Principal investigator: Ben Campbell

University: Robert Morris University

Industry partner: MECCO

This project will enhance a partnership between Robert Morris University (RMU) and MECCO (an integrator of laser marking systems) to provide the resources to jointly demonstrate the utility of lasers for plastic degating and welding to serve the needs of the plastics manufacturing industry. RMU and MECCO have been working together for three years researching plastic welding. MECCO has proven they can build viable systems with over 20 commercial laser welding systems delivered to just one international customer. RMU has proven they can test, analyze and optimize weld parameters with the resources in their Learning Factory. With previous support from DCED, RMU and MECCO were able to design and build a portable welding system, design a universal test piece, expand on the number of plastics successfully welded, and begin to explore welding 3D printed components. This effort involved 3 faculty and 11 students, and contributed to 2 masters theses and 3 honors theses and one student has transitioned to a full time position at MECCO and another is in consideration. The progress from this collaboration is leading to the commercial launch of a line of laser welding systems by MECCO in 2021. Through this work and conversations with customers, other opportunities for innovation were identified such as additional welding applications and utilizing lasers to degate injection molded plastic parts. MECCO will loan a CO2 laser to RMU for the degating investigation and provide other in-kind support with access to their knowledge, experience, and applications lab. With the support of the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program, RMU and MECCO will be able to involve more students in this effort and expand their ability to conduct welding and degating experiments and explore potential customers and markets for this technology