Laser Welding

Application-driven solutions designed for your assembly

How to Design for Laser Plastic Welding

Learn how to design your parts for laser plastic welding. Registration is free.

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Configurable, cost-effective laser plastic welding that meets your needs

Are you tired of trying to fit your plastic 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.

The Plastic Laser Welding Process

Laser plastic welding uses a precise IR laser beam that is transmitted through a transmissive material and absorbed by 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.

Clamp

The two parts are clamped together with the IR transparent material on top and the absorbing material on the bottom.

Heat

The laser is transmitted through the top component and absorbed by the lower component, heating and melting the joint.

Cool

The laser turns off and the clamping force is maintained to allow the joint to cool and solidify.

We’ve been doing IR for 20+ years.

Extol’s laser plastic welding solutions use infrared energy to melt and weld plastic. The IR energy used in laser welding is similar in many ways to the IR in Extol’s InfraStake technology. InfraStake uses broad-spectrum IR energy. This means that the IR emitting from an InfraStake bulb covers a range of wavelengths. In laser welding, the IR energy is a specific wavelength, not a range. And there are a handful of wavelengths used, from 600 to 2000 nm. Most often, a 980 nm wavelength is an optimal choice. We can also control the beam size, speed, power, and number of passes to optimize it for the application.

Application-driven laser welding solutions

Many laser welding applications need a special solution to optimize speed and performance. We custom-tailor each laser welding machine to the application. That means, that the machine can be as large or as small as you need it to be. It can apply force using whatever method you want. And it can use the laser technology that is best-suited for your parts.

Laser Welding Benefits

Clean

Laser welding can minimize or eliminate unwanted particulate and visually unacceptable flash by precisely applying the right amount of energy to the weld surface. Excess heat isn’t needed to generate strong, clean, and repeatable welds.

Fast

Extremely focused energy means the plastic is heated exceptionally fast. This translates to fast weld times.

Precise

Miniaturized part designs and closer proximity of internal components is possible with the control and accuracy of Extol’s laser plastic welding system. The energy goes exactly where it needs to on every part.

Laser Welding Technologies

Contour

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

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

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

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.

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.

Ready to get started?

Tell us about your project and how we can help. Get your plastic assembly equipment and services done your way.

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