Orlando, Fla. — The recent acquisition of Bielefeld, Germany-based KVT Bielefeld GmbH serves a dual purpose for plastics welding system manufacturer Dukane Corp.

Not only does the transaction expand Dukane's footprint into Germany, where it had little presence previously, but it also gives St. Charles, Ill.-based Dukane access to KVT's proprietary hot gas welding technology, which company executives say produces particulate-free strong bonds of thermal plastic components.

The acquisition was finalized in late November but first announced publicly during a May 8 news conference at NPE2018. The companies are in the process of integrating the 80 employees of KVT into the processes of Dukane and vice-versa, according to Michael Johnston, Dukane CEO and president.

"The plastics industry has changed quite a bit," Johnston said. "What has happened is customers are looking for this particulate-free welding. They want a way to put those two pieces together without particulate. It's becoming more demanding."

And, he said, aesthetics are becoming more of a priority for the welding process. Previously, he said, a weld joint for a taillight might have been hidden under a piece of sheet metal. Now, manufacturers are building the weld design into the look of the vehicle.

"In addition, complex geometries are more prevalent," Johnston said. "Rubber hoses that go under the car, now it's an injection molded part, and they have to figure out a way to bond together."

The hot gas welding process uses nitrogen, which is an inert gas, Johnston said, and does not contaminate the plastic part.

Vanessa Maresch, business development manager of KVT, said the weld is extremely strong and comparable to any other vibration or hot plate welding process.

Johnston said the automotive and medical markets will benefit using the hot gas process. "It's a very clean process, and customers have a need for it worldwide," Johnston said.

In addition to the hot gas welding, KVT offers electric assistance welding, hot plate welding, infrared light welding, spin welding, and thermoforming and ultrasonic welding.

Johnston said KVT will soon offer the complete portfolio of Dukane products in Germany, and Dukane will be able to offer and support KVT products at 40 locations across the globe, including each of Dukane's six manufacturing sites.

"There's a lot of excitement for hot gas technology, and now we're going to be able to support that and offer it worldwide," Johnston said. "Not only hot gas, but other products they offer as well."

• An Infinity system that is an extension of its servo-driven ultrasonic welding system, featuring "Melt-Match" technology. This system provides several tools to control the ultrasonic process. Dukane said its infinity welder improves the ultrasonic welding process by controlling all facets of motion with servo precision during the weld cycle.

Dukane said the Infinity servo welder provides the fastest approach to the weld position while controlling the initial contact force. Melt-Detect technology resumes motion once the plastic material has begun to melt. Weld velocity can be programmed in 10 independent segments to match the melt rate of the material.

The all-stainless steel actuator is narrower than previous models, Dukane said, and meets clean ​ room requirements for medical manufacturers and others. The system is easy to calibrate and offers superior performance, the company said.

The all-electric Infinity welder delivers repeatability, accuracy and reliability to ultrasonic welding process, Dukane said.

• The Infrared-Preheat Vibration Welding System with servo-control technology. This system provides all the benefits of Dukane's vibration welding technology while minimizing particulate and flash, Dukane said. The infrared-preheat vibration technology uses quartz bulb emitters that operate in the 2-4 micrometer wave-length. Quartz IR emission wavelengths match perfectly with the many plastic absorption wavelength ranges.

Servo-driven lift table provides precise control and consistent weld results, Dukane said, and tool design experts can add the IR preheat carrier to standard vibration welding tool designs. IR tooling can be changed in and out of machines like standard vibration tooling, allowing the use of IR or non-IR tools in one machine.

• The iQ AiM (Automation in Mind) ultrasonic power supply, which was designed for automation houses. The mechanical design of the generator reduces space required in the automation's electrical cabinet. The cable connection configuration makes for ease of wiring and troubleshooting, Dukane said, while the front panel display and controls can be configured vertically or horizontally, allowing for flexibility of mounting.

All iQ AiM Ultrasonic Generators incorporate Dukane's exclusive thermostatically controlled flow-thru cooling. The units come standard with EtherNet/IP or Modbus standard and optional Anybus Module (Profinet, Profibus, Powerlink, EtherCAT, CC-Link) communication protocols.

A range of frequencies 15, 20, 30, 35 and 40 kHz, along with power levels (600 W, 1,200 W, 1,800 W 2,600 W 3,600 W and 5,000 W) have been designed and are available. High-power units are configured with three phases 480 VAC power input. IQ AiMTM generators are compatible with all Dukane current probes and converters.

• The iQ Auto-Plus Ultrasonic Generator with Multi Probe Control (MPC) module integrated in the same unit. The generator is designed for automated machines that require ultrasonic staking or spot welding. The generator is suited for automotive interior door panels and other large ultrasonic multipoint applications. The compact size of the unit allows for panel mounting, either internal or external, to an electrical cabinet.

The standard unit comes with Ethernet/IP or Modbus and has optional Anybus Module (Profinet, Profibus, Powerlink, EtherCAT, CC-Link) communication protocols. All these protocols allow for faster interaction with the automated system. IQ Auto+MPC can be configured to have eight individual weld points, each supplied standard with Weld by Time, Energy or Peak Power with optional I/O for Weld by Distance, coupled with Dukane's Trigger by Power to provide weld consistency.

All these control features are processed inside the generator utilizing a 0.5-millisecond processing rate.

Designed to meet a wide range of application requirements, the iQ system is available in two power ranges, 600 or 1200 watt, and four frequencies, 20, 30, 35 or 40 kHz.

• A new iQ Series HP-E Ultrasonic Hand-Held System with Trigger by Power technology. The iQ Series HP-E generator's standard configuration includes time and energy process control, Dukane said. The Trigger by Power manages operator's pressure applied to an assembly prior to weld initiation to reduce weld variations.

The HP-E system is ideal for ultrasonic staking, ultrasonic spot welding, ultrasonic cutting, ultrasonic splicing and short-run packaging applications, Dukane said. It features a high-resolution colored LCD display with easy-to-read text.

• A new rotary infrared welding system with multiple heating stations to reduce cycle time that will benefit automotive, appliance, medical equipment and other plastic part manufacturers. This system is designed for assemblies falling within a footprint of 200 by 250 millimeters or less, requiring a fast cycle rate, Dukane said

This machine provides a particulate free, noncontact infrared welding solution capable of producing welded assemblies as fast as every eight seconds as compared with conventional IR welding machines that run at a rate of 30-40 seconds per cycle, Dukane said. These rates are accomplished by enabling the normally sequential welding steps — load, heater extend, melt, retract, join, hold, open and unload — to happen simultaneously on a rotary indexing machine. Each step of the weld process occurs at the same time on each of the indexer stations. Using this method, a welded assembly is discharged at the same time a new one is being loaded.

"With the marriage of KVT and products they offer and products Dukane already offers, we're going to have the largest breadth of technology for plastics joining of any other company in the world," Johnston said. "Whatever a manufacturer is looking for, Dukane has a solution for them."

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