in Plastic Joining

A versatile method for joining plastics with precision and strength, spin welding automation could turbocharge your operations.

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Spin Welding's Role in Industrial Manufacturing

Compatible materials can be bonded together simply based on the friction generated through forceful contact between them. This joining style, known as friction welding, can be used in several distinct methods depending on the parts being joined. One of these variations, which serves parts that can be rotationally joined, is known as spin welding. Spin welding plastic is used to fabricate everything from engineered fluid manifolds to consumer water bottles. Spin welding is a versatile method for joining plastics with precision and strength.

The many benefits of spin welding include:

  • Very fast weld times (within a matter of seconds).
  • No consumables or other materials are required.
  • Joining of both similar as well as dissimilar materials.
  • Extremely repeatable and consistent.
  • Creation of no-leak hermetic seals.
  • Multiple joint designs that balance strength, cost and complexity.
  • Very high accuracy using self-aligning, self-locating joint profiles.
  • Precise, down to <1° centerline and <0.001" dimensional alignment.
  • Highly energy efficient (especially with inertia welding systems). Only the heat generated by friction serves to melt the plastic and metal base materials together.

The Spin Welding Process

All formats of friction welding operate on the principle of heat-induced fusion between separate materials. Spin welding machines generate this friction by rotating one part into a fixed second part while applying pressure between both parts, creating localized heat at the contact point between the two materials.

Spin welding serves round (and non-round), balance-able parts that can be rotated at high RPM (often up to 16,000 RPM) about a common centerline. As lateral force is applied between the parts, the heated interface blends together, co-mingling the molecular structure of both pieces into one.

Once the joint is fused, force is removed, the now singular part is allowed to cool and the spin welding process is complete.

The machinery used to produce spin welds often looks like a lathe or drill press, the former rotating parts about a horizontal axis, and the latter about a vertical access. Aside from their orientation, spin welders typically come in one of two drive styles: inertia spin welders and continuous spin welders. Inertia welders rely on the kinetic energy of a flywheel to rotate parts together, whereas a continuous welder uses a coupled motor slowed by a mechanical brake.

Inertia welding is great for sensitive parts that can be damaged by applied rotational force during the welding process. Continuous welding is more advanced and offers complete rotational control throughout the welding cycle, but at a higher cost and with the complexity of the additional braking system.

In all cases, spin welding can be powered by electric (servo) or pneumatic motors.

Materials and Applications in Industrial Spin Welding

Selecting ideal applications for spin welding starts by evaluating the materials to be used. Spin welding works with a wide range of metals and thermoplastics, bonding similar and dissimilar materials together with relative ease.

Common materials include:

  • ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).
  • Polycarbonate.
  • Polyethylene.
  • Polypropylene.
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
  • Steel alloys.
  • Aluminum.
  • Magnesium.
  • Even glass in specific cases.

Automating Industrial Spin Weld Fabrication

Given the high RPM and forces involved, spin welding machinery almost always comes with some level of automation onboard. Semi-automated spin welders tend to have automatic motor controls that achieve a tightly defined rotational speed, but rely on manual operation of the press stroke that brings the separate pieces to be welded together. Fully automated spin welders use both automatic motor and linear actuation controls to complete welds without human operation.

Here at AMS, we offer two plastic joining platforms to manufacturers seeking to automate their spin welding plastic and metal fabrication processes.

Semi-Automatic Spin Welding

Our AMS PJ-301 is a versatile, semi-standard system for spin welding, staking, textile welding, forming and spot welding. With semi-automatic operation, poka-yoke functions and outstanding productivity, the PJ-301 is an effective general-purpose plastic joining machine. This system is easily reconfigurable for future requirements.

High-Volume Spin Welding

Our AMS PJ-401 is designed for high-volume spin welding, ultrasonic plastic welding, staking and forming applications requiring precise joint profiles and specifications, exact locations, high levels of error-proofing and repeatability to ensure consistent joining. The PJ-401 offers larger part sizes, higher volumes, shorter cycle times, advanced recipe-driven PLC controls and extensive data reporting.

Rounding Up With Spin Welding

In industrial manufacturing processes, bonding separate components together is a well-known quantity: The only question is which of many bonding processes to select for a given application. Out of all the options, spin welding provides a unique blend of very fast cycle times, high weld integrity and low complexity that makes it so attractive to a wide range of applications.

Automated spin welding processes are even more appealing for high-volume, competitive manufacturers, especially those working with thermoplastic and light metal materials. Want to know more about spin welding? Contact us today for a free application review.

Surefire Automation Plan

  • Share your automation goals with one of our application engineers.
  • We’ll guide you through our proven process.
  • Sit back and enjoy the outstanding results.