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How many times have you stared at a plastic staking machine and wondered how long of a cool time is necessary to prevent the material from sticking to the forming tool when it retracts? Will the settings need to be adjusted after the machine has been running for a while? You need to make good parts, but you also want to optimize the machine cycle time. And naturally, the staking modules need to be small enough to fit your application. Automotive lighting and electronics manufacturers especially need a staking process that fits in tight spaces, keeps up with production, and is simple to set up and operate. Enter nanoSTAKE®, a patent-pending, revolutionary new staking technology that fits the bill.
What if I told you that you can reduce weight and space of a headliner assembly while attaching B-side headliner components? It must be expensive, right? Wrong. In one application, cost was reduced by $3.27 while saving 1.46 lbs and 1 mm of stack height per vehicle. Most automakers look for ways to save a few ounces per vehicle, let alone almost a pound and a half! These savings were achieved using a process called InfraWeld®, which uses zero consumables and can change the way you manufacture headliner assemblies.
Several months ago, while spending some time in our Innovation Group, one of our company’s founders (or I can say engineers) asked me to come and take a look at something. Standing in our innovation area, Chip walks me over to a workbench where I see an unassuming setup with a small pneumatic cylinder which holds a pencil-shaped device, only shorter. It’s small with what appears to be undersized wires and a hose coming out of the top. It’s hovering over one of Extol’s plastic test coupons which I’ve staked or riveted using ultrasonic and InfraStake modules hundreds, if not thousands of times. Nearby there is a start button waiting to be pushed.
When welding parts in production, you want to have reliable and consistent assemblies. You may have been churning out ‘good’ parts for years, but suddenly you are finding part inconsistencies and failures when none of your parameters have changed! What happened?
The origins of the verb “trend” mean “revolve or rotate” which has become “change or develop in a general direction”. It is appropriate that we discuss trends with respect to the auto market as the wheels revolve and the axle rotates, so do the trends change. Jabil recently commissioned a survey (source) of the automotive and transportation industry seeking to understand trends from OEM’s and Tier 1’s in this market sector (full disclosure: Jabil is a customer of Extol).
The moment is here, the process is set, the machine has cycled. How does it look? “GASP!” My staked part has FLASH!!! If you are not familiar with flash, I’m referring to the displaced plastic material from a staking or welding process that extrudes outwards and does not contribute to the strength of the joint. Flash may be observed as fine dust surrounding the joint, thin strands of plastic material in a disorganized clump, or even smooth rounded material adjacent to the weld joint. So why does flash occur in plastic staking and how can you optimize stake appearance?