During IFAI Virtual Expo 2020, Jeff Sponseller, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Miller Weldmaster, led a campfire session titled “How to Select the Correct Welding Technology for Your Business.”
“Essentially a good weld means that the fabric will tear before the weld does,” says Sponseller. Many types of different materials can be welded—PVC laminated fabrics, films, polyethylene and more—and industries that require welding range from inflatables, marine, tents, signs, awnings and beyond. According to Sponseller, any type of product that needs to be waterproof or weatherproof should be welded.
When it comes to selecting the right welding technology for your business, Sponseller says it is important to consider the various technologies and the materials your business needs to weld.
Common welding technologies include:
Hot air welding is recommended for unique shapes and curves, a versatile product range and when there is a need to start and stop often throughout the welding process. Hot air welding is commonly used for awnings, truck tarps, white water rafts and military attack boats.
Hot wedge welding is recommended for products that are constructed of film or thick fabrics, long straight seams, 2D seams and when there is a need for a quiet work environment. Applications include awnings, truck tarps, geo liners, tents, shelters, structures, signs and billboards.
Impulse welding is popular in the industrial fabrics industry and is a hot-bar method of welding thermoplastics where pressure is applied to the seam area by two impulse-heating bars. Impulse welding is precise, accurate and easy to use. Applications include awnings, blinds, shades and screens.
Radio frequency welding is popular around the world—especially in Europe. This type of welding uses high frequency electric fields to induce heating and melting of thermoplastics. Applications include tents, tarps, pools, inflatables and high-speed roller doors.
Hot melt adhesive welding is another type of welding technology and is best used for awning and marine applications, digital textiles, PUR adhesive and dissimilar materials.
Ultrasonic welding is a solid-state welding process that produces a weld by application of high-frequency vibratory energy while the work pieces are held together under pressure. This technology is also used for cutting. It is best used for rigid plastics and films such as trash bags and automotive parts.
Sponseller also noted that, when selecting the right welding technology, it is important to consider seam types for various applications and know that not all sewing seams are the same in welding.