Hot air plastic welding is a process that can be employed to weld not only rigid thermoplastics, but also flexible thermoplastics. In both cases there can sometimes be concerns raised about the potential smells and or fumes, and what should be done to keep operators safe.
We supply some of the highest quality plastic welding tools available in todays market, all designed & developed in Switzerland. These tools incorporate electronic temperature control, which is essential when welding thermoplastics, as their welding temperatures vary.
All thermoplastics can be welded, but there are some fundamental rules required to achieve strong structural welding.
As only “like” materials can be welded (eg. PP can only be welded with PP welding rod, and so on), it is important to understand what type of materials are to be welded. We have simplified this process with our Rod Test Kits (RTK‘s). The RTK consists of a large selection of welding rod materials, all marked & coded. These RTKs are helping to reduce exposure to fume hazards as they completely eliminate the need for an ID ‘burn test’. Once the material has been identified with a RTK it is very easy to set the correct welding temperature on the welding tool. Thus removing potential inhalation fumes from burning or degrading materials.
The majority of thermoplastics welded at their correct welding temperature are little cause for concern – providing adequate ventilation is applied.
What about welding PVC ?
PVC is found in two forms – ‘rigid’ and ‘flexible’. PVC is still being used in a wide range of applications – The rigid form of PVC can be found in profile extrusions, in applications such as – doors, windows and pipes. It is also found in packaging and even bank and credit cards. PVC can be made more flexible with addition of a plasticizer. In this form PVC is also used in plumbing applications, electrical cable insulations, imitation leather products, signage boards, LP records (vinyl LP’s), inflatable products, and even gymnasium & hosptial floor coverings.
Exposure to fumes given off during hot air plastic welding of plastics such as PVC, is not normally likely to give cause for concern. However there may be a health risk where the welding of PVC takes place in a confined space, or perpahs when welding occurs where ventilation is poor.
We recommend using good health and safety practises.
Only carry out hot air plastic welding in well ventilated areas. If this is not possible use an extraction unit to remove fumes. We also recommend use of breathing protection where ventilation is poor, or there are concerns expressed by the operator.
Here is some general information covering respiratory protection. This is a documemnt from Work Safe New Zealand covering different types of respiratory protection. It is a guide only and further consultation should be carried out with your heatlh & safety officer or health adviser.