Learning Center

Explore our Learning Center to learn more about welding and assembly processes. Read blog posts filled with helpful tips and information about automation and plastics joining technologies. Or start with the Plastic Welding Processes section to get the basics.


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Read our blog posts about staking, laser welding, 3D printing, and much more.

Plastic Welding Processes

Plastic welding is the process of heating up two plastic parts and bonding them together by applying pressure. There are several different welding technologies that differ in their application of heat and pressure, but the basic steps are heat, apply pressure (force), and cool. The weld created between the parts is a strong molecular bond and depending on the welding technology, is hermetically sealed. Learn more about specific joining processes below.


Plastic staking is a method of joining components together using a molded stud or boss to mechanically retain a mating component. Heat is applied to the boss, softening it, and a forming tool is used to reshape the material into a cap or stake.

Technology Examples:

  • nanoSTAKE
  • InfraStake
  • Ultrasonic Staking
  • Hot-Air Staking

Hot-Plate Welding

Hot-plate welding is the process of welding two plastic parts together using a heated tooling plate. A weld rib or bead on each component is brought into contact with the hot plate. Heat conducts into the weld rib causing it to melt. The heated tool is then removed and the parts are pushed together until they bond to one another.

Technology Examples:

  • Rapid Conductor
  • Compact FUSION

Laser Plastic Welding

Laser welding uses a precise IR laser beam that is directed through a transmissive material and penetrated into an absorptive material. The two materials are held in tight contact with each other and the joint between them heats up and melts as energy from the laser is absorbed. The result is a clean weld with minimal flash.

Technology Examples:

  • Extol configures laser welding machines around the application

Spin Welding

Spin welding is a method of joining plastic components together with surface friction concentrated in a circular weld joint. One part is spun relative to another and force is applied, causing the material to heat and melt. The spinning process stops and the parts continue to be pressed together while they bond together.

Technology Example:


IR Welding

IR welding is the non-contact welding process that joins two plastic parts together with IR energy. IR emitters heat a weld rib or bead on each component. The IR source is removed and the parts are pushed together until they are welded.

Technology Examples:

  • InfraGuide
  • Quartz IR
  • Metal Foil IR

Through-Transmission IR Welding

Innovative through-transmission infrared welding in a compact package. This technology uses focused IR light energy to replace adhesives. Useful in both linear and spot welding applications.

Technology Examples:

  • InfraWeld

Hybrid Vibration Welding

Two components are vibrated in shear against each other, generating heat from friction. Vibration stops and pressure is maintained while the components bond to one another. Hybrid vibration welding adds an IR preheat at the beginning of the cycle to soften the rib and reduce the amount of particulate flash generated from the vibration cycle.

Technology Examples:

  • CEMAS Vibration Welders

Ultrasonic Welding

Ultrasonic welding uses high-frequency vibration to melt and weld plastic. A tool vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies and causes concentrated molecular vibration in the weld joint. The friction between the molecules heats and melts the plastic. Once the vibration is stopped, the tool maintains a holding pressure on the joint to create a bond.

Technology Examples:

  • Dukane Ultrasonics
  • Branson Ultrasonics
  • Herrmann Ultrasonics
Extol Obtains FDA Registration to Offer Turnkey Manufacturing for 3D Printed Medical Devices

Extol Obtains FDA Registration to Offer Turnkey Manufacturing for 3D Printed Medical Devices

Michigan-based digital manufacturer, Extol, Inc., announces FDA registration for contract manufacturing of 3D printed medical devices. The FDA registration will allow Extol to expand its offerings for the life-sciences industry. It will immediately impact Extol’s capability to provide complete solutions for additive manufacturing of medical devices for the orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) market.

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Alternatives to Ultrasonic Welding

Alternatives to Ultrasonic Welding

If you’re familiar with plastic welding, you’ve probably encountered ultrasonic welding. It’s the most well-known plastic welding technology. But just because it’s popular, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for every application. It has many benefits, but also some drawbacks. What do you do if ultrasonic welding isn’t your best option? And how do you know?

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Get low cost, strong, lightweight tooling faster with MJF 3D printing

Get low cost, strong, lightweight tooling faster with MJF 3D printing

We are always looking for innovative ways to solve customer challenges. Recently a customer came to us needing a creative solution for their application. We worked with them to develop a custom automation machine that capitalized on additive manufacturing. In this case, 3D printed tooling helped us produce cost-effective and easy-to-use equipment.

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Introducing LaserLock™ Plastic Weld Tooling

Introducing LaserLock™ Plastic Weld Tooling

Have you seen laser plastic welding applications that are tricky to tool? How do you make sure the parts align properly every time? We have a solution for you! Introducing LaserLock™ plastic weld tooling.
Ensure consistent, strong welds with Extol’s patent-pending LaserLock™ plastic weld tooling. LaserLock tooling repeatably locates and holds your plastic parts inside the laser welding machine, which is crucial for success. This solution makes process setup easy and allows for more flexibility in your part design.

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4 Steps to Unlocking Innovation with 3D Printing

4 Steps to Unlocking Innovation with 3D Printing

3D printing a single rapid prototype is now the accepted best practice for engineering and product development. But what if you want to take the next step to create even more value? How do you find and develop successful applications for functional prototypes and production?
As volumes increase to 10’s, 100’s, and 1000’s, the cost of 3D printing can become more difficult to justify. While it may take more effort, it also has the potential for a bigger payoff. Follow these 4 steps to unlock innovation and the full potential of 3D printing.

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