The radio frequency (RF) welding and manufacturing process uses electromagnetic energy and pressure to fuse and permanently bond vinyl, thermoplastic, and coated materials to produce a specific product – all according to customer requirements. Using this RF sealing process, a distinct, one-piece perpetual bond is formulated that is both solid and resistant to ripping or tearing.
But how is this process controlled, and with what specific tools? Is there specific training and expertise required to manage this process, and how successful are the eventual outcomes from radio frequency welding? This article will attempt to review and describe these important control mechanisms that produce countless products, especially within the medical industry, which currently has all our focus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
How is The Radio Frequency Spectrum Regulated for Organizations and Businesses Who Utilize It?
All of the serviceable regions of the RF spectrum (10 kHz–350 GHz) are regulated. Globally, the International Telecommunication Union, which is an entity governed by the United Nations, maintains data allocations that divide the world into three regions, each one possessing diverse radio controls and allocations.
In the U.S., the jurisdiction to govern the RF spectrum usage is divided between two key government agencies: the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission. The operating rules of these two agencies are comprehensive and are classified into law within the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
How is The RF Process Controlled and Managed?
Radio frequency welding relies on the vibration and adjustment of charged molecules within the polymer chain to produce heat. Polyvinyl Chloride and polyurethanes are the most common thermoplastics to be fused via the RF welding process.
Materials such as polyester film or polymer laminates, which possess high dielectric properties, are used to line the base platen. These ‘buffer’ materials insulate the welded area, allowing greater welding coverage for a supplied amount of RF energy. They also prevent the tear-seal electrode edges from touching the bottom platen, which results in an arc – ending in a failed manufactured item.
The quality of the welds formed by the RF welding process is governed by an intricate aggregate of machine parameters such as frequency, power output, bar temperature and pressure, and the material type and its thickness. Accordingly, optimum welding conditions are assessed by an experienced welding operator. In addition, the quality of the resultant welds is determined by performing a simple pull-test to evaluate the weld’s failure load, or by scanning the created weld bead between the fused material layers.
Factors That Control the Most Reliable Sealing Process
Various determinants are considered when settling on a process that will best suit the materials used, including the following:
- The requisite internal pressure for gas, air, or fluid containment,
- The variety of ports, tubes, or accessories that are required to be appended to the welded assembly,
- The width or breadth of the weld stitching or seamed seal.
When It Is Ideal to Use RF Welding
The RF welding method is typically used for moderate sized results that require welding equivalent material types together.
- One distinct advantage of utilizing the RF welding method is that it allows greater direction when working with incredibly thin materials and also with those materials that possess compressed dimensional thresholds.
- RF welding is quick, and the process substantially heats the material swiftly, is considered safe to handle, and maintains its configuration shortly after sealing concludes.
- A radio frequency fused seam provides the most dependable quality seal in both presentation and bond enforcement.
Radio frequency welding or sealing is completely suitable for the following scenarios:
- Base to moderate-sized products and manufactured units,
- Outputs that require quality tubes, ports, or accessory welds,
- A large number of units to be manufactured and within a tight timeframe or deadline,
- For manageable products which demand restricted or tightly configured joints or seams,
- If closely defined dimensional thresholds are required,
- If incredibly thin materials are required to be welded or joined together.
The benefits of industrial RF welding services are diverse and numerous, such as the following:
- A fluid or leak-proof seal,
- An air-tight seal,
- Greater resistance to shearing, splitting, or tearing,
- Non-arced seams and curved edged materials,
- Near imperceptible welding outcomes,
- Weld strength exceeding that of the core material,
- More comprehensive configuration options,
- Increased manufacturing efficiency and performance with certain products.
The most reliable and trustworthy sealing process for any product treatment is customarily determined by the materials that will be used, the size of the end product and configuration, and the quantity required to be manufactured. The fusing of multiple types of flexible materials via radio frequency welding is a dependable option for creating sealed, leak-proof connections on products used in military, medical and industrial applications. In addition, RF welding processes offer uniformity in replicating elements under reliable working conditions, and without toxic adhesives or solvents.