Several months ago, while spending some time in our Innovation Group, one of our company’s founders (or I can say engineers) asked me to come and take a look at something. Standing in our innovation area, Chip walks me over to a workbench where I see an unassuming setup with a small pneumatic cylinder which holds a pencil-shaped device, only shorter. It’s small with what appears to be undersized wires and a hose coming out of the top. It’s hovering over one of Extol’s plastic test coupons which I’ve staked or riveted using ultrasonic and InfraStake modules hundreds, if not thousands of times. Nearby there is a start button waiting to be pushed.
“Push it,” Chip says. I do and watch as the prototype eases quietly and quickly through the plastic. It pauses at the bottom and cools rapidly as the plastic reforms to give a strong stake. Just then, not 3 seconds after the module was clearly hot enough to melt and form plastic, Chip presses his finger on the tip of the module, exactly where it had just melted the plastic. I react, moving to grab his arm in a purely instinctual move. I hesitate, because… of course, he knows what he’s doing. He smiles quietly as if he knew it was coming.
This is the power of nanoSTAKE. Our team developed the technology further and as we brought nanoSTAKE to the largest plastics show in North America last month, our team watched while many potential customers and competitors wondered how we were cleanly staking a tricky plastic like polycarbonate in a matter of 6-8 seconds with a new technology. This patent-pending product is designed to fit neatly into tight-fit places which are common in LED lighting, medical devices, and electronics. Using our proprietary Smart Respond Heating Technology, our closed-loop system can determine the precise position of the final stake and even visually communicate each module’s real-time status to the user.
What else makes the technology unique? Power. And not much of it. Using less than 1.5 Amps at 120 VAC, the low current allows for small wires with easily manageable connections. Despite this low current, the system can stake parts as if it had thermal capacity many times higher than the actual amount. The system is also designed to stake tricky plastics that traditionally stick. Coupled with its self-contained control system, the closed-loop process is set and monitored without having to build your own control system.
Nick is a mechanical engineer who works with Extol’s Design, Controls, Service, Applications, and Manufacturing Solutions teams. When Nick isn’t thinking about plastic joining machines, he’s cycling, boating, or hanging out with his wife and boys.