Ultrasonic welding is a highly promising technique for joining thermoplastic to thermoset composites. A neat thermoplastic coupling layer is co-cured on the surface to be welded to make the thermoset composite ‘weldable’. A reliable bond is attained when miscible thermoplastic and thermoset materials are chosen. For welding carbon fibre/polyetheretherketone (PEEK) to thermoset composite samples, a PEEK film is not preferable due to its immiscibility with epoxy resins. On the other hand, polyetherimide is an excellent candidate, since it is known to be miscible to most epoxy systems at high temperatures and PEEK polymers. This study focusses on two main subjects; firstly, the nature of the material of the energy director, i.e. a flat thermoplastic film used to promote heat generation at the interface. In this case, the energy director can be either polyetherimide, as in the coupling layer or PEEK material, as in the matrix of the thermoplastic composite adherend. It was found that both materials can produce welds with similar mechanical performance. This study focusses secondly on the thickness of the coupling layer. Due to the high melting temperature of the PEEK matrix, a 60-µm-thick coupling layer was seemingly too thin to act as a thermal barrier for the epoxy resin for heating times long enough to produce fully welded joints. Such an issue was found to be overcome by increasing the thickness of the coupling layer to 250 µm, which resulted in high-strength welds.
- ultrasonic welding