Sonobond vice president Melissa Alleman is the first to agree that failure is not an option when it comes to products designed to protect military personnel and police officers of all types. Alleman says, “At Sonobond, we’re proud that our technology has been proven to have the exceptional reliability so essential in assembling ballistic vests to help keep these brave men and women safe. Those serving in the armed services, Secret Service agents, members of the CIA and IRS, emergency responders, and law enforcement officers in a wide variety of capacities, wear body armor at various times.

“And two Sonobond machines—the SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Bonder and the SureWeld 20 Ultrasonic PlungeBonder—are assisting manufacturers in complying with the increasingly tough National Institute of Justice standards that now require ballistic vests to be waterproof even after submersion for 30 minutes. In fact, over 30 body armor manufacturers have been so impressed with the speed, dependability, and performance of our ultrasonic bonding technology that they’ve made our equipment a critical part of their assembly process,” says Alleman.

Sonobond to exhibit at the 2012 SHOT Show
Those interested in how ultrasonic bonding equipment is used to assemble body armor are encouraged to visit Sonobond at the 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT) in Las Vegas, Jan. 17-20. Alleman explains, “Sonobond will be sharing space with Brookwood Companies, a leading and highly respected supplier of quality textiles for a wide variety of applications, including body armor. Show attendees are encouraged to come to Sonobond’s exhibition at the Sands Expo & Convention Center.

“We will have one of our SeamMaster High Profile bonders on hand. We will also be very glad to discuss the ways our ultrasonic bonding technology can be applied to specific manufacturing situations. All Sonobond equipment uses ultrasonic energy. And both the SeamMaster High Profile Bonder and the SureWeld 20 PlungeBonder reliably seam and seal synthetic materials in just one pass. They do this without stitching, heat-sealing, or adhesives.”

A fast, dependable way to seal the outer shell of ballistic vests
Sonobond’s SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Bonder features a rotary system for rapid sealing, sewing, and trimming of synthetic fabrics. Its production speeds are up to four timesfaster than conventional sewing machines and ten times faster than adhesive methods. Fraying or unraveling of bonded edges and seams are virtually eliminated. Similar in appearance to traditional sewing machines, the SeamMaster High Profile Bonder features a large wheel with a high clearance above the bench to provide fast, easy access for bulky materials and hand-guided operations. As a result, this Sonobond ultrasonic bonder is ideal for sealing the outer nylon shell of body armor to protect the ballistic-resistant material inside. Seams bonded by this machine are so perfectly fused and sealed that they pass the current National Institute of Justice (NIJ) submersion tests imposed by NIJ- 0101.06. These latest standards for wet conditioning require protection from submersion for 30 minutes, rather than protection from a spray shower. Alleman says, “One leading manufacturer of body armor told us they improved the output of their ballistic panel assembly process by approximately 25 percent by using our SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Bonder. These machines are available in modular form for convenient integration into production lines. And, like all Sonobond equipment, the SeamMaster Series is easy to operate with only minimal training.”

Attaching straps to the outer shell of body armor
Sonobond offers another machine that makes the assembly of body armor faster, easier, and more cost-effective. The SureWeld 20 PlungeBonder is powerful and able to seal large, multiple-layer or difficult-to-bond materials. It has custom tooling that makes it ideal for ultrasonically bonding coated synthetic straps within the seam of a ballistic vest’s outer shell. This is donewithout compromising the integrity of the ultrasonically sealed outer shell. The bond is made in one pulse without stitching, heat-sealing, or adhesives. The entire process is energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly. When the SureWeld 20 PlungeBonder makes the bond, the outer shell material and the strap are placed between the machine’s customized horn and anvil. The anvil is surrounded by a plexiglass plate that supports the materials. High frequency vibrations are then channeled to the materials to create a localized buildup of heat. This produces a high-quality seal without heating the surrounding area.

The machine itself consists of a rugged welding press and a heavy-duty 1000- to 1500-watt power supply. A rigid rectangular support column eliminates deflection, even at the full 660 lb. force level. There is also a built-in leveling feature in the base with “T” slot and toe clamps for reliable fixture holding. Changeover of the converter/booster/horn can be done easily by loosening the bolt and opening the cover to remove or replace the component. The SureWeld 20 Ultrasonic PlungeBonder with customized tooling can comfortably attach straps to five vests per minute.

Advantages of ultrasonic assembly
Ultrasonic bonding technology does not require needles, thread, or glue. Instead, woven and nonwoven synthetic materials or blends with up to 40 percent natural fibers are fused by ultrasonic vibrations. This means manufacturers and assemblers no longer need to be concerned about stitch holes, glue gaps, or related issues. In fact, Sonobond’s ultrasonic bonding is so reliable that it is capable of satisfying the tough regulatory requirements for sealing the medical disposables used to help protect doctors, nurses, and other personnel from hazardous fluids. Sonobond provides a free Ultrasonic Viability Bonding Test to help manufacturers and assemblers determine which ultrasonic unit is best for their specific needs. Companies are encouraged to contact Ms. Alleman to take advantage of this no-cost, no-obligation offer. Arrangements can then be made to have sample bonds produced using Sonobond equipment.

Over a half century of leadership
For more than fifty years, Sonobond Ultrasonics has been a respected leader in the development of ultrasonic bonding and welding equipment. During this time, the company has earned a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work and quality-engineered products. Today the company offers a complete line of bonding and welding equipment for customers across a wide spectrum of fields.

These include respected names in the apparel, ballistics, filtration, medical, automotive, appliance, electrical, and aerospace industries. In addition to its high standards of technical excellence, Sonobond is committed to providing the very best in customer service. Alleman says, “Manufacturers can count on us to make the installation of our equipment as seamless as possible. We work closely with our customers every step of the way. We respond promptly to their questions and provide top-quality technical support.”