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plastic to metal joining methods Posted Feb 18, 2019

Understanding Heat Staking and Swaging in the Plastic Joining Process

While the Kimastle Corporation may be experts in all things steel fabrication, including the joining of plastic and metal, not everyone is familiar with a heat staking press or the process of heat swaging. Therefore, before understanding how a steel fabricating enterprise can help you and your business, it is necessary to understand both the heat staking and swaging processes and to understand the best practices for either approach. Each of the plastic to metal joining methods are useful, but each has specific applications where one or the other is more beneficial to the final joining.

The Difference Between the Plastic to Metal Joining Methods

Heat staking and heat swaging are evolutions in the manufacturing industry. Prior to the development of these technologies, industries relied on equipment like ultrasonic or hot plate welders. Thankfully, technological advancements and achievements led to more unique and economically efficient thermal presses, making both heat staking and swaging more feasible. The truth is that as automotive parts, consumer electronics, and even medical devices became more complex, these processes became more necessary because they resolved an engineering issue of locking two components together through time, temperature and force. However, each process is different, meaning that each is only good for specific applications.

  • Heat Staking

    Heat staking equipment relies on force and heat to form a new shape and secure two components to each other. Primarily, the machine heats up a plastic post protruding from one item and through what’s called a mating component. As the post is heated, it is pressed or staked downward to form a new shape and securing it to the mating component.

  • Heat Swaging

    Heat swaging is similar to heat staking. However, instead of using downward force, swaging relies on lateral movement and pressure. In thermal assembly machines, the chamber or wall that holds the component is pressed and rolled against the plastic post, resulting in precise and repeatable results. However, while different, both staking and swaging rely on a combination of time, heat and force.

The Right Choice

Heat staking plastic or swaging both result in a tight and reliable mating of plastic and a component. However, both plastic to metal joining methods are used for very specific and different reasons. Staking is the best option for things like medical devices, LED tail lights, automotive infotainment centers and other consumer electronics. Swaging, on the other hand, is best suited for framing hard surfaces without holes; for instance glass displays or metal grilles.

Heat staking allows for one plastic housing to secure multiple components or even the use of one plastic body for the assembly of various pieces. Therefore, staking may be the best option for intricate designs that require the connection of a variety of materials for one cohesive assembled product.

Heat swaging, alternatively, is a process designed for direct framing. However, more than that, it is a specially designed joining process for hard materials, like glass and metal, that are harder than the needed frame. Additionally, swaging allows for connection when there are no existing holes for the staking process.

Heat staking and swaging both evolved out of necessity. The manufacturing industry has continued to reinvent the wheel when it comes to automotive engineering, medical devices and consumer electronics. Parts and pieces continue to get, and the requirements for assembly needed a process that allowed for a variety of materials to be connected utilizing plastic as a catalyst. Therefore, if you find that your operations are in need of both metal fabrication and plastic molding, then contact the Kimastle Corporation and call a representative at 1-586-949-2355. They will be able to talk to you about all of your fabrication needs as well as address the appropriate heat forming process and plastic to metal joining methods.

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