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Frequently Asked Questions About Clearweld

What wavelength lasers can be used with the process?
Can a CO2 laser be used for the process?
Can thermoset polymers be laser welded?
Can glass be welded using the process?
Are dissimilar plastics laser weldable using Clearweld?
In what forms are the materials available?
Why are the Clearweld coatings solvent-based? Can the coating be water-based?
Can the Clearweld coating be screen printed or pad printed onto the surface of the plastics?
Do Clearweld coatings impart color?
If I use the Clearweld resin, does my part have to be a certain color?
Can black or gray parts be welded using Clearweld?
Is the Clearweld coating FDA approved?
Can you weld microfluidics?

What wavelength lasers can be used with the process?
Clearweld coatings are developed for 940 nm–1064 nm. Resins may be created for 808 nm–1064 nm.

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Can a CO2 laser be used for the process?
Plastics naturally absorb at the CO2 laser wavelength, 10.6 µm, therefore the Clearweld absorbing material is not needed. As a result of the inherent absorbance of the plastic, the top surface melts upon exposure to the laser. Only thin films are welded using a CO2 laser.

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Can thermoset polymers be laser welded?
No. The Clearweld process can only work on thermoplastics. Thermoset polymers degrade upon exposure to heat.

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Can glass be welded using the process?
No. Glass has not been successfully welded using the Clearweld process.

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Are dissimilar plastics laser weldable using Clearweld?
In order to be welded, the substrates must be chemically compatible and have similar melting temperatures. Chemically compatible means that the molecular structures are similar, for example, a non-polar polymer (polypropylene or polyethylene) will not weld to a polar polymer (polycarbonate or acrylic).

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In what forms are the materials available?
The Clearweld materials are available in three general forms: coating, ink, and resin. The coating is a solvent-based fluid that can be applied by a number of methods including liquid dispensing and spraying. The ink medium has a higher viscosity than the coating, and can be pad printed.  Clearweld absorbers can be compounded into a resin. The resin can then be processed as the bottom substrate of your part.

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Why are the Clearweld coatings solvent-based? Can the coating be water-based?
The absorbing material that enables welding readily dissolves in solvents. The material does not dissolve in water. Solutions allow a more even coating, and therefore a more consistent level of laser absorption.

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Can the Clearweld coating be screen printed or pad printed onto the surface of the plastics?  
Developments begun in 2012 have resulted in Clearweld inks that can be pad printed. This method provides accurate, cost-effective dispensing of the Clearweld absorber in applications unsuitable for the  low viscosity of the traditional Clearweld coatings.  Currently, the inks are custom-prepared.  Contact us for more information.

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Do Clearweld coatings impart color?
Clearweld coatings have a green tint before welding. When the process is optimized, the result will be a colorless weld. In order to achieve this goal the dispensing process must be optimized for your specific part design.

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If I use the Clearweld resin, does my part have to be a certain color?
Clearweld resins will have a slight coloration from the infrared absorbing material. However, the resin may be color matched to achieve your desired color effect. Clearweld resins can not be made totally colorless.

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Can black or gray parts be welded using Clearweld?
Most plastics that are colored black or gray contain carbon black. Carbon black is an infrared absorbing pigment, therefore the Clearweld coating would not be needed. There are dyes available that color the plastic black or nearly black while still maintaining transmission in the infrared region. These plastics can be welded using the Clearweld process.

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Is the Clearweld coating FDA approved?
In order to grant approval of a medical device, the FDA requires biocompatibility and other tests on the actual part. FDA does not grant approval for components of the device. A component is described as a raw material, substance, piece, part, etc., which is intended to be included as a part of the final product. An adhesive is one example.

The Clearweld coating is considered a component of a medical device since the coating is used in the manufacturing process. Therefore, the Clearweld coating can not be approved by FDA. Despite this, Clearweld undertook the initiative to submit a Clearweld coating for Class VI Plastics Tests. Analysis of the results show that the Clearweld coating, both prior to welding and after welding, meet the requirements of USP Class VI.

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Can you weld microfluidics?

Yes

 

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