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MATERIALS • PROCESSES • FINISHES


SECTION TITLE


Product safety is writ large at Playmobil. To ensure safe play, head coverings of the infant series 1.2.3 are welded onto the figures’ little heads with ultrasound. Te toy maker relies on customised ultrasonic welding equipment from Weber Ultrasonics. In an automated process, the system welds different types of head covering into place at a six-second pace and then checks the quality of the weld. In the early 1970s Horst Brandstätter, at this time the sole owner of today’s geobra Brandstätter Stiftung & Co. with headquarters in Zirndorf near Nuremberg in Germany, asked his head developer Hans Beck to design a new play system. In 1974 Playmobil took the world’s playrooms by storm when it launched figures of a Native American, construction worker and knight. Since then more than 5,700 variants of this creative, award- winning toy system have been produced for imaginative roleplays in historical and modern scenarios. Over the years, more than three billion women, men, girls, boys and babies in widely varying outfits and with numerous accessories


W


ith their iconic smiles and varied outfits, Playmobil figures entertain and fascinate children around the world.


have been developed. As product safety is so important, every article is tested prior to production for break resistance – for example, in external testing laboratories. Te plastic and dyes also are examined to ensure their harmlessness for children and every product is certified.


HIGH SAFETY REQUIREMENTS IN FIGURE MANUFACTURING Te figures are manufactured in the Playmobil factory on Malta. Very high safety requirements are met there too. For example, the head covering on the little playmates of the infant series 1.2.3 has to be firmly attached to the head to prevent a child from swallowing the small pieces. Te permanent connection is made with an ultrasonic welding process. Given the complexity of the welding job and its high quality criteria, the Playmobil managers responsible for the project turned to Weber Ultrasonics, developer and manufacturer of ultrasound components and systems for ultrasonic welding, cutting and cleaning. Te company was chosen because it could advise Playmobil of the ideal part geometry for welding while the shapes of heads and head coverings were being developed. Playmobil also relied on


Weber Ultrasonics to help coordinate the ultrasonic components, welding processes and system engineering. On the basis of the modular welding platform Saphir, Weber Ultrasonics adapted two highly flexible, compatible systems to meet Playmobil requirements. Each is equipped with an innovative generator and control concept that allows the complete capture, monitoring and documentation of processing parameters. If required, other functions and processes can be added. At Playmobil the systems have integrated safety functions, mechanical quality control by means of a tension test and height control, plus product marking and sorting. Te newest system has been designed


to process 600 parts per hour. It consists of the welding unit with an indexed workpiece support. Downstream is the testing and marking area with a rotary indexing table with four part-specific workpiece supports. Te welding system is equipped with two sonotrodes for different sized heads (adult or child) and 16 workpiece supports for varied head coverings. Tanks to the flexible system design, only a corresponding tool is required for the processing of new types of head coverings. With the welding


The head and its covering are joined manually and placed in the part-specific tool. After a light curtain tells the control unit that the worker has finished positioning the parts, the safety door moves downwards and the welding process begins


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