MANY of you will have heard of ultrasonic welding and the various applications in the manufacturing of plastic components by either joining or sealing.
To put it simply, electrical energy is converted into mechanical energy which is transferred through purpose-designed tooling called a horn or sonotrode to the material surface resulting in an extremely fast and efficient weld which remains consistent throughout the product life of the equipment. The horn is designed to deliver efficient welds in a very short cycle time; therefore welds averaging 0,1 of a second are not uncommon. The horn can vibrate between 20 000-40 000 times a second.
One company that uses ultrasonic welding in the manufacture of their various writing products is BIC South Africa, manufacturers of the iconic BIC pen which has been copied by many – but nothing beats the original. During one of the production cycles, the clear portion of the pen is joined to the main body using an ultrasonic weld.
BIC in Johannesburg approached W.Lee-Ultraplast, sole supplier of Branson welding systems in Southern Africa, with a brief to find a solution for problems with existing ultrasonic welders in their production line. There were several problems, including the fact that welding was inconsistent in quality and even that welding did not always occur, resulting in rejections. Then, European suppliers of the original equipment were not always helpful or did not have local support to back up their product. Local service engineers were not familiar enough with ultrasonics and battled to troubleshoot correctly. Spares deliveries were unreliable and took extended periods to arrive and, when they did, were often not the solution to the problem.
After careful evaluation of the production line, W.Lee-Ultraplast proposed a number of solutions, starting with in-depth training of the technicians. Ultraplast also suggested that the welding horns (that make contact with the material and cause the weld to take place) be completely redesigned. Not surprisingly, it also recommended that existing power supplies be replaced with new technology Branson units as the old ones had become unreliable.
“Same day response when support was required” was also a factor, said Bill Lee of Ultraplast.
As a result, after these changes BIC achieved a 15% increase in production rate, with no more downtime due to poor or erratic welds.
BIC Tunisia was experiencing similar problems and as a result of the Ultraplast training, BIC SA foreman Albert le Grange was able to visit the plant in North Africa and help resolve their problems. This has resulted in BIC Tunisia also ordering Ultrasonic equipment from W.Lee-Ultraplast.
“We at W.Lee-Ultraplast are always interested in looking for solutions to your problems and look forward to any enquiry that may need our services,” added Bill.