RF-Welding Technique Forms Solid Bond with TPEs

Author: 
Bob Michaels
RF-welding technology from Genesis Plastics Welding can weld TPEs, such as those supplied by PolyOne, into 3-D configurations, including mandrels.

Radio-frequency (RF) welding is nothing new. Nor are thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). But a collaborative venture between Genesis Plastics Welding and PolyOne Corp. has resulted in what the companies assert is a breakthrough in RF welding of TPE resins. For the first time, these materials can be RF welded into any 3-D shape or configuration, including mandrels.

Traditional RF-welding equipment can process a range of polar materials, such as PVC and polyurethanes, remarks Tom Ryder, president and CEO of Genesis Plastics Welding. And while the company’s ecoGenesis system was previously able to use radio frequency to handle nonpolar materials such as TPEs, it could only weld them into 2-D configurations. “Complete mandrel welding remained a challenge,” Ryder notes.

Genesis Plastics Welding began to grapple with this challenge by tuning its ecoGenesis RF-welding technology to handle PolyOne’s Versaflex line of TPEs. This collaboration enabled Genesis Plastics Welding to optimize its ecoGenesis technology to 3-D weld TPE materials and encouraged PolyOne to expand its portfolio of Versaflex TPEs. “Being able to mandrel-weld TPEs means that we can now weld two layers of a flat film around a tube,” Ryder says.

Expanding the processing capability of TPE resins is an important step for medical device manufacturers because these nonhalogenated, nonplasticized materials do not leach plasticizing agents from fluid-delivery systems into the body. “As we developed TPE material and got into the medical area, we began to realize that there are secondary processes being used in which people fuse or RF weld materials to make bags and other fluid-delivery systems, including IV, ostomy, blood-transfer, and urinary drainage bags,” explains Joe Kutka, PolyOne’s global market development manager for consumer, packaging, and healthcare.

The ability to RF weld TPE materials has enabled PolyOne to supply all the materials used to make such products as infusion kits. “All the components of these kits can be made using our Versaflex TPE technology, only with different flexibilities and hardnesses,” Kutka says. “That includes the bags themselves, as well as the connectors and the medical tooling.”

“ecoGenesis allows people to use TPEs in a variety of different forms, such as films, tubing, or even injection-molded connectors, allowing manufacturers to fuse many types of devices,” Kutka states. “Any kind of product with a complex geometry can be sealed, creating good bonds without the risk of leakage.” Genesis Plastics Welding uses these materials to do things that typically cannot be done with other types of materials, Ryder adds. “These resins open the door to more opportunities for our RF-welding technology.”

Genesis Plastics Welding
Fortville, IN
www.genesisplasticswelding.com

PolyOne
Avon Lake, OH
www.polyone.com