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About Hot Plate Welding

Hot Plate Welding is a thermal welding technique capable of producing strong, air-tight welds in thermoplastic
parts. When using thermal energy in a tightly controlled manner, thermoplastic parts can be heated to molten
temperatures very quickly and then joined together.
Thermal heat is introduced to the interface of each part half by a precision temperature controlled platen consisting
of multiple uniform temperature distribution cartridge heaters.

Hot Plate Welding Process:

Step One
Part halves are placed into and securely gripped by precision holding fixtures which insure adequate support and
accurate alignment of the part halves throughout the hot plate welding process.

Step Two
To heat the part joint area, a thermally heated platen is placed between the part halves. The holding fixtures close
to compress and melt the part halves to be welded against the platen, displacing material at the joint area only

Step Three
Compression and material displacement continue until precision hard-stops built into the tooling are met. Thermal
heat continues to conduct into the material even though compression and displacement have stopped.

Step Four
After the joint area reaches molten temperature, the holding fixtures open and the heat platen is withdrawn.

Step Five
The holding fixtures then close, forcing the two parts together until hard-stops on the holding fixtures come into
contact with one another.

Step Six
When cooling is complete, the gripping mechanism in one of the holding fixtures releases the part, the holding
fixtures open and the finished part may be removed.
Our existing line of hot plate welders is extensive. Vertical or horizontal platen welder configurations are available
(see below). From manually loaded and unloaded machines to semi and fully automated in-line systems, each of
our hot plate welders is designed to accommodate a specific range of application requirements.

Vertical vs. Horizontal Platen Systems:


Vertical

Horizontal

Easy to manually load both part halves positively


into the tooling, ensuring precise, repeatable
alignment during welding.

More difficult to manually load both part halves positively as


access to upper tool can be ergonomically challenging.

Not ideal when internal componentry is loose inside


the part halves prior to welding.

Ideal system for part designs where internal components are


loose inside the lower part half prior to welding.

No simple option for operator to load part halves


outside the machine.

Allows option of manually loading part halves outside the


machine (requires drawer load and automatic top-half part
pick-up).

No special location features need be designed into


the part halves or tooling for accurate alignment.

Requires special location features be designed into molded


parts themselves or the tooling (increases tooling
cost/complexity) when using automatic top-half parts pickup.

Faster tool changeover than most horizontal


machines offered today.

Slower tooling changeover typically.

More complex to automate (often requires


roboticaction).

Very easy to automate when optional drawer load and


automatic part drop to conveyor belt is used.

Not ideal for automatic part drop (onto conveyor


belt) after welding.

Allows easy automatic part drop onto conveyor belt after


welding (when equipped with optional drawer load).

Twin motion (left and right) fixturing allows


independent control of force/speed on each part

Single motion (upper only) fixturing allows independent


control of force/speed of upper part half only.

half, both against heat platen and against each


other.

Critical Hot Plate Welder Parameters:

Temperature
Melt Time (parts against heated platen)
Transition (aka: Open) Time between Melt and Weld/Seal Steps
Weld/Seal Time (parts clamped together)
Melt Depth (controlled by stops)
Weld/Seal Depth (controlled by stops)
Melt Force
Weld/Seal Force

Time and Temperature:

The platen temperature to melt the part interface depends on the type of plastic being joined. Each thermoplastic
has a characteristic melt time/temperature curve, and a weld can be produced at any temperature on the curve.
Typically the highest possible temperature at the shortest time is selected to minimize cycle times.The typical hot
plate temperature range is 300 to 950F.

Types of Hot Plate Welds:


Low Temperature

Temperatures less than 500F


Low temperature tools require Teflon coated heat platen inserts or Teflon cloth.
Typically coating/cloth needs replacement every 1500-8000 cycles.
Used on Medical Applications even with High Temp materials to eliminate contamination / discoloration / maximize
weld strength.
Typical cycle time is 20-40seconds.

High Temperature

Temperatures higher than 500F


High temperature tools are typically manufactured using P-20 tool steel.
No melt release coatings typically required
Melt residue smokes away or requires brush cleaning(Nylon)
Smoke/Fumes present: requires exhaust/smoke removal or aircleaning
Typical cycle time is 10-30 seconds.

Non-contact

Typically temperatures higher than 900F


No residue on platen.
No material discoloration.
Precise molding tolerances required.
Not limited to flat mating surfaces.
Typical cycle time exceeds 40 seconds.
Technique is most complicated and least often used in production hot plate welding.

High Temp vs. Low Temp Hot Plate Welding:


HIGH TEMP CONTACT WELDING

LOW TEMP CONTACT WELDING

(above 500F)

(500F or less)

Faster cycle times:

15 to 45 seconds typical

Slower cycle times:

30 to 60 seconds typical

No coating required. Residue smokes off through


Exhaust Fan. Lower maintenance.

Teflon coating or Teflon Coated Fiberglass Cloth


required on heat platen or insert surface. Higher
maintenance.

Process works well for a variety of materials (some


limitations).

Process works well for a variety of materials (some


limitations).

Process can join certain dissimilar materials (wider


range).

Process can join certain dissimilar materials


(limited number).

Not ideal for welding Polyethylene (material excessively


sticks to the heat platen core).

Ideal for welding Polyethylene.

Easy welding of Polypropylene.

Can weld Polypropylene (low temp required in


Medical Cleanroom environment).

Highest strength when welding Nylon. Involves


ultra high-temperature heat platen cores which must be
scrubbed with metal brushes every cycle to clean off
build-up of residual material.

Lower strength when welding Nylon (temperature


too low).

Fillers in the material can build up on the heat


platen requiring periodic cleaning (automatic
cleaning systems are available on several models).

Fillers in the material seldom cause need for


increased cleaning as buildup only occurs when
Teflon coating/cloth needs to be changed.

Smoke and fumes are common as residue is burned


on heat platen core between cycles (ventilation may be
required).

Virtually no smoke or fumes during welding process


at low temp.

Contact vs. Non-Contact Hot Plate Welding:


CONTACT WELDING

NON-CONTACT WELDING

(High or Low Temp)

(Very High Temp above 900F)

Faster cycle times:

15 to 60 seconds typical

Slower cycle times:

30 to 90 seconds typical

Higher Maintenance. Teflon coating or Teflon Coated


Fiberglass Cloth required on heat platen or insert
surface with some materials. Some fillers in high temp
materials leave residue on platen which must be
brushed/wiped several times per day.

Lower Maintenance. No coating required regardless


of the material to be welded.

Parts can be welded without absolute precision


as joint surfaces will be made parallel to one another
during melt phase when polymer is making contact with
heat platen.

Parts must be molded more precisely as there is no


contact based melt step to flatten/parallel joint surfaces.

Flash traps may be required for cosmetic


applications when welding with contact.

Due to limited displaced material, flash traps are


often not required.

Temperatures typically below 900F. Limited risk of


thermal damage to non-joint areas of parts in
close proximity to heat source.

Temperatures often in excess of 900F. High risk of


thermal damage to non-joint areas of parts in
close proximity to heat source