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Robopod® – Reconfigurable Robot Welding Interior Trim Mouldings

Robopod® Case Study

Reconfigurable Robot Welding Interior Trim Mouldings

The Client’s Challenge

A major automotive component supplier came to Robopod® Ltd to provide equipment to ultrasonically weld interior trim mouldings for automotive A-Pillar components.

The Client’s Specific Needs

Reconfigurable WeldingThe purpose of the machine was to weld a structural carrier to the back of an interior trim moulding across a number of variants while providing:

  • Reliable strength
  • Repeatable process
  • No marking on visible surface of the moulding

Additionally, the customer needed to poke-yoke check components when loading to the machine. This was to ensure all components are present when delivered to the car production line.

The components were designed with two styles of weld, so the machine had to have twin ultrasonic heads to make two stake forms.

The ultrasonic welding process offers reliable, repeatable joining of thermoplastics by using a high frequency vibration to melt features on the moulding, this avoids the need for glues, screws or other fixing and is a process that can be completed in less than 2s.

The Robopod® Solution

robopod weldingAfter detailed consideration of the client’s needs Mechatronic selected an existing Robopod® system which is available off-the -shelf as a standard design.

Robopod® offers a plug-and-play robotic solution which can be fitted with different end of arm tooling for a range of processes. The Robopod® solution comes in 3 sizes all provided with control & safety fully integrated as standard.

Robopod® engineers were able to easily adapt the robot by adding twin weld heads to the standard 6 axis robot arm. This allowed the weld points to be quickly and easily programmed making the commissioning time of the machine simpler and quicker.

By having change nests with coding the Robopod® machine was able to recognise which parts were to be processed and select the appropriate robot routine.

Components loaded to the machine were poke-yoke checked using a vision inspection system. This verifies that all the child parts are present before ultrasonically welding with the robot arm.


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Ultrasonic Welding

The Detail

Robopod® has over 15 years of inhouse experience in ultrasonic welding, using this knowledge we can supply systems for:

  • Plastic joining
  • Staking
  • Inserting
  • Cutting
  • Spot welding
  • Metal welding

Benefits of ultrasonic welding

  • No glue
  • No fasteners
  • No screws
  • No heated tools

Robopod® experience is integrated into equipment supplied

  • High levels of strength when joining materials
  • No marking through to the A surface
  • Closed loop process monitoring
  • Our engineers can customise the process to tailor to your application.

Types of Welding Heads

The ultrasonic process uses specific tooling (sonotrodes) to vibrate at 35kHz or 20kHz, this melts the plastic in targeted areas to ensure a quick & repeatable fusion of thermoplastics. There are different types of sonotrodes depending on the type of weld needed and the weld feature that has been moulded onto the mating surface of the plastic component. Types of sonotrode include:

Smooth Sonotrode

Used with energy directors, light weld, non-marking for ‘A’ surface moulding.

smooth sonotrode

Hedgehog Sonotrode

Strong weld, hedgehog feature on sonotrode binds x2 thermoplastic materials together.  

hedgehog sonotrode

Staking Sonotrode

staking sonotrode

Strong weld, rivet feature on sonotrode binds x2 dissimilar materials together.

Robopod® engineers can advise on weld position, weld type and features that are required to achieve a strong, repeatable process.

The Results

The customer now has a machine that will poke-yoke check & process multiple variants of moulding within the required cycle time. The benefit with this solution is that the Robopod® system can be reconfigured for another welding application or retooled for a completely new purpose in the future.

For more information, please contact sales@mechatronic.co.uk.

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