Dave Sander [ February 2014 ]
Most home workshops have some type of welder. Whether it is a simple arc "stick" welder, a wire feed MIG welder, a modern TIG welder or a simple set of Oxygen-Acetylene torches, these tools are invaluable to a "Hands-on" automotive enthusiast.
Today, more and more things are made out of plastics. Inevitably, while working on a project, there will be a need to weld plastic. Unlike metal, plastic can not be electrically welded, as plastic is an insulator, not a conductor.
Like metal, plastic can be thermal-welded.This simply means fusing two similar plastics together with heat.
There are two affordable plastic welders available for the enthusiast. The most inexpensive type, is a hot air jet type. This type simply uses a jet of hot air to melt the welding surface and a plastic welding rod. This type of welder looks like a conventional hand held hair dryer with a metal cone tip at the end.
I have found this type to be particularly tricky to use. It is difficult to modulate the temperature, and the right temperature is critical for a good weld. If the temperature is too hot, the plastic burns, too cold and you cannot get a good bond.
The other option is speed tip welding, or airless welding. This welder looks a lot like a conventional soldering iron, only there is a slot in the tip for the welding rod to be fed into the machine. Speed tip welders have an adjustable heat setting, so the operator can "dial in" the proper temperature for the particular type of plastic.
I have both types of welders. I have used the speed top exclusively for the last several years, with very good results. I have successfully welded plastic interior parts, rubber bumpers, and many other miscellaneous parts.
I have a Urethane Supply welding kit. I bought my welder on Amazon for less than $200.00. It literally paid for itself the first time I fixed a bumper cover. They have much less expensive models starting at about $50.
This welder came with an instruction manual, welding rods and the welder itself, everything needed to begin plastic welding at home.
Like most welding, plastic welding takes a little practice. The right temperature is crucial. Too hot, you burn the plastic, too cold yields a cold weld with little strength.
As with metal welding, you have to use the appropriate plastic welding rod. It takes a little experience to be able to determine which rod to use with which plastics.
This tool turned out to be one of those tools that has proven to be very valuable, I can't imagine not having it.
Please email all inquiries to: Dave
or snail mail
32 Turkey Hill Road
Richmond VT 05477