Thermal Degradation of PC and PA6 During Laser Transmission Welding (LTW)

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Okoro, Tasie B.
Laser Welding Thermoplastics
In laser transmission welding (LTW), a laser beam passes through the laser-transparent part and is absorbed by carbon black (CB) in the laser-absorbent part. This causes a temperature rise at the interface between the parts which leads to melting, diffusion and ultimately joining of the two components. Weld temperatures increase with laser power at a given scan speed. However at higher temperatures, it has been observed that weld strength of LTW starts to decline due to material thermal degradation. Thermal degradation of materials is a kinetic phenomenon which depends on both temperature and time. Therefore there is no specific temperature for thermal degradation. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) is used to study the thermal degradation of two commonly used thermoplastic materials: polycarbonate (PC) and polyamide 6 (PA6). Each material was studied at two levels of CB. It is shown in this work that increasing the carbon black (CB) level from 0.05 to 0.2wt% has no significant effect on the thermal stability of PA6. However, it is observed that increasing the CB level from 0.05 to 0.2wt% has a noticeable effect on the thermal stability of PC. The TGA data were then used to obtain the kinetic triplets (frequency factor (k_0), activation energy (E), and reaction model (f(α))) of the materials using a non-linear model-fitting method. These kinetic triplets were combined with temperature-time data obtained from a Finite Element Method (FEM) simulation of the LTW process to predict material degradation during LTW. The predicted degradation was then compared with experimental data. It is found that the predicted onset of material degradation is in good agreement with experimentally observed thermal degradation (of both visually observed degradation onset and weld strength decline) for PC and PA6. A semi-empirical model based on the FEM temperature data is also developed in this work as a simpler alternative for obtaining LTW maximum temperature-time profiles for prediction of material thermal degradation during LTW. Comparison of the predicted material conversion using temperature-time profile obtained by FEM and the semi-empirical model shows good agreement.
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