Tech Watch: Dukane’s iQ i220 Integrated Servo Welder

by Lara Copeland, contributing editor, Plastics Decorating

With operations all over the world and headquarters in St. Charles, Illinois, Dukane provides plastic welding solutions for manufacturers globally. Dukane partners with its customers to develop and apply advanced solutions for their material joining, cutting and other manufacturing processes that utilize the company’s core technologies. The most recent addition to Dukane’s servo ultrasonic offering is the i220 Integrated servo welder.

This self-contained unit’s power supply is housed inside the press; thus, the press cabling is reduced drastically and the unit has a smaller footprint. Dukane’s National Sales and Marketing Manager Jason Barton noted that this smaller footprint welding system addresses the need for an “out of box” plug-and-play servo-driven ultrasonic welder. “Customers are happy to receive all the advantages of servo-driven ultrasonic welding technology in a cost-effective integrated package,” he said.

A host of enhancements can be found in the i220 servo, including an increase in servo speed, smoother motion and the latest graphical interface with improved resolution. “The increase in speed is up to 50 percent in some cases, while it continues to have the resolution that Dukane servo customers have come to know,” Barton remarked. By using the next generation of processor, the i220 servo welder has more onboard memory than previous generations and supports both graphical interface technology and multiple languages, including Japanese and Chinese.

Since all Dukane ultrasonic servo welding systems utilize patented Melt-Match® technology, “the customer will continue to see repeatability, accuracy and reliability in the integrated package,” Barton commented. Dukane’s Melt-Match® and Melt-Detect™ technologies harmonize the motion of ultrasonic stack with melting resin. “This produces stronger, more reliable weld results when compared to pneumatic systems,” he continued. Integrated all-electric true servo technology eliminates the variability associated with pneumatic press components.

The calibration and validation processes are simplified by 100 percent digital all-electric control. The Ethernet port is compatible with most Ethernet/IP protocols, making it easy to integrate in the automation manufacturing environment. Furthermore, this welding system is compatible with Dukane’s iQ Explorer software for process monitoring and data collection. An optimized weld process will create a constant power output throughout the melt phase of the weld cycle.

The process of cloning welder settings is uncomplicated due to elimination of pneumatics from the process. “If welding a high volume of parts, repeatable results are the goal,” Barton said. Many machines will likely be welding parts simultaneously. With the iQ Servo, multiple machines (welders) can be programmed to duplicate a known process. “With pneumatic systems, this presents a dilemma because of all the minor mechanical differences that exist from welder to welder,” he explained.

Careful consideration was taken to fulfill government requirements while also incorporating “green” technology. Features like multi-level password protection, process change audit history and documentation, and an indexed quick-change tool system make the welding system FDA compliant. It showcases Unique Device Identification and, to ensure validated processes remain unchanged, it does not have operator-accessible adjustment knobs or controls. Because there are no pneumatics, there is no compressed air. Dukane mechanical designers added an internal fan to eliminate the need for compressed air for cooling. “One of the highest costs endured by manufacturers today is associated with energy required to generate compressed air for pneumatic operations,” Barton stated. “It is estimated that only 50 percent of the compressed air generated is used for operation; the rest is lost due to leaks and waste.”

Technical details

iQ i220 Servo models have a 5″ (127mm) stroke and a fixture throat depth of 8.5″ (215.9mm). All models have a vertical maximum travel speed of 114.3mm/s (4.5″/second) and a maximum weld force of 250kg (550lbs). Additionally, the system contains an integrated electro-mechanical brake which provides increased safety. With the i220, control of the machine can be accessed through the front control panel or a computer using Dukane’s proprietary iQ Explorer II software. The control panel provides a combination of buttons and a 5.0″ WVGA (800×480 pixels) high-resolution graphic colored display screen.

The i220 Servo front panel contains a power indicator that appears as a lighted iQ Servo label. This indicator changes colors depending on the status of the machine. It appears green when the machine is ready to run a weld cycle, pink when outside of a standard run view, red when an alarm is triggered, blue when needing to be homed and yellow when in “offline” mode. Also, it will repeatedly cycle through each color during the startup sequence. Once the startup sequence is complete, the indicator will turn blue, meaning the system is ready to be homed.