Laser beam welding of thermoplastics
Current product development showing an ever shrinking physical volume is asking for new, reliable joining technologies. Laser beam technologies conceal innovative solutions to overcome limitations of conventional joining technologies. Laser beam welding of thermoplastics offers several process technical advantages. The joining energy is fed contact-less into the joining area, avoiding mechanical stress and thermal load to the joining partners. The energy is supplied spatially (seam width on the order of 100 mu m) and timely (interaction time on the order of ms) very well defined. Different process strategies are possible leading to flexibility, product adapted irradiation, short process times and high quality weld seams as well as to high integration abilities and automation potentials. During the joining process no vibration, no thermal stress, no particle release takes place. Therefore, destruction of mechanically and electronically highly sensitive components, such as microelectronics, is avoided. The work place pollution is neglectable compared to other joining technologies, such as gluing (fume) or ultrasonic welding (noise, pieces of fluff). Not only micro-components can be welded in a reproducible way but also macro-components while obtaining a hermetic sealing with good optical appearance. In this publication firstly, an overview concerning process technical basis, aspects and challenges is given. Next, results concerning laser penetration welding of polymers using high power diode lasers are presented, while comparing contour and simultaneous welding by experimental results and the on-line process monitoring.