You heard it here first: there is no single materials processing technology that fits all applications. Manufacturers looking for a robust, production-ready solution must follow a rigorous process to determine the best choice of equipment. There are no short cuts or magic wands – you have to carefully review process feasibility and part design to maximize production reliability. The evaluation must also consider overall system needs.
Here’s a quick overview of seven major materials processing technology solutions including capabilities and typical applications. Use this information to educate yourself and to help narrow down your options.
Resistance welding – A thermo-electric process in which heat is generated at the interface of the parts to be joined by passing an electrical current through electrodes and to the parts for a precisely controlled time and under a controlled pressure (force). RW allows you to achieve very small heat affected zones and very light forces and can be used for metal joining applications from fine wires to sheet metal, for example, spot welding an implantable medical device like a pacemaker, or assembling airbag initiators.
Micro TIG (pulse arc) welding – A pulse arc welding process that uses a constant current welding power supply to generate an electric arc between the tungsten electrode and the workpiece, which results in heat that creates the weld. The non-contact process produces high quality welds with minimal heat affected zone. Suitable for welding both conductive and dissimilar metals, Micro TIG welding is perfect for welding small components in medical devices and bus bar welding .
Laser welding – A non-contact, single sided process suitable for welding a wide range of joint geometries and materials, laser welding offers low heat input, tailored weld dimensions, and high speeds. It is a highly flexible heating source that can be precisely controlled, and easily adapted to many different system integration motion platforms and manufacturing environments. Typical applications include seam welding pacemakers and welding semiconductor connections.
Laser marking – Marking is achieved when focused light from a laser interacts with a material to produce a high quality permanent mark. Use this process for marking alphanumeric characters, bar-codes, 2D matrix codes, serial numbers, logos and graphics on a variety of materials including metals, semiconductors, plastics, ceramics and other materials.
Laser cutting – This non-contact manufacturing solution can process mechanically delicate parts, such as medical stents, tubes and cannulas, and offers the ultimate precision cutting technology. Some options can cut both metals and plastics with no heat input into the part and provide burr free cuts even in materials such as nitinol.
Hermetic sealing –Performed in a controlled dry environment that encapsulates and protects moisture-sensitive devices into a leak tight package. The microelectronic package cover is attached to the base, creating a hermetic seal using a resistance or laser welder fully integrated into a glovebox. Use this for seam sealing semiconductor components and projection welding small transistor outline devices.
Hot bar reflow soldering and bonding –A thermode (hot bar) is very quickly heated and cooled, creating an electrical interconnection between the parts being joined. Hot bar bonding techniques are reproducible, quantifiable, and traceable to quality standards and are a great choice for connecting flex-foils to printed circuit boards (PCB) or LCD glass-panels, wires, coax cables and many other materials such a very light or small components.
So which is the right “size” for my application?
The "right" manufacturing solutions will be tailored to your specific application and budget. The way we approach this at Amada Miyachi America is to lead customers through a rigorous FREE sample qualification process. Our applications laboratory experts use the process to offer feedback on process feasibility, part design and technology selection to maximize production reliability. They also consider the potential integrated system needs, including items like enclosures, motion, optics, tooling, vision, monitoring, and software.
If you want to know more about each of the material processing technologies discussed above – including each one’s capabilities, and application examples – check out our new Solutions brochure. Want to have your samples qualified? Contact us now!