costs.
For the manufacturing of car parts, medical devices, and in the life sciences industry, plastic welding is used in thousands of different ways on a huge range of products. Plastic welding is a smart way to making product less susceptible to corrosion. When products need to be made of plastic, it is not always possible to make them out of a single piece. Plastic welding is a faster and more cost-effective means of joining separate pieces so that a single product is created, making it much more valuable than alternative options.
Chelsea Huber is a digital marketing expert, content creator, lover of social media and has an eye for fashion/styling. When she is not at her computer you can find her at the beach and playing with her great dane, Henley.