The patented process for Ultrasonic Injection Moulding strongly bonds polymers and does so at significantly lower temperatures than those seen in traditional bonding processes that use heat alone.
The secret is a relatively low level of ultrasonic energy applied to the polymer moulding or polymer extruding process - specifically in the regions where inserts are placed or at intersections of two or more polymers.
Researchers believe the breakthrough may have the greatest impact in the automotive industry where a thin layer of high-performance, high-cost polymers can be bonded over low-cost substrates in plastic trim and body parts. Other potential applications include high-strength parts in mounting components for electronics, plastics enclosures and housings, and mechanical machinery covers and enclosures.
The combination of low cost and low temperatures is significant. Specifically, the lower temperatures allow uses with electronics that are difficult or impossible using traditional, high-temperature bonding.
"We believe this is a breakthrough with potentially significant performance improvement and cost reduction potential," says Lynn Faulkner, Program Manager at Battelle.
"The process improves flow and mould filling, removes gas bubbles from the mould, eliminates cold bonds, and allows incorporation of filler materials."