Principal investigator: Benjamin Campbell

University: Robert Morris University

Industry partner: MECCO

This project will expand an existing partnership between Robert Morris University (RMU) and MECCO, an integrator of laser marking systems, to include a materials analysis partner as a service subcontractor to better understand the effect of lasers on plastics for welding. RMU and MECCO have collaborated for several years, developing a foundation to lead the domestic effort in plastic welding. MECCO has proven they can build viable systems with over 25 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 the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, 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, weld 3D printed components, and degate plastics components. RMU and MECCO have the expertise and capability to conduct mechanical tests on the plastic test samples. Through purchased services, RMU can verify plastic integrity after the welding processes with studies of morphology, rheology, and other material properties which are essential for industry partners to have confidence in the process. Although this service can be provided by any number of domestic labs, the preferred provider would be Penn State Behrend in order to involve more Pennsylvania students in this program. With the support of the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program, RMU and MECCO will be able to involve more students across Pennsylvania in this effort, expand local expertise to conduct welding experiments, and explore potential customers and markets for this technology.