We remain committed to providing the very best in custom tooling for our ultrasonic metal spot welders. We realize that each application is unique and that every company has different production requirements. So we work closely with our customers to meet their specific needs. This is a critical part of the service we provide. We are ready and equipped to make the tooling modifications that ensure our machines will produce the top quality, consistent welds the customer demands.
A Step-by-Step Approach to Our Custom-Tooling Process
The tooling required will vary according to the application. We have found that customization is most often necessary when a machine is to be used for wire-to-terminal or sheet metal ultrasonic spot welding. But before we even consider the tooling, we must make certain our ultrasonic metal welding technology is right for the job. This is our #1 priority. For example, we may need to confirm that we can successfully weld wires to terminals involving tinned materials. (Sonobond equipment can weld most tinned and oxidized metals.) Or we may need to be sure our ultrasonic welder can handle an unusual part configuration.
After we have established that our ultrasonic metal spot welder can accomplish the basic tasks demanded of it, we set to work to determine what tooling adjustments are needed for that specific application. To do this, we carefully consider the geometry and specifications of the finished part. Then we design tooling that will hold the various pieces together in the proper orientation while the ultrasonic weld is being completed—but without unnecessarily complicating the load and unload operations. We check the finished welds to make sure the customer’s dimensional tolerances, as well as their electrical and mechanical requirements, are all met. The customer is invited to review the operation or is sent parts to check against his specifications before we ship. In some cases, we have our technician present at the customer’s site for checkout and approval.
In other words, we work closely with plant engineers and other manufacturing personnel to provide the tooling modifications that ensure fast, reliable, cost-effective ultrasonic welding. With the exception of wire-to-wire applications—which can use our standard jaw set and readily-available tips—some amount of tooling customization is usually needed before our metal spot welder takes its place in their production process.
Custom-Tooling for Blue Jeans Cable
Blue Jeans Cable in Seattle, Washington is a manufacturer of professional-grade cabling for home audio and video components. They sell their products direct to the consumer.
Before discovering the advantages of Sonobond’s ultrasonic metal welding technology, the company was using a mechanical screw joint to produce its speaker cables. However, after learning about the SonoWeld® 1600 Ultrasonic Spot Welder at a trade show, Blue Jeans Cable asked Sonobond to design tooling which could be used to assemble the banana plugs that insert the wires coming from amplifiers or receivers into speakers.
The company was impressed by the SonoWeld 1600 because of its built-in microprocessor that permits storage and recall of over 250 weld protocols, as well as automatic frequency control, overload protection, and automatic quality monitoring. The machine also has heat-treated, tool steel Taper Lock Tips that can perform up to 100,000 welds before being replaced, which is a quick and easy procedure.
Blue Jeans Cable wanted the SonoWeld to assemble an affordably-priced plug with superior electrical and mechanical integrity. The plug needed to be stronger and more reliable than those that could be assembled with more labor-intensive—but less effective—soldering or mechanical methods. To accomplish this, the ultrasonic metal spot welder had to be able to hold the company’s custom-designed banana plugs firmly in place so that the #10 and #12 stranded copper wires could be inserted into the back of the plug and then fused directly to the brass surface.
Sonobond worked with the company to achieve the desired results. In the words of Blue Jeans Cable’s management, the banana plugs assembled on their 1500-watt SonoWeld 1600 create “a bond of remarkable strength and low electrical resistance” and ensure the “best physical durability and electrical integrity of any speaker cable.”
Customization Produces “Outstanding Results”
Lake Cable, LLC is another example of how Sonobond works with its customers to make sure its ultrasonic welding equipment provides superior welds.
The company had been using Sonobond machinery for years. But when it came time to upgrade the welding capabilities at its 100,000-square-foot facility in Valparaiso, Indiana, Lake Cable decided to update its production technology with a 2500-watt SonoWeld 1600 Digital Ultrasonic Metal Spot Welder. The company encapsulates cables in metal sheathing and extrudes overall jackets over its control, instrumentation, and power cable product line. As part of this process, the ultrasonic spot welding equipment needed to make several line welds in order to join the end of one roll of sheet metal to the beginning of a new roll of sheet metal to permit a continuous cable sheathing operation.
To comply with the company’s specific needs, Sonobond designed a custom anvil slide assembly and modified the welder frame. This enabled the 4½ -inch-wide material to traverse into and out of the SonoWeld 1600. The material approaches the machine on an angle, with the slide assembly moving the metal strip under the welding tip. In this way a series of successive line-spot welds are made across the overlapped ends of the two pieces of sheet metal. The modified frame of the welder accommodates the sheet metal flow, allowing the metal to be fed from one roll and taken up on another roll after welding.
Lake Cable has determined that these modifications produce a stronger joint—equal to 90% of the parent material’s strength. The company also reports that it takes only a few seconds to create several line welds. In short, they describe their custom modified SonoWeld 1600 as delivering “outstanding results.”
Custom Solutions for Ford Motor Company
As part of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program*, Ford Motor Company, with a group that included Sonobond, began investigating ways in which ultrasonic technology could be used in the assembly of vehicles. Careful testing proved that ultrasonic welding was very effective in joining aluminum sheets. In fact, ultrasonic spot metal welding required less energy than resistance welding, cost less than riveting, produced no heat-affected zone, was relatively insensitive to a range of lubricant types and levels, and worked well on pretreated aluminum.
The two companies worked together to develop ultrasonic machinery for assembling vehicle structures. The result was the C-Frame Robotic Weld Gun (RWG) with Clamping System. Creating the RWG system required Sonobond to work with Ford engineers to provide custom tooling and a robot interface. There was also a need to make certain the ultrasonic welder was effective at various orientations. The first machine used was the WeldMaster™ C-Frame I with a 14-inch throat depth, one ultrasonic head, and an opposing anvil. Welds were usually completed in less than 1.5 seconds. Thousands of welds were evaluated and it was determined that the tips could perform up to 200,000 welds without experiencing serious degradation. A second, bigger C-Frame II with an 18-inch throat depth was used later to handle even larger automotive parts. The C-Frame II is available with either one or two heads. The two-head model uses one head to power the welding tip and the other head
to power the anvil. This enabled the ultrasonic vibration to be introduced to both sides of the weldment, which further reduced weld energy and time.
We are very proud of what we accomplished together with Ford and the technological developments that resulted from this association. We anticipate the increased use of ultrasonics in welding aluminum and other lightweight sheet metals, especially among automotive and battery manufacturers. These firms will find our sales and engineering team ready and willing to work with them to incorporate the kind of tooling changes and modifications necessary to make sure our equipment fully satisfies their specific requirements.
Sonobond’s Patented Wedge-Reed Bonding System
All of Sonobond’s ultrasonic metal spot welders are made in the U.S.A. and feature the unique, patented Wedge-Reed bonding system of low vibratory amplitude and high vibratory force. Shear mode vibration parallel to the welding surface is utilized while the line of force is directly over the parts to be welded. This creates true metallurgical bonds that are precise and dependable. There is no bending stress or stalling.
Sonobond’s is the only ultrasonic system that is capable of reliable one-pulse welding of most oxidized and tinned metals without pre-cleaning.
Free Ultrasonic Welding Viability Test
Determining whether a specific machine is right for a particular application is easy, thanks to our free Ultrasonic Welding Viability Test. Companies are encouraged to submit their non-ferrous materials to Sonobond to have sample welds made. There is no cost or obligation for this service.
Once a firm decides to make a purchase, Sonobond will work with them to ensure that the installation is as seamless as possible. This includes working with company personnel to make any necessary custom tooling and/or modifications to the ultrasonic welding equipment. Customers can count on Sonobond for superior service and solid technical support every step of the process—before, during, and after installation.
Over a Half-Century of Leadership and Innovation
Sonobond is a global leader in the application of ultrasonic welding and bonding technology. In 1960, the company—then known as Aeroprojects—received the first patent every awarded for ultrasonic metal welding. Over the intervening 54 years, Sonobond has established and maintained a well-earned reputation for its pioneering work and quality-engineered products. Its many customers include leading firms in the electrical, automotive, appliance, solar, aerospace, filtration, medical, and ballistics industries. Sonobond equipment is environmentally-friendly and easy to operate with only minimal training.
*U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Technology Program 70NANB3H3015, 2003-2007.