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What Is Ultrasonic Welding: Working Principle, Applications, and Pros

Welding is different from other joining mechanisms; it uses heat instead of adhesive or riveting. There are two types of welding based on two processes of heat application. The one common category that uses direct heat application is TIG and MIG welding, and the other is ultrasonic welding.

Ultrasonic welding is a convenient way of attaching thermoplastics and is very popular in the welding industry. This technique is perfect for mass production as it is easily automated, economical, and fast. 

In this article, we will give details about ultrasonic welding to understand its working principle, applications, and pros.

a schematic representation of two configurations for ultrasonic welding, a technique that uses high-frequency ultrasonic acoustic vibrations to join materials

Ultrasonic Welding: Definition

Ultrasonic welding, which is a solid-state welding technique that uses indirect heat to fuse together materials, most commonly thermoplastics. It works by converting changing electrical energy into mechanical vibrations. This type of welding uses high frequencies of ultrasonic energy (20–40 kHz) to produce mechanical vibrations of low amplitude (1–25 μm).

At the joint contact of the pieces that are being welded, the vibrations produce heat. This heat is what melts the thermoplastic materials and forms the weld after cooling. With typical weld periods of 0.1 to 1.0 seconds, ultrasonic welding is the quickest known welding process.

Compared to traditional techniques like MIG and TIG welding, ultrasonic welding is a distinct and extremely precise welding process. When it comes to combining thermoplastics and some metals, ultrasonic welding is effective and economical. This is because it doesn’t require filler materials like other procedures.

Because it does not need external heat sources or filler materials, ultrasonic welding is appropriate for certain applications. These include areas where low thermal distortion and high precision are essential, like automotive, electronics, medical device, and packaging sectors.

Ultrasonic Welding: Working Principle

The fundamental working of ultrasonic welding is based on the utilization of ultrasonic energy to attach things together. Listed below are the essential parts of an ultrasonic welding system. 

1. Anvil or Fixture

2. Booster

3. Sonotrode

4. Transducer

Transducer: The function of a transducer is to use ultrasonic frequencies (20-70kHz) and lead the conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy.

Booster: The booster prepares and amplifies the materials that are to be welded for sonotrode.

Sonotrode: The sonotrode’s job is to apply mechanical vibrations to the materials being welded. 

Anvil or Fixture: The anvil or fixture is assigned the task of maintaining alignment and supporting the components.

two distinct setups for ultrasonic welding, a process that uses ultrasonic vibrations to generate heat and join materials under pressure

At the start of the process of ultrasonic welding, you need to apply pressure on the materials to be welded. This is to ensure close contact at the joint interface. Then, the ultrasonic vibrations are started, which leads to the fast oscillation of the molecules of the materials.

This oscillation creates friction and heat at contact, which is the core component of the process. The thermoplastic materials become flexible due to this heating and then easily fuse together.

The efficacy of ultrasonic welding is dependent on some factors, which are mentioned below.

1. Amplitude,

2. Pressure, 

3. Welding time,

4. Material characteristics, etc.

The maximum displacement of ultrasonic vibrations is referred to as amplitude. Amplitude has a direct impact on the quantity of heat produced at the joint interface. 

Pressure guarantees good material-to-material contact and facilitates consistent bonding and heating. The length of the energy application is determined by the welding time. It needs to be regulated to attain the best possible weld without degrading the material or melting it too much.

Viscosity, melting point, and thermal conductivity of the material are all also important considerations in ultrasonic welding. This method works wonderfully for thermoplastics with low melting temperatures and high molecular mobility. The reason is that they readily flow and soften when subjected to ultrasonic vibrations. 

For ultrasonic welding, the weld quality is checked according to factors such as appearance, weld consistency, and binding strength. To guarantee a sturdy and dependable binding between the materials, sufficient pressure and energy input must be used.

The regularity of the welded junction over the entire assembly is referred to as weld consistency. However, surface finish, flash formation, and weld bead size are parts of appearance. Apart from joining thermoplastics, ultrasonic welding finds application in cutting textiles or films and integrating metal components into plastic parts. 

Applications Of Ultrasonic Welding 

Ultrasonic welding has various applications in significant fields. It makes the processes simpler and better. 

A few of these applications are listed below.

Automotive Industry

Ultrasonic welding is used widely in the automotive industry. Certain uses comprise fusing plastic parts, including door panels, dashboard assemblies, and even pieces found beneath the hood. These welds provide a high level of structural integrity, vibration resistance, and visual appeal.

Furthermore, sensors, wire harnesses, and battery packs for electric vehicles are made using ultrasonic welding. Ultrasonic welding can be utilized for sealing tasks, including sealing plastic housings for electrical modules. In automobiles, it is also used for sealing parts that carry fluid, like tanks and reservoirs.

Packaging and Food Industry

The sealing of thermoplastic films and the creation of blister packs, pouches, and clamshell packaging are common applications of ultrasonic welding. By sealing quickly and effectively without extra adhesives or sealing chemicals, this approach preserves product integrity and extends shelf life.

Moreover, attractive packaging designs with improved barrier qualities can be produced thanks to ultrasonic welding. This type of packaging possesses the ability to shield perishable goods from moisture, oxygen, and pollutants.

Textile and Nonwoven Fabrication: 

Ultrasonic welding is used in the textile and nonwoven sectors for a number of purposes. These purposes include edge sealing, quilting, embossing, and attaching synthetic textiles. With this method, bonding is done quickly and precisely without the need for glue or sewing.

Ultrasonic welding produces seams that are both long-lasting and attractive. Strong and leak-proof seals are crucial for the manufacturing of disposable hygiene items. In such situations, ultrasonic welding saves the day; examples include surgical gowns, sanitary napkins, and diapers.

Vibrantly colored draped fabrics in red, yellow, blue, and green, highlighting texture and depth in textile fabrication

Renewable Energy

Solar panels, battery packs, and wind turbine components are assembled with ultrasonic welding in the renewable energy industry. This process makes it easier to connect components such as polymer substrates, aluminum frames, and solar cells. This guarantees the stability and effectiveness of renewable energy systems. 

Sustainable technologies are advanced by the mass manufacture of battery modules. These modules are for energy storage systems and electric cars, all made possible by ultrasonic welding.

In Injection Molding

Injection molding frequently uses ultrasonic welding to attach thermoplastic components efficiently and precisely. This type of welding has a number of benefits for the injection molding industry. A few of these benefits are given below.

Speed

High-volume production might benefit from ultrasonic welding’s quick procedure. As opposed to conventional welding techniques, it can form strong connections rapidly, enabling shorter cycle times. 

Consistency

Ultrasonic welding provides consistent results with minimal variation. The process is highly repeatable, ensuring uniformity in welded joints across production batches.

Waterproof

Ultrasonic welding benefits the injection molding procedure by making the finished product waterproof. After the process, the welds are strongly sealed, and water can not cause any damage.

Lowers Production Costs

It lowers production costs while improving the end product’s structural integrity by eliminating the requirement for adhesives or fasteners.

All things considered, its incorporation with injection molding raises output and improves product performance while upholding strict quality standards.

Pros of Using Ultrasonic Welding

Discussing ultrasonic welding and not mentioning its benefits would be wrong. Hence, here is a list of pros of using ultrasonic welding.

Speed and Efficiency

Weld times with ultrasonic welding are usually between milliseconds and seconds, making it incredibly quick. Because of its quick turnaround times, it is perfect for high-volume production in areas including electronics and the automobile industry.

Precision and Consistency

Ultrasonic welding offers exact control over the welding process, guaranteeing reliable outcomes with little variance between individual welds. Industries like electronics and aerospace, where product quality and dependability are critical, require this level of precision.

Minimal Heat Generation

Ultrasonic welding produces and employs very little heat throughout the process. On the other hand, traditional welding techniques are absolutely dependent on high temperatures to melt and fuse materials together. For heat-sensitive materials like thermoplastics, this is especially helpful as it prevents deformation, deterioration, or warping of the workpieces and surrounding components.

Low Maintenance Requirements

The wear and tear on components of ultrasonic welding equipment is not as much, resulting in low maintenance requirements. Simple routine maintenance chores like cleaning and inspection increase the overall dependability and uptime of the equipment.

Decreased Waste

By lowering the frequency of flaws and rejects, ultrasonic molding’s exact control helps reduce material waste. Ultrasonic welding also creates consistent and reliable bonds, reducing the need for overcompensation with excess materials. This may result in lower costs and a more environmentally friendly manufacturing method.

Pros of Ultrasonic Welding for Injection Molding

There are various advantages of using ultrasonic welding in injection molding. It provides a seamless fusion of materials, resulting in cleaner looks. Since injection molding uses thermoplastics in abundance, minimized heat utilization of this method prevents deformation. It’s very useful for connecting different materials together—thermoplastics included—without sacrificing structural integrity.

Moreover, automation is made easier by ultrasonic welding, which streamlines manufacturing procedures and lowers labour expenses. Its non-contact characteristics lessen the possibility of contamination in delicate or sterile settings. All things considered, ultrasonic welding offers diversity in material compatibility, improves product quality, and boosts industrial efficiency.

Industrial ultrasonic welding machine for precision joining of injection molded parts, highlighting efficiency and speed.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, ultrasonic welding is a flexible and effective method that is frequently employed to fuse thermoplastic materials together. Its application range is greatly expanded, for example, by the fact that it may be used to fuse different materials together. This can include instances such as plastic and fabric or metal and plastic.

Furthermore, ultrasonic welding offers unparalleled design versatility. The reason is that it can effortlessly weld intricate geometries and three-dimensional objects in addition to traditional flat surfaces.

Its environmental friendliness is another intriguing feature. Ultrasonic welding uses less energy and generates less waste than conventional welding techniques. This is how this technique supports environmentally friendly production processes.

Developments in ultrasonic welding technology keep improving its capabilities and creating new avenues for innovation across a range of industries. For more such useful information, you may visit our website.

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