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Heat Staking to reduce assembly labor

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

For low-cost assemblies, (toys, games, disposable items) labor cost can be the highest ticket item on the COGs. 

(COGS = Cost of Goods Sold)

Assembly labor includes things like inserting screws, applying adhesive, applying labels, kitting, packaging, etc. 

If we can find ways to remove manual labor, the cost can be reduced drastically.

Reducing labor directly increases profits.

A simple COGs savings of $0.50 on a 100k annual production volume translates into $50k pure profit. 

That's an easy ROI.

Even if we spent $20k on tooling and fixturing to , it's still a $30k bump in profits year one!

Increased profits help justify automation investments later to further reduce assembly labor.

Heat staking is the process of thermally reflowing plastic material to fasten a component in an assembly.  Some examples where heat staking is used are the following:

  1. PCBA retention

  2. Threaded inserts 

  3. Combining plastic parts

Things to think about when selecting heat-staking as your fastening method:

  1. Will your device need to pass a drop test? (heat stakes are weaker joints than screws)

  2. Will your device need to be disassembled for warranty or repair? (screws are better for disassembly)

  3. Does your device have design clearance for heat staking equipment/tooling? (heat staking dies are bigger than a screwdriver)

There are several things to consider when changing from a screw/clip or other fastening feature. 

I'm happy to help you walk through these topics and help reduce your assembly cost. 

Here's a link to my favorite heat staking design guideline:

PAS is a great resource for heat staking equipment and design assistance. 

They also have great resources on UW (ultrasonic welding) but we'll discuss that another day.


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