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Publication Date: 02/1/2011
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Ultrasonic Metal Welding for Battery Manufacturing
Ultrasonic metal welder.

Ultrasonic metal welding (USW) has become an integral operation in the manufacturing of stored energy devices such as lithium ion batteries. There are several driving factors to the popularity of USW. Repeatable quality is inherent to the technology. By galling two conductive metals against each other, a true metallurgical weld is achieved through the use of simple friction. There is an exchange of material between the two metals in an ecologically responsible manner. No additional adhesives or heat is required and the process uses as little as one-thirtieth of the amount of energy as alternate methods such as resistance welding. Most welds only require a fraction of a second. The process is also economical as it does not require a continuous supply of mechanical fastener. Weld data is collected to ensure quality is maintained and it can be stored for future analysis.

Superior Tabbing and Joining
Whether the batteries are being wound to form cylindrical cells or stacked for prismatic batteries, USW provides superior tabbing and joining capabilities. Bonding each of a hundred foils is possible. Dissimilar metals may also be welded together. Manufacturers of prismatics are migrating to a USW connection from a bolted one to benefit from these features. Sonics' 15 kHz spot welder can provide reliable production USW up to 100 mm2. Both plastic and metallic pouches may be sealed and tab-welded to one another using ultrasonics.

The assembly of battery packs offers USW the opportunity to replace soldering as a means of connecting various types of batteries together. The value-added service of providing OEMs custom battery packs has become a differentiator for battery distributors. Sonics' Ultrasonic Battery Pack Welder (UPBW) is capable of welding the interconnect points in tight areas without the use of additional consumables or extensive training. As easily as using a stapler, these USW are made in fractions of a second.

The power supply/controller's ability to store welding parameters in a barcode-accessible library and to record quality data to a PC-based database are fast becoming standard operating procedures within the battery manufacturing industry. Power graphs can detect changes in fixturing that would eventually affect weld quality if left unattended. A wide range of power levels is available to accommodate nearly every application.

Sonics & Materials, Inc. has been manufacturing ultrasonic plastics welders and ultrasonic liquid processors for over forty years. Over the past several years, they have introduced a line of seven metal welders with patented features that allow the technology to be even more efficient and easy to use. For example, the keyed nodal clamping system uniquely affixes the horn to the actuator by the simple use of a threaded locking collar. The stack may be replaced in seconds without any recalibration or fine-tuning.

The actuator utilizes four sets of re-circulating bearings to provide true machine tool quality without any starting stanchion to impede its initial movement. The gasket-less single air cylinder provides over 1000 pounds of force to the work piece via a clever lever system in conjunction with space-saving I-beam construction for a compact footprint.

Seam Welding
Sonics' ultrasonic seam welder gives manufacturers the ability to seal the perimeter of pouches of virtually any size. A special rotating horn transmits the ultrasonic energy to the materials as it rolls along the surface. The design allows for simple integration into gantry or robotic automation equipment.

Other ultrasonic welders include the wire splicer for the assembly of wire harnesses and a tube sealer primarily used in the refrigeration industry for copper tubing. The wire splicer's PC interface allows the operator to enter the number and size wire and all adjustments are made automatically. More advanced operation includes the ability to establish a predetermined sequence of welds so that harnesses can be completed with less handling.

All welders are integration-friendly for OEM use by special machinery builders for installation into automated systems. Application-specific tooling and fixturing for manual and automated systems are also available.

Contact: Sonics and Materials, Inc., 53 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470 800-745-1105 or 203-270-4600 fax: 203-270-4610 E-mail: Web:

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