Even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, manufacturers of medical devices, monitoring systems and personal protective equipment continue to seek to make products that improve the lives of all patients.High-volume companies, such as UK-based Firstkind Ltd., rely on proven technologies such as ultrasonic welding to achieve this.
Firstkind became familiar with ultrasonic welding in 2020 to keep up with National Health Service (NHS) demand for the company’s wearable geko therapy device during the pandemic.Thousands of devices have been bought by the NHS for distribution to healthcare facilities across the UK to help patients recover.
Geko features an embedded neuromuscular electrical stimulation On-Pulse technology platform that stimulates muscles and nerves to help improve flexibility, strength and movement.The device is non-invasive, battery-powered, disposable and similar in size to a small watch.Once attached to a patient’s leg, it sends electrical impulses to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism, a dangerous blood clot condition that affects almost one-third of severely ill COVID-19 patients.
On the assembly line, Firstkind uses a double-ended ultrasonic welding station made by Telsonic UK to manufacture the geko equipment.The station is fully integrated with in-house built pallet automation equipment.
Each head assembly consists of a MAG3512S generator; a precision adjustable SE3512VF converter module; a titanium booster mounted on a Telsonic AC450 pneumatic actuator with a titanium monobloc sonotrode.The module is also air-cooled and spring-loaded.
Geko components are made of polypropylene and are supplied to dual welding heads on dual cavity trays.Once activated, the head simultaneously provides a controlled riveting action, so the four hollow pins flow into the moulded groove with low force.Weld and hold times are precisely determined by the workstation’s main PLC.
The welding process joins the front and back of each device, enclosing the internal components and sealing the battery in place.To perform this welding efficiently, Firstkind engineers designed a special pin and groove part mold that exactly matches the tool face of the ultrasonic horn.Components are held in place with minimal force.
Manufacturers love ultrasonic welding stations to produce aesthetically pleasing parts with tight, closed gaps.Additionally, to ensure patient comfort, the welds are limited to sub-flush within the grooves of the part.The welds are also strong enough to keep the device tamper-proof, while allowing the battery to be removed by disassembly before the device is recycled.
Another reason Firstkind chose the Telsonic station was that the supplier built it quickly, while always complying with the NHS’s COVID lockdown rules.This includes Telsonic UK performing the Firstkind Factory Acceptance Test remotely using a PC-based visualization tool.
Telsonic MAG generators provide constant power and amplitude over a voltage range of 180 to 260 volts.It also provides high process repeatability, maximum cycle rates through dynamic control and a state-of-the-art fieldbus interface.The space-saving design of the generator is optimized for switchgear with a depth of 300 mm.
Telsonic Group, based in Bronschhofen, Switzerland, has been supplying its industrial ultrasonic welding machines since 1966 in Europe, America and Asia.It specializes in plastic and metal welding, as well as ultrasonic cleaning and screening.The company serves customers in the automotive, packaging and medical technology sectors worldwide.
Jim is a senior editor at ASSEMBLY with over 30 years of editorial experience.Before joining ASSEMBLY, Camillo was PM Engineer, editor of the Association for Equipment Engineering Journal and Milling Journal.Jim has a degree in English from DePaul University.
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Post time: Aug-03-2022