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An Engineering Education Project: Using a Robot and Thermal Imaging to Automate and Analyze Ultrasonic Welding of Plastics

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Design & Development Projects and Practices

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Paper Authors


Michael G Mauk P.E. Drexel University

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Michael Mauk is Assistant Professor in Drexel University's Engineering Technology program.

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Richard Chiou Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Dr. Richard Chiou is Associate Professor within the Engineering Technology Department at Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA. He received his Ph.D. degree in the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. His educational background is in manufacturing with an emphasis on mechatronics. In addition to his many years of industrial experience, he has taught many different engineering and technology courses at undergraduate and graduate levels. His tremendous research experience in manufacturing includes environmentally conscious manufacturing, Internet based robotics, and Web based quality. In the past years, he has been involved in sustainable manufacturing for maximizing energy and material recovery while minimizing environmental impact.

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Prashant Yadav

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Robotics and prototyping are high-profile subjects in contemporary undergraduate engineering and technology education. Further, the advent of low-cost infrared cameras for thermal imaging provides a convenient means to visualize and analyze processes in unprecedented detail. Ultrasonic welding is an attractive plastics manufacturing technology for medical devices, packaging, and other industries. In ultrasonic welding, ultrasonic waves are directed at interfaces between contacted component plastic parts to effect a localized melting and weld bond. Ultrasonic welding is ‘clean’, energy efficient, and fast (1 second per weld), but is typically not very flexible due to constraints on the horn and part shape. Here, we combine ultrasonic welding and robotics for a programmable welding station by attaching an ultrasonic horn (20 kHz, 1 to 600 W) to a robotic arm. As a laboratory exercise, students use thermal imaging and a dynamometer to measure forces applied to the workpiece, in order to monitor and optimize the robotic process for spot and seam welding acrylic plastic parts, and assess weld strength using a tensile stress instrument. The robotic ultrasonic welder finds application in a host student projects related to 3d printing and rapid prototyping of renewable energy projects (wind turbines, solar cell arrays) and microfluidic devices. Learning assessments and adaptation for dissemination will be discussed.

Mauk, M. G., & Chiou, R., & Yadav, P. (2018, June), An Engineering Education Project: Using a Robot and Thermal Imaging to Automate and Analyze Ultrasonic Welding of Plastics Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29780

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