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Articulo Ingles 2

Articulo Ingles 2

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Ultrasonic welding of micro plastic parts
W. Michaeli
a
, E. Haberstroh
b
, W.-M. Hoffmann
a
 
a
 
Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany 
b
 
Lectureship and Research Field of Rubber Technology, RWTH Aachen University, Germany 
Abstract
Due to the ongoing miniaturisation in many industrial branches plastics are increasingly applied in microsystemstechnology. To guarantee the functionality of the system suitable joining processes must be applied to join separatecomponents. Most of the welding processes commonly used for series production are not suitable for welding microparts made from plastics, since either the mechanical or the thermal load of the joining partners during the weldingprocess are too high. Only laser transmission welding and ultrasonic welding are applicable for welding complexmicro components. Since with ultrasonic welding a certain frictional load of the components cannot be avoided totallywith standard welding equipment, specially adapted machinery has to be used as it could be shown at the Institute oPlastics Processing (IKV) at RWTH Aachen University. While micro parts with two-dimensional weld seams havealready been successfully welded in previous investigations, recent research deals with the ultrasonic welding of micro parts with a more complex three-dimensional weld seam geometry. It could be shown that for appropiatewelding parameters this can be accomplished, whereby the mechanical load of the parts has to be kept as small aspossible.
Keywords:
welding,
 
ultrasonic welding, adapted welding equipment, tensile strength, weld seam morphology
1. Introduction
Due to low material costs and the great variety indesign plastics are becoming more and more importantin microsystems technology. By means of microinjection moulding and micro hot embossing, microparts can be produced in high numbers and short cycletimes.However, microsystems often consist of severalcomponents which have to be joined together in order to ensure the functionality of the system. In general,adhesive bonds of plastic parts can be realised bywelding or glueing [1, 2]. Welding has the advantagethat there is no need for additional material and that theachievable bond strength are higher compared toglueing. Moreover, there is no need for curing times.There are several welding processes applicable for welding plastics in the macro-range which use differentmechanisms of energy input. However, the microtechnology has special requirements to a suitablewelding process. Therefore, only few weldingprocesses can be applied for the welding of microplastics parts. A welding process for plastics which is suitable for the application in microtechnology has to meet thefollowing demands [3, 4]:- precisely controllable energy input- low mechanical load on the parts- low thermal load on the parts- single-stage process- small flash and no abrasion- high positioning accuracy during weldingOn account of these requirements most weldingprocesses for plastics are not suitable for microtechnology. With the heated tool welding, for example, the energy input cannot be controlled exactlyenough, so that filigree structures would be destroyed.Besides, all processes, which melt the joining parts bymeans of friction, i.e. moving both parts relatively toeach other, are not applicable in the micro-range,because the mechanical load of the components is toohigh. So sensitive structures would be demolished [4].Solely the laser transmission welding as well asthe ultrasonic welding are suited for the application inmicrotechnology. Laser radiation can be focused verywell so that the energy can be put locally and preciselymetered into the joining area. Moreover, it is acontactless process, i.e. there is no mechanical load of the parts during the welding process. Although theultrasonic welding uses friction as an energy source, itis nevertheless a possible joining process inmicrotechnology, since the material is plasticisedmainly by internal, dissipative friction between thepolymer molecules. The polymer is heated inside sothat the mechanical load of the components due toboundary friction is relatively low [1]. At the Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV) atRWTH Aachen University complex micro parts withtwo-dimensional weld seam geometries couldsuccessfully be welded by ultrasound in previousinvestigations [5]. In the following it is indicated that thisprocess can be also applied to the welding of microparts with a three-dimensional seam geometry.
2. Ultrasonic welding
Ultrasonic welding is a joining process for thermoplastics which is often applied in seriesproduction. The reason is that this process featuresvery short cycle times in the range of 0.1 to 1.0seconds. Since there are physical restrictions limitingthe maximum size of the welding tool, also called'horn', the process is constrained to small and middle-sized components with a weld seam length up to300 mm. If the joining surface or the weld length aretoo big, a homogeneous oscillation of the horn andthus a homogeneous energy input cannot be ensured[2].With ultrasonic welding the joint is realised bymelting the polymer due to dissipation, i.e. the
© 2008 Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK. Published by Whittles Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.
S. Dimov and W. Menz (Eds.)
Multi-Material Micro Manufacture
 
transformation of mechanical oscillation energy intoheat [2, 6]. A longitudinal ultrasound wave forms astanding wave within the component between the hornand the bottom of the component by reflection of thewave. The areas of maximum heating of the polymer are located where the acoustic cyclic stress has itsmaximum (Fig. 1).Their location depends on the wavelength of thesound wave amounting to approximately 5 cm to 10 cmdepending on the polymer. So ideally, the parts shouldbe designed in such a way that the joining zone islocated in these areas of maximum cyclic stress.Generally, this is not possible in practice, since thiswould limit the part design extremely. However, a crosssection narrowing can be realised by constructivemeasures, which locally increases the mechanicalcyclic stress and therefore the energy conversion [3].This can be achieved in form of an energy director or ashear joint. Thus the location of the joining area can bechosen freely. Apart from the longitudinal oscillation, alsotransversal oscillations occur which originate amongother things from the flexural oscillation of the horn.Due to the transversal oscillation there is to a relativemovement between the joining components and thus toboundary friction. This leads to a not negligiblemechanical load of the components which woulddamage filigree stuctures. That is why withoutmodification standard ultrasonic welding equipmentcannot be applied in microtechnology.
3. Ultrasonic welding equipment for micro parts
On account of the small component and joiningarea dimensions in microtechnology there are certaindemands which the ultrasonic welding equipment andthe joining process have to fulfill:- A sufficient energy input into the joining areahas to be possible.- Small joining areas (<1 mm ²) must berealisable.- The reproducibility and the positioning accuracyhave to be very high.- Flash should be as small as possible in order toensure the functionality of the microsystem.- the mechanical load of the joining parts duringthe welding process must be as low aspossible.- the energy input should be adjustable byvariation of the welding parameters.Because there is no standard ultrasonic weldingmachine which fulfills these requirements, an ultrasonicwelding unit was developed at IKV which has beenadapted to the abovementioned requirements, seeFig 2.One of the most important aspects of themodification of the welding unit is the frequency of theultrasound. Instead of a frequency of 20 kHz which isoften used for standard welding machines a frequencyof 40 kHz is applied. So lower amplitudes can bechosen in order to bring nearly the same amount of energy into the joining area. The lower the amplitudethe lower is the mechanical load of the componentsduring the welding process. To allow for an exactmovement of the oscillation system, a servo electricmoving unit is used. It features a traversing range of 100 mm with an accuracy of ± 1 µm. The oscillationsystem is mounted to this moving unit. Furthermore,the horn and the fixture are adapted to the samplegeometry.
4. Methodology
Ultrasonic welding has already been appliedsuccessfully for joining plastic micro parts [1, 5].However, the components had only two-dimensionalweld seam geometries so far. The two-dimensionalityof the weld seam is according to the state of the art of the ultrasonic welding technology a precondition for thesuccessful joining of macro-ranged parts. The weldingsurfaces should be parallel with the front surface of thehorn and in one plane to allow for a favorable andhomogeneous ultrasound energy input.Components in microsystem technology have verysmall dimensions. So even if the weld seam geometryhas three-dimensional properties, this will have aFig. 1 Principle of ultrasonic weldingFig. 3 Sample part with three-dimensional weld seamgeometryFig. 2 Modified welding equipment
 
smaller influence on welding process compared towelding parts of the macro-range.Therefore, within the scope of the investigationscarried out at the IKV Aachen it was examined if it ispossible to join micro parts with a three-dimensionalweld seam geometry by ultrasound. For this purpose,the sample part shown in Fig. 3 was developed. Thesquare-shaped sample part features a wall thickness of only 300 µm with a step of 1 mm in height at a length of 2 mm. The joining surfaces of the upper joiningcomponent are equipped with energy directors.The sample parts were made from the amorphouspolymer polycarbonate (PC) whose weldability byultrasonic welding is rather good. The sample partswere welded with the parameter settings of theamplitude of the ultrasonic wave â, the joiningdisplacement s
w
and the welding velocity v
w
indicatedin Table 1. With each set of parameters 10 parts arewelded out of which 8 samples are taken for thedetermination of the breaking force by tensile tests.The results are statistically evaluated within the scopeof an analysis of variance (ANOVA) [7]. Besides, theweld seam morphology was determined by microscopicanalyses.Since the welding velocity had no significantinfluence on both the breaking force and the weldseam morphology only the results regarding theparameters amplitude and joining displacement areconsidered in this paper. The welding velocity amountsto v
w
= 0.6 mm/s for the following discussion. At thisvelocity the cycle time ranges from approximately 0.2 sup to 0.5 s.
5. Results
Fig. 4 shows the results of the tensile tests of thewelded samples. Average breaking forces up toF
b
= 180 N can be realised depending on the amplitudeand the joining displacement. Thereby, the amplitudehas the biggest influence on the breaking force. Anamplitude of â = 16.5 µm leads to a breaking force of F
b
= 174 N averaged over all settings of the joiningdisplacement. An increase of the amplitude toâ = 28 µm causes a decrease of the breaking force toan average of F
b
= 136 N. Thereby, the level of significance exceeds 99 %. This indicates that theenergy input is too high during the ultrasonic weldingprocess, so that the polymer decomposes andweakens the weld.These findings can be confirmed by microscopicanalyses. In Fig. 5 the weld seam morphologies for twoparts are shown which were welded with the same joining displacement of s
w
= 0.1 mm, but with differentamplitude settings of â = 16.5 µm and â = 28 µm,respectively. It can be recognised that the left web of the upper component - here the distance between thewelding zone and the horn is the largest - isdecomposed at an amplitude of â = 28 µm (on the leftside at the bottom of Fig. 5). This decompositionoccurs for all components which are welded at thisamplitude. So there is no circumferential weld seamresulting in a decrease of the breaking forces. Anexplanation for this could be an elevated mechanicalload for higher amplitudes originating from boundaryfriction.For small joining displacements the influence of the amplitude is significantly higher than for s
w
= 0.3 mm. At a joining displacement of s
w
= 0.1 µmthe breaking force is decreased from F
b
= 163 N downto F
b
= 104 N when increasing the amplitude fromâ = 16.5 µm to â = 28 µm. At a joining displacement of s
w
= 0.3 mm the amplitude has no influence any more,see Fig. 6. As microscopic analyses indicate thereason is that in this case the components are not onlywelded in the intended weld area, but also between thepositioning structures, see Fig. 7. Even though theupper welding component is partly decomposed, thewelded area contributing to the breaking force is larger and the breaking force increases accordingly.Regarding the joining displacement, an increasefrom s
w
= 0.1 mm to s
w
= 0.3 mm results in an increaseof the average breaking force from F
b
= 131 N toFig. 6 Significant interdependences between thewelding parameters amplitude and joiningdisplacementFig. 4 Breaking forces depending on the weldingparametersFig. 5 Weld seam morphology for different amplitudesTable 1 Welding parametersamplitude â (µm) 16.5 22 28 joining displacement s
w
(mm) 0.1 0.2 0.3welding velocity v
w
(mm/s) 0.1 0.6

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