New Heat Staking Technologies Improve Accuracy and Process Efficiency
Heat staking is a quick, inexpensive way to form strong assemblies between components. It is often compared with ultrasonic staking, which can offer faster results at the expense of flexibility and adaptability for complex applications.
The arguments between heat staking and ultrasonic welding have been going on for a longer time than most engineers realize. While there are definite advantages to each for meeting project-specific goals, one of the areas where heat staking outperforms ultrasonic staking is in the ability to produce multiple heat stake posts accurately and consistently over multiple planes in one machine cycle for high-precision and repeatable plastic assembly tasks.
Some of the newest developments in heat staking serve to extend this comparative advantage to even greater extents. Improvements to automated quality assurance, process control methods, and data communication produce a significant boost to fabricators’ bottom lines.
How New Heat Staking Developments Affect Thermal Press Users
The newest thermal presses offer more than previous generations of technology have been able to provide. These developments are subtle in nature, but compound to generate powerful profit yields for fabrication plants and product manufacturers.
Automated Quality Assurance
Whether assembling plastic parts with heat staking or with ultrasonic technology, long production runs and multiple processes inevitably introduce the possibility of errors creeping into the finished product. State-of-the-art heat staking equipment like the Thermal Press H-Series feature programmable final position (Heat Stake travel or collapse distance) Quality (inspection) alarms will catch these deficiencies when they occur.
The two principal errors these systems verify are overtravel and undertravel. These correspond to situations when the heat stake posts or bosses either travels beyond its intended depth or does not reach the intended depth during the heat staking process. When the machine detects this, it signals an Alarm for the operator, requiring the operator to acknowledge the alarm before starting another heat staking cycle can be started.
Force Feedback Process Control
The newest heat staking toolsets use a force feedback-based process control method to improve heat staking accuracy. In normal conditions, peripheral force that goes into the heat stake is essentially lost and unaccounted for. As long as the stake is successful, most operators don’t mind this.
But Thermal Press has recently developed a method that uses the force applied to the heat stake during the process to control the motion of the plastic assembly parts, creating a more accurate and more efficient stake. This is very useful for high-temperature and glass-filled plastic materials.
Data-Oriented Automation Integration
Most modern thermal press machines feature some level of automation integration, but only the latest are able to demonstrate high-level machine-to-machine interoperability. The latest machines gather data on automated processes and produce organized data sheets in industry-standard machine-compatible interoperability formats like SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) or OPC.
Operators then use the data produced to remotely control integrated machines within the context of a larger production work cell. This allows Thermal Press heat staking equipment to become an integrated part of a high-value automated production process, rather than a one-off solo machine in a complete assembly-line that requires multiple operations to use, control and to even monitor the production.
Invest in State-of-the-Art Heat Staking Equipment
Industry-leading heat staking expertise can improve plastic assembly production and efficiency. Entrust your acquisitions to a reputable provider of world-class plastic assembly tools and rely on expert process development to deliver results to shareholders.
Find out more about the latest advances in heat staking by speaking with a Thermal Press specialist today!