What is 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.
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The two parts are clamped together with the IR transparent material on top and the absorbing material on the bottom.
The laser is transmitted through the top component and absorbed by the lower component, heating and melting the joint.
The laser turns off and the clamping force is maintained to allow the joint to cool and solidfy.
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There are several myths about laser plastic welding machines and their technology. Let us clear things up a bit. These are some of the top laser plastic welding myths DEBUNKED…
“I need clean plastic parts!” We hear this from our customers all the time. We can help. Extol now offers a cleaner way to weld plastic parts together.
Humans have been fascinated by reflections for millennia. Narcissus was bewitched by his reflection in a pool of water and mirrors have magic powers in fairy tales. Speaking of mirrors, they are simply smooth surfaces with shiny, dark backgrounds.
Find answers to all your questions about laser plastic welding.
What materials can be laser welded?
Most thermoplastic materials can be laser welded. The general rule of thumb is if they can be welded with another joining technology, they can be welded with laser. The two materials being welded together should be similar. Meaning, they should have the same chemical structure, overlapping melt temperatures, and their melt flow index should be of the same order.
How strong are laser welded parts?
Typically, laser welded parts are stronger than ultrasonic welding, and at least as strong as hot-plate and vibration welding.
Does the top part material have to be transparent to be laser welded?
Yes and no. The top part can look opaque, even black, to the human eye and still be able to be laser welded. It just needs to be transmissive at the correct IR wavelength. There are ways to color plastic parts that make them look opaque while still being transparent to IR energy.
Laser Welding Technologies
Contour laser welding uses one continuous pass of the laser along the weld path with enough energy to melt and weld the parts. This works well for flat to flat weld joints.
Quasi-simultaneous laser welding uses many very fast passes along the weld path to simulate the laser energy being applied to the whole weld joint simultaneously. This works well in T-style weld joints to get consistent, simultaneous displacement in the weld joint.
Line beam laser welding uses optics to spread the laser energy into a curtain that is passed over the part like a wide paintbrush. This works well for small intricate parts and larger flat area welding.
Masking uses a similar line beam curtain laser, but with a precision-cut mask over the part to shield the areas that don't require laser energy. This works well for ultra-precise welding with weld ribs less than 0.7 mm wide.
Configurable laser welding that meets your needs
Are you tired of trying to fit your laser welding application into the constraints of one-size-fits-all laser welding machines? At Extol, we take a different approach. We design each laser welding solution around your application. That way, you get the optimum performance and cycle time for your needs.
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