Sonics was founded in 1969 by Robert Soloff, 4 years after he was awarded the patent for discovering the ultrasonic method for welding rigid thermoplastic parts. His vision was to create a company that would advance the field of ultrasonic technology while specializing in the design, development and manufacturing of ultrasonic equipment.
Mr. Soloff’s inventive creative energy fueled the growth of Sonics and would lead to the acquisition of 13 new patents in his name. As a pioneer in the industry, with a passion for both ultrasonics and his growing company, Mr. Soloff created and nurtured an environment of innovation at Sonics. Introducing new young minds to the unique intricacies of the technology, he fosters a spirit of scientific collaboration that gives rise to more new discoveries (18 additional company patents, plus another 3 pending) while expanding the knowledge base of many young engineers.
Over 5 decades of innovative plastics engineering, Mr. Soloff has accumulated a total of 13 patents in his name and has overseen an additional 18 company patents. Patented products and processes are listed below by division.
The beginning of ultrasonic plastics welding as we know it today started in 1963, while Robert Soloff was working on a project for seam welding films wherein thin plastic films were passed under a probe to weld bags and tubes. Working with a probe in hand, he accidentally brought it into contact with the Scotch tape dispenser on his desk and the two halves of the dispenser welded together. Seeing this, he realized that sound waves could travel around corners and down the sides of rigid plastics to reach the joint area to be welded.
Quickly realizing the many potential uses for this process, Mr. Soloff went out that same day and bought a bunch of toys, such as harmonicas and dolls, which had been glued together. He then cut apart the toys, contacted the parts with the probe, and welded them together. The very first presentation of the ultrasonics process to the Ideal Toy Company resulted in a request to replace the hand-held method with a more automated approach. Accordingly, Mr. Soloff took a Stanley drill press stand that he had in his home workshop and modified it to hold a converter and half-inch step horn. He added an air cylinder, a valve, and a couple of mechanical timers, and finally, wiring to turn the ultrasonics on and off with a weld timer, a hold timer and a foot switch. Ideal bought this first ultrasonic press on the spot - for a Roy Rogers stagecoach cowboy kit.
Mr. Soloff went on to receive the patent for the ultrasonic method for welding rigid thermoplastic parts, subsequently developing and marketing his ultrasonic equipment to a wide variety of industries all over the world.
The next patent awarded to Mr. Soloff was for the ultrasonic staking of plastics in 1968. In 1964, he was faced with the challenge of attaching a vacuum impeller to a metal ring for Electrolux. He came up with the idea of sticking some projections up through the metal ring and then squeezing them down. He tried it, it worked and thus was the process of ultrasonic staking created. For this he was awarded United States Patent #3,367,809.
Shortly after this, in 1965, Mr. Soloff refined the process of insertion which up to that time had involved metal insertion with a probe contacting the metal insert. Mr. Soloff created a process whereby the same result was achieved by contacting and driving plastic against the metal insert. This prevented the surface of the horn or the insert from being subject to wear or stress.
Over the next 45 years, Mr. Soloff has remained at the vanguard of pioneering ultrasonic technology, and continues today to refine and develop more plastics assembly processes and equipment. In 1969, he founded Sonics & Materials, Inc., a leading manufacturer of equipment, tooling and systems for ultrasonic welding, vibration welding, spin welding, hot plate welding and heat staking of thermoplastics. He continues to serve as its president and CEO and in these capacities continues to advance the field of plastics assembly. He is a former director of the Ultrasonic Industry Association.
Mr. Soloff wrote the first article ever to appear on ultrasonic welding of rigid thermoplastic parts in Modern Plastics, March, 1964 entitled “New concepts in Ultrasonic Sealing.” He has since authored other articles over the years for a variety of different publications, including but not limited to the list below.