Infrared welding system offers high welding seam strength

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

For some years now, infrared welding has been gaining significance as compared with hot gas welding and established processes such as hot plate welding and vibration welding. Now, a leading provider of infrared welding systems has developed this technology to series-ready status for a number of applications.

Contactless infrared welding of plastics has a number of advantages and is suitable for both small and large components.

Frimo offers the Highspeed, an infrared welding system specifically for small to medium-sized components. These can include everything from small air valves to various pipes, containers or engine compartment applications to interior components such as glove boxes.

A special drive system allows for movement speed, which has not been possible in infrared welding technology until now. In terms of critical changeover times, these comparably high speeds are becoming ever more necessary for energy-efficient and strong welding of high-performance plastics. For this reason, the Highspeed infrared welding systems is equipped with linear motors. These motors are characterised by a high degree of availability, low maintenance, a high degree of repeat accuracy and low-noise operation. High precision is guaranteed through the retrieval of actual values from the route, allowing any slips of the drive train to be completely eliminated.

As the infrared emitters are only switched on during the plastic's brief heating time, the process allows for lower consumption of resources and energy. The parameter and control options have been optimised to such an extent that it is possible to set the optimum movement and temperature values for the thermoplastic to be welded. This provides maximum strength of the welded joint, with a high degree of repeat accuracy.

Thanks to contactless heating of the plastic, infrared welding also meets increasing requirements for there to be no particles after the joining process, for example for air and oil-ducting components. Many manufacturers of such components are imposing increasingly strict standards and regulations in this area. Infrared welding is also to be recommended for the welding of reinforced high-performance plastics, such as fibreglass reinforced polyamides, which are being used more and more as structural components in lightweight construction. The process offers extremely high degrees of strength, which is of particular interest in safety-related areas, and also allows for 100% gas-tightness. Flexibility is catered for both in the use of the materials to be welded and in the design, i.e. it is even possible to weld complex 3D geometries.

The Frimo system portfolio for infrared welding currently includes six standard machines, from mini to maxi, for virtually any application. Like all Frimo JoinLine infrared welding systems, the Highspeed also allows for rapid and flexible tool changes, for example from the front or the back of the machine. The cartridge construction of the tools allows for completely flexible handling and, at the same time, ensures optimum protection of emitter blocks. Different sources of radiation are used in terms of tool technology. For the majority of applications, short-wave glass bulb emitters have proven to be suitable. These can be used either (most commonly) as a twin-tube emitters in the standard design or as an individually adapted contouring emitter.

Protective shadow plates are used to protect critical areas that are not be allowed to heat up, and can also be cooled. Depending on the requirements of the project, FRIMO now also use medium-wave infrared emitters, either as a glass emitter or as a metal foil emitter.

Frimo also offers a range of automated solutions using robots to increase availability and productivity, and the effort involved in handling components between machines is reduced.

Depending on the project and customer requirements, different production layouts and combination and/or special solutions can be realised here.

An important aspect, not just for quality assurance of safety-related components, is monitoring of the temperatures occurring on the surface of the joining partners. This system uses thermal imaging, with very small, light cameras integrated into the machines and used to guarantee complete process monitoring and documentation at all times. Data is transmitted to superordinate systems so that it can also be effectively used for remote maintenance.

The systems' control technology has been further perfected so that compensation of part tolerances within the infrared welding process is now possible for the first time. This is particularly advantageous in the case of infrared welding of gas and liquid-ducting systems. In this area of application alone, more than 30 infrared welding systems in a wide variety of designs are already in series use by various customers.

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