As a manufacturer of special purpose machines, Altec Engineering is constantly presented with new challenges that require innovative ideas and the selection of the most appropriate technologies to deliver the optimum production option. When asked to develop a flexible, precision joining system for a range of plastic filter components, Altec selected Infra Red Welding as the preferred joining technology based upon its attributes of speed, energy efficiency and non-contact operation.
Altec has now gone on to install a sixth machine of this type for their UK customer, a testimonial in itself to the concept and performance of these essential production systems. The products assembled and joined by the Altec system are a range of liquid filter cartridges, used extensively within the pharmaceutical, beverage, ultrapure water and fine chemical industries.
These demanding applications require that each unit is assembled and joined in a precision manner to achieve a hermetic seal. The system designed by Altec has the capability to handle a wide range of filter lengths (up to 1000mm) as well as varying diameters. The production system is not only flexible but allows quick and easy change over between the different part types.
Altec Engineering’s joining system for this application is based upon Infra-Red Welding technology. This process was chosen by Altec for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is faster and more energy efficient than alternative hot plate welding. Furthermore, heating takes place without any physical contact with the part or tooling and the heat energy can be accurately controlled and focused exactly where it is needed, on the weld joint area.
Components to be joined are loaded into the machine fixtures before the infrared heating elements, each of which incorporates multiple lamps, move into position and the heating cycle commences. The machine control system enables individual control of each lamp, allowing fine-tuning of the temperature across the different zones. When the optimum temperature is reached, determined by the built-in temperature-monitoring system, the heating elements retract and the assembly is pressed to the correct melt depth using servo systems, guaranteeing accurate and repeatable dimensional tolerances.
The machine produces two assemblies in approximately 80 seconds, and the combination of servo drives and precise control of temperatures gives the machine the flexibility required to cater for the wide range of filter products.
Each of the six machines built to date by Altec use the same infrared technology for heating and joining the assemblies. There are, however, variants on loading and unloading, with some machines automatically unloading finished parts. The overall machine concept however will allow the integration of robot loading and unloading if required and the machine design could be adapted to manufacture similar products for other industries and applications such as automotive.
For more information about Infra Red Welding and precision joining systems, please contact , or visit www.alteceng.co.uk.