This month we are highlighting an interview with Mark Iannantuoni of Dukane Ultrasonics on their ultrasonic welding and specifically Servo Ultrasonic Welders.
PC (Production Components): Tell me a little about yourself, how long you’ve been in the assembly equipment business; with Dukane, and what you do at Dukane.
MI (Mark Iannantuoni): I’ve been in the capital equipment business for 20 years now, I sold rivet setting equipment for 11 years and for the past nine, I’ve been Northeast Regional Manager for Dukane.
PC: Tell me a little about Dukane.
MI: Dukane is a uniquely positioned company; it was family run since its inception in the late 1920’s and then in the early 2000’s was purchased by several of the employees, so it is an employee-owned company. Dukane originally started making audio visual products, like radios, film projectors and overhead projectors. I always say, if you’re over a certain age, every film strip you watched in school, you probably watched on a Dukane projector. Later Dukane got the opportunity to make ultrasonic pinging devices for the black boxes used on aircraft. The knowledge and experience Dukane gained in making the ultrasonic transducers led to the ability to build a line of ultrasonic plastic welding equipment. Dukane really innovated the ultrasonic plastic welding equipment market – becoming the first to weld to distance using a linear encoder, and the first to design equipment capable of true process control and of course, the first to design a viable Servo welder.
PC: So, how’s business?
MI: Business is excellent, we’re growing every year for the past five years – both regionally and globally.
PC: What do you think has been propelling this growth?
MI: Without a doubt the Servo welder has been a boon for the Northeast in particular and for the company as a whole. I think for the northeast it’s because of the medical manufacturers and medical part designers in this region who appreciate the level of repeatability and the improved strength they can get using the servo driven ultrasonic welders. They just can’t get that level of consistency from pneumatic welders.
PC: So, tell me, what exactly is Ultrasonic Welding?
MI: Ultrasonic welding is the process of welding thermo-plastics to each other – an assembly method that involves the vibrating of one plastic component at ultrasonic frequencies against another plastic component to cause melt at the interface to create a completed assembly. The plastic doesn’t just mix mechanically, it mixes molecularly. In other words, at the interface between the two pieces of plastic, you now have a newly formed band of the base material.
PC: What are the benefits of Ultrasonic Welding?
MI: Firstly, I’d say speed. Assemblies happen in under a second usually. Also, Ultrasonic Welding is clean. There are no additional glues or solvents, the weld occurs with only the base materials, no fasteners. just the basic molded parts themselves. The particulate is usually minimal, and no equipment is needed to get rid of fumes.
PC: Can you give us some examples of things Dukane weld Ultrasonically?
MI: Sure, as far as categories go, we do a lot of medical, automotive, and electronic applications, as well as a lot of work in the packaging, safety equipment, and filter media industries. As far as specifics go, we weld small electrical components in high end home entertainment systems, automotive components, appliance components, disposable diapers, Johnny-coats, thermoformed blister-packs; feminine products made of non-woven plastic fibers, to name a few. We also do a lot in the food cutting industry. Ultrasonic blades cut cookies, cakes, candies and cheeses more cleanly and with less waste than most other processes. We also have ultrasonic welders with a company that makes disposable razors – they use a high speed application, with cycle times under a second a piece, and are producing a large volume of these razors daily, so they find the feedback consistency that they get from the welder just can’t be beat. They, like a lot of customers, need to be able to know exactly what’s going on with each and every piece so they can reject inconsistent pieces pretty much on the fly, they are just one example of a customer using the Servo Welder successfully.
PC: What is Servo Ultrasonic welding?
MI: Firstly, let me say that we are the first to develop a patented servo driven ultrasonic welder and we have the only one in the market currently. What we can do with the Servo, using our patented Melt-Match technology, is very precisely and consistently control the velocity during the weld, meaning we are matching the melt-flow characteristics of the plastic and by doing that, the resulting joint is significantly stronger. Also, the control that we have with that servo is excellent to the point where we can produce much more consistent results and the feedback that we get from the welder tells us a lot about what just happened during the weld, so much so, that we’re really able to segregate good, bad and suspect parts at a much higher level of accuracy than ever before. This means, of course, that the scrap rate is much lower, resulting in higher quality and a better bottom line. It can’t be matched for consistency of the output and process.
PC: Sounds Expensive.
MI: Surprisingly, not really. Our Servo Ultrasonic machines – the IQ series – are very competitively priced. As a matter of fact, our competitors’ highest end pneumatic welders are very similarly priced to our highest end Servo welder.
PC: So, what can we expect on the horizon from Dukane?
MI: Well, we are continually improving the servo welder and obviously our applications knowledge using the servo welder is now leaps and bounds ahead of where anyone else’s will be when they finally develop their own servo ultrasonic welder.
We are also working on different ultrasonic weld joints, specifically for the servo welder, these joints are designed to make the manufacture of the plastic components easier and more consistent , which is going to be really beneficial to both molders and end-users. We’ve also developed a round energy director design on which we’ve done extensive testing and I think that’s going to dramatically change the way parts are designed for welding.
PC: Sounds exciting. Thanks so much for your time today, Mark.
MI: No problem, I’m always available to talk about Dukane and what we’re doing to improve the assembly process!
Mark can be reached at [email protected] and at 203 269-0500.