Machine Design

Press welding makes for durable, flexible electrical connectors

Laminated electrical connectors that are soldered or riveted together often generate high resistive voltage losses. They're also stiff and not flexible enough to meet the long-term demands of automotive welding machines and other moving electrical equipment. To solve this problem, engineers at Watteredge-Uniflex in Avon Lake, Ohio, are using press welding, a manufacturing technique that heats and squeezes copper laminates into a nearly solid bar. The copper sheets are positioned between heated graphite blocks which press the sheets together. The graphite transfers its heat to the copper and bonds the sheets together. But the copper can be drilled, machined, and handled like a solid copper component, but it has some flexibility. Press-welded connectors have minimal voltage losses and maintain a uniform current flow..

The copper sheets can vary from 0.003-in. thick to 0.045, with thinner sheets used when maximum flexibility is needed. For comparison, a 0.5-in.-thick soldered copper connector carrying 10,000 A could be replaced with a press-welded connector 3Z8-in. thick. Or, a press-welded connector that was 0.5-in. thick would last 30 to 35% longer than the soldered version Press-welded copper laminates reduce resistive voltage losses in electrical connectors and make for uniform current distributions.

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