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Abstract

Vibration welding offers a robust method for physically joining thermoplastics to fabricate complex hollow assemblies from simpler injection-molded articles without using an external heat source, adhesives, or mechanical fasteners. Vibration welding involves a complex interplay of several phenomena—solid (Coulomb) friction, melting, high strain-rate, pressure-driven, strong (high-strain) melt flows, solidification, and microstructure development—which ultimately govern the strength and integrity of the weld. Defects in the weld region may lead to catastrophic failure of the welded assembly. In this article, the current understanding of the processing–structure–property relationships in the context of vibration welding of thermoplastics and polymer-matrix composites is reviewed. Experimental as well as analytical methods of investigation of the vibration welding process phenomenology are presented. The interrelationships between the microstructure in the weld region and the resulting weld strength and fatigue behavior are then discussed in the light of this phenomenological information for neat polymers, filled polymers, polymer blends, and foams. This review is also aimed at identifying the areas requiring further investigation with regard to understanding vibration welding phenomenology and weld structure–property relationships. POLYM. ENG. SCI., 2011. © 2010 Society of Plastics Engineers