Radio Frequency (RF) welding for medical device packaging
RF welding (or high frequency welding) is the process of bonding together materials through the use of electromagnetic energy. Electromagnetic waves are used to heat the material to a point where it begins to melt and form a bond. No external heat is applied. The weld is completed by applying pressure to the bonded area, ensuring a successful seal.
UFP Technologies has the manufacturing capabilities to perform RF welding on various types of rigid plastics, films and medical grade foams including the following:
- TPU films
- Thermoplastic polyurethanes
- Open Celled Polyurethanes
The appeal of RF welding is in the completeness of the weld. Using this method can create very robust hermetic seals. Many welds are subject to pull tests, leak tests, and optical tests to determine that the correct conditions have been achieved.
RF welding has several advantages over other sealing methods such as sewing, gluing and using hot air. With sewing, an air tight seal is not achieved, making the seal vulnerable to air, moisture and debris entering. RF welding provides a consistent air tight seal which is crucial for the functionality of medical device packaging. RF welds also evenly distribute stress throughout the material providing a much stronger seam.
Gluing, which can provide an air tight solution, takes much longer than RF welding and often uses hazardous solvents which can be problematic when used in medical applications. Glued seams are also subject to failure once the adhesive has worn out.
Heating materials with hot air is only effective up to certain thicknesses. Thick materials will not completely bond if the core fails to reach the proper temperature. Using hot air to bond thick materials can also results in the outside layers becoming over heated or burned. RF welding heats from the inside out, ensuring a thorough bond throughout the material.
Our ability to perform RF welding on various materials within our ISO Class 8 and ISO Class 7 clean rooms ensures that our customers' medical packaging, product and component solutions are suitable for sterilized medical environments.