Dukane Corp. is advancing its iQ servomotor-equipped ultrasonic welding product line.
Dukane views its second-generation iQ servomotor line as offering unprecedented repeatability and accuracy vs. pneumatic ultrasonic welding equipment, said Michael Johnston, vice president of sales and marketing.
For a medical application, a current Dukane servo unit may cost about $35,000, depending on wattage and port size.
Johnston said a servomotor-equipped line is about 10 percent more expensive than a comparable pneumatic unit.
Dukane invested in developing servoelectronic welders and brought the technology to market in mid-2009, initially with a 20-kilohertz, bench-top model.
In mid-2010, Dukane released 15- and 40-kHz models.
The larger 15 kHz, “the highest-force press we have,” accommodates “larger-footprint parts,” Johnston said. The 40-kHz model “can be outfitted at 30 kHz or 50 kHz if we make changes to the transducer and generator.”
Three Dukane-owned patents protect the intellectual property in the second-generation iQ series. One involves an in-house-built generator and was issued in 2009; another deals with integrated Melt-Match-brand technology that links the velocity of the ultrasonic stack with the melt-flow velocity of the plastic material.
The third patent is for the mechanical structure, which Exlar Corp. of Chanhassen, Minn., supplies. “The mechanical packaging allows for the ultrasonic press systems to be compact in size,” Johnston said.
The latter two patents were issued in 2010.
“We have some unique technology” distinguishing Dukane servo equipment from traditional ultrasonic welding systems with pneumatic press components, Johnston said. The previous alternative was air-driven pneumatic cylinders.
About one-half of Dukane's business involves ultrasonic welding equipment. About 30 percent deals with vibration welding equipment. Hot-plate, laser and spin welding equipment and thermo-staking machines account for the remainder.
Dukane has made pneumatic ultrasonic welders since 1969, but those sales “are dropping fast” and are being replaced by servo units, Johnston said.
Of total Dukane ultrasonic welder sales, servomotor units accounted for about 10 percent in 2010 and nearly 50 percent in 2011, and could reach 85-90 percent by the end of 2013.
“We are working on a third generation in our engineering lab for possible release in mid-2013,” Johnston said.
At NPE2012, Dukane introduced the ability for a user to download material-related servo applications with an iPhone or Android mobile operating system.
For welding polypropylene, for example, “you need a certain amount of amplitude” for compatibility, he said. Servo settings measuring material by linear inch require use of a machine set-up tool that is accessible with a mobile application.
Dukane is expanding the mobile technology and expects to have new applications for vibration welding and spin welding by the end of 2012.
In an end use with an NPE2012 angle, Dukane saw its servo technology as a solution for a customer in Puerto Rico with a challenging production bind involving small parts.
Dukane's booth displayed 13 units including a demonstration servowelder that was shipped April 7 from Orlando to the medical-device manufacturer in Puerto Rico. The customer soon purchased a second 20-kHz servo.
Dukane employs 250 and occupies 170,000 square feet for manufacturing, offices and application laboratories in St. Charles, Ill., Johnston said in an interview at NPE2012, held April 1-5 in Orlando.
The company makes custom tooling for machines for the European market at a facility in Prague, and ultrasonic welders and custom tooling for the Asian market at a facility in Changzhou, China.