Most of the time when something made out of plastic breaks, we assume the only thing you can do is throw it out and buy another of whatever it is. For small, cheap items, this is more or less true, but there are plenty of plastic items that are simply components of more expensive pieces of hardware.
For instance, there are numerous plastic components in your car. Maybe part of the armrest has come undone or a piece of the dash handle broke off. In this case, the pain of doing without until you get a new car — which may not be for some years yet — make the need for an alternative type of fix for plastic necessary.
That is where plastic welding comes into play. Of course, plastic welding does not work exactly like metal welding, which is far more common, even if the process is similar. As such, it can be difficult to know which plastic welder is right for you.
That is why we have put together a list of the 8 best plastic welders, detailing their pros and cons as well as a more general write-up. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you know how to choose the plastic welder you need.
Best Plastic Welder 2017
|Steinel Heat Gun Kit||1500 watts||heat gun|
|Polyvance Model 7||200 watts||airless welder|
|Bondic 12 Piece DIY Kit||battery||liquid plastic + UV|
|Hobie Welder Pro||80 watts||airless welder|
|Weldy Hot Air Gun||1600 watts||heat gun|
|Gizmo Welding Gun||1500 watts||heat gun|
|Master Appliance Kit||1300 watts||heat gun|
|Portasol Welding Kit||butan gas||airless welder|
1. Steinel Heat Gun Kit, 25th Anniversary Edition: Optimum Hot Air Plastic Welder
Steinel is known as a professional manufacturer of heat guns. In fact, the Steinel is rated higher by professionals than similar tools made by other top professional power tool companies like Bosch and Milwaukee. A big part of the reason why is that Steinel actually specializes in making heat based tools — though this actually extends well beyond simply hot air guns.
Regardless, the Steinel checks so many boxes, that it is difficult to believe that this is actually the least expensive hot air gun on our list. Moreover, this product did not skimp out on any necessary features to provide such a reasonable price.
First, this hot air gun offers numerous features that ensure you can accomplish your plastic welding proficiently. First, the heat can be altered by ten-degree steps. But keep in mind, that this can get a bit tricky, because the temperature is not always as hot as the display denotes. Of course, that can often be due to the airflow settings.
The fact that the Steinel offers three different airflow settings without the need for an external — and generally purchased separate — regulator is a huge blessing. However, this also means that anyone using the Steinel will need to understand how the difference in airflow affects the actual temperature of the hot air. Basically, the more air that the gun pushes, the lower the maximum temperature.
Still, the fact that the Steinel is only one of two products on our list to provide a digital temperature reading should tell you something — especially when the only other is the most expensive product we reviewed. Moreover, this hot air gun also puts out a second-best 1500 watts.
2. Polyvance 5700HT Mini Weld Model 7 : Best Rated Airless Plastic Welder
If the potential quirks and issues that regularly accompany hot air plastic welders are more trouble than they are worth, then you are likely in the market for a contact-based plastic welder. However, many const plastic welders are not the best quality and designed more for hobbyists than professionals.
This is in large part due to the fact that contact plastic welders are rarely able to perform functionally for larger jobs and find themselves incapable of working on automotive projects or other pieces of larger equipment. However, that does not mean that plastic welders for smaller items need to be amateurish in performance or design.
That is where the Polyvance comes into play. This plastic welder is a contact welder with professional performance. Of course, that means you should also expect to pay a professional cost. In fact, the Polyvance is close to the same price as most of the other hot air plastic welders.
Still, if you regularly work on smaller projects, the Polyvance can provide a wealth of benefits. First, this plastic welder comes with its own temperature regulator. Considering the most difficult part of plastic welding is ensuring the temperature is hot enough to melt without getting too hot to burn, this feature is a welcome addition.
Moreover, this welder comes with a heating element that you can replace as well as two different types of tips depending on the type of weld you need to accomplish. Moreover, this product includes a variety of different types of plastics.
However, keep in mind, because it is a contact welder, this product is not intended to be used for a number of different types of welding techniques. In fact, you are most likely to get the best use out of the Polyvance for tack welds as opposed to speed welds.
3. Bondic 12 Piece DIY: Best Liquid UV Plastic Welder Kit
Unlike the other products on our list, the Bondic liquid plastic welder is not actually a plastic welder. Whereas the other plastic welders on our list use some form of heat to melt the plastic into some form of seal, Bondic starts from an entirely different principle.
This product actually starts with the plastic in a viscous, semi-liquid state. In fact, you will need to distribute the liquid plastic with an applicator tube. In this way, Bondic actually functions more similarly to a glue or epoxy than plastic. However, the bonding material used is not at all like glue.
Where glue relies on a cooling temperature or exposure to air to set, the Bondic liquid plastic is instead activated by a UV light. This UV light sets off a chemical process which causes the plastic to harden. This process is exceedingly convenient but comes with a few caveats.
First, Bondic is not at all intended for use with large jobs. The bonding material itself, while strong enough for small items, does not have the type of strength required to stand up to professional jobs, like automotive repairs. However, for plastic cords or other small projects, the bond is more than strong enough.
Another issue with the Bondic welder is that you often need to apply it several times before you have a bond strong enough to hold. This has to do with the use of the UV light as an activator. The UV light will not penetrate a thick spread of the bonding agent, so you must apply a thin amount, activate it, and repeat.
4. Hobie KC Welder Pro With Rod Stock: Inexpensive and Easy-to-use
As the brand name suggests, the Hobie Welder Pro is a bit more specialized than many of the other products on our list. In fact, this is the most specialized contact plastic welder, and not at all designed to handle even some of the broader uses as the Polyvance or Portasol.
However, if you have an appropriately narrow project load, then the Hobie welder can provide an effective tool at a fraction of the cost of the other products on our list. Still, that limited versatility definitely makes this plastic welder more of a niche tool than a legitimate contender.
First, this plastic welder is only rated for use with polyethylene. Granted, there are a wide number of products that can be fixed with polyethylene, but there are far more instances of plastic welding that require a multitude of other materials. This alone limits the value of this plastic welder beyond a small market.
However, even for those can find use with the Hobie, they will likely find that tool a bit too slow to use. Keep in mind, the plastic itself is fed by the user, but you have no control over the temperature — which is why this welder is rated for use with only a single type of material.
In fact, the Hobie plastic welder is a contact welder that only uses an 80-watt element. This not only limits the use of this welder for polyethylene, but it also prevents the welder from melting the plastic quickly. As such, it is actually far easier to burn the plastic if you are not paying close attention.
5. Hot Blast Torch Overlap Air Welding Gun: High Quality and Reliability
Weldy aims to position itself as a direct competitor with the more widely known Leister hot air gun at a fraction of the cost. However, depending on exactly what you need to use it for, it is more or less equitable for the task.
Specifically, if you intend to use the Weldy for smaller jobs, then it will perform admirably and you will likely not have any issues. If, however, you attempt to use the Weldy for industrial grade tasks like you would a Leister, then you are likely in for a rude awakening.
While the Weldy advertises the same temperature range as a Leister, the higher end of temperatures are generally not true to form. Moreover, the Weldy takes much longer to even get at its maximum temperature. When you consider that there are other plastic welders on our list at comparable prices without this flaw, it definitely calls into question the value saved with the Weldy.
Still, the Weldy does offer some advantages. For one, this style of hot air gun is far more compact and lighter than some of the others on our list. In fact, if you need to weld harder plastics in a more confined space, either the Weldy or the following product, the Gizmo, will likely be more convenient.
Unfortunately, the Weldy loses out on some of its prepackaged versatility by only providing two attachments — a speed and round nozzle. This leaves flat attachments — regardless the welding technique — up to you to purchase separately. Thankfully, the Weldy is not as limited by material as some of the other products on our list.
6. Gizmo Supply 1500w: Good Cheap Plastic Welding Gun
While the Gizmo and the Weldy may look similar, they are functionally incredibly different in regards to their appropriate use. For instance, the Weldy actually has a well-controlled temperature output — even if the absence of a digital temperature control gauge can actually make it difficult to know what the true temperature is.
With the Gizmo, this problem is magnified by the fact that this plastic welder gets incredibly hot. In fact, it is far easier to burn your plastic with the Gizmo than the Weldy. However, as noted prior, the Weldy actually has difficulty reaching maximum temperature and takes much longer to get hot.
While the poor temperature control makes this a bit unwieldy of a plastic welder, those who stick with it and learn its idiosyncrasies are likely to appreciate that it can get hot enough to melt the hardest of plastics and does so quickly. This is actually a bit odd considering the Weldy features a more powerful heating element — though the difference is only 100 degrees.
Regardless, because of its high heat and strong airflow, the Gizmo is much better suited for speed welding than it is tack or pendulum welding. It seems the Gizmo brand was aware of this considering they provided two different types of speed welding attachments and no others.
Still, one of the main areas where the Gizmo fails the “smell” test is in regards to durability. It should come as a warning sign to any hot air gun user when the product provides a free replacement motor with purchase. As such, it should come as no surprise that the motor wears out fairly quickly and will no longer provide the hot temperatures desired.
7. Master Appliance ProHeat Series: Versatile Plastic Welding Kit
Much like the Steinel, the Master Appliance is one of the few products on our list to provide an entire kit. However, unlike the Steinel, this product is significantly more expensive — in fact, the Master Appliance heat gun is the most expensive product we reviewed. Still, the addition of the most commonly used attachments is a nice touch.
As such, you would expect the Master Appliance to also be the best performing heat gun. Unfortunately, this product does not perform functionally much better than the Steinel. That is not to suggest that this is a poor quality hot air gun. In fact, compared to the previous two entries, the Master Appliance is significant improvement.
However, when compared to the Steinel, you are getting more or less the same product — except the Master Appliance is actually less powerful than the Steinel. However, unlike the other hot air guns on our list, the difference between the Master Appliance and every other hot air gun is a difference of 200 watts, not 100. While this still is not a massive difference, the issues of heating times seen is even worse for the Master Appliance.
One major issue when comparing the Master Appliance with the Steinel is airflow. The Steinel provided you three different airflow settings that you could change on the gun directly. While this made using the gun more complicated and required greater knowledge, it also offered more versatility. Unfortunately, to get that same use out of the Master Appliance, you will need to purchase an air flow regulator separately and attach it to your air compressor.
8. Portasol Plastic Welding Kit: Cordless and Compact
The Portasol is a unique product on our list primarily because it is the only plastic welder reviewed that does not use electricity to heat the plastic to be welded. This is a bit novel of a design that has some disadvantages, but it is meets and incredibly specific niche need that cannot be ignored.
First, the fact that this plastic welder uses a butane flame to heat the plastic provides it use in an ironically specific scenario: with plumbing or water seals. Plastic welding in these situations can be maddening, because the melted plastic is liable to absorb water moisture which weakens the bond and necessitates more frequent maintenance welds.
By using butane flame to heat the contact point, the plastic is melted to just hot enough to form a bond and cools quickly. The absence of hot air prevents the cooling process from going even half a second slower.
However, the butane must be refilled, and the tank is not that large. This means you are liable to have to refill the Portasol numerous times for a single job if it is sufficiently large. Moreover, the tank itself is a bit difficult to fill and does not even fill up all the way, making this process more inconvenient than it already is. If that were not bad enough, the open flame design will also require that you clean the Portasol much better and more often than with traditional electric contact plastic welders.
Still, the butane does allow this welder to be cordless and smaller in profile which makes it great for use in small crevices and in locations without electricity. Unfortunately, this product only features a single attachment, so your welding techniques are limited.
How to Choose the Best Plastic Welder – Buyer’s Guide
With metal welding there is generally two types of heating: focus flame and heated tip — though electric current is also popular. For plastic welding, on the other hand, one of those methods is altogether impossible, while the other requires both a more refined tool and more skilled practitioner.
Plastic welders generally come in three different forms. The first form, contact welding, is similar to soldering irons whereby a metal tip is heated and applied to the plastic. Once the heated tip comes in contact with the plastic, the plastic begins to melt and is able to form the desired joint.
The other method of plastic welding is somewhat similar to traditional metal welding except it does not use a focused flame. Instead, these types of plastic welders use super heated air to melt the plastic. The air never catches fire, but it does get hot enough to burn like fire.
The final form of plastic welders involves the use of ultrasonic or high-frequency waves to generate heat. However, this type of plastic welding is only intended for exceedingly large, for ultrasonic, or fine, for high frequency, projects.
For consumers and local or limited professionals, the two types of plastic welders most likely to be used are hot air and contact. These plastic welders are less expensive and much smaller than ultrasonics and does not require a powerful generator like high-frequency welders.
However, contact welders are often limited in the scale and scope of projects they can competently perform. Because the contact tip requires conductive heat and is more limited in terms of size, contact welders are more often used for smaller projects.
Conversely, hot air guns may provide the freedom to work on larger products, but they also require the use of an air compressor. While this inherently adds the cost of more equipment onto the project, the air compressor for a hot air gun often needs to be of a better quality than many other pneumatic tools — increasing the initial investment even more.
Another potential issue with hot air guns is the oxidization of the plastic being welded. When the plastic weld oxidizes, this can make the bond weaker and less internally stable. A solution to this is to use compressed, non-reactive gases — like argon. However, this will once again increase the investment costs of using a hot air gun.
There are three primary techniques for welding plastic: tack, pendulum, and speed. However, it is important to note that these different types of welding techniques are not simply determined by the movements and the application of the equipment. In fact, each technique requires a slightly different attachment.
However, the different techniques of plastic welding have themselves spawned a multitude of attachments to assist in their use. Moreover, each technique can actually utilize different attachments with slight differences in their design.
Keep in mind, the types of attachments used will also differ depending on the type of plastic welder used. In fact, heat guns offer a far wider number of attachments and are indicated for use with more techniques than contact welders — the latter of which uses an entirely different form of attachment, one that actually alters the contact point as opposed to a superficial component placed over top.
While power is often a primary factor when determining how effective tool functions for a majority of pieces of equipment, it can be a bit superfluous for plastic welding. That is not to suggest that power is altogether unimportant to plastic welding, but without the right features, it may simply make the job more difficult than it is worth.
Specifically, one of the biggest challenges to welding plastic is ensuring the temperature remains within a narrow range to melt the plastic without burning it. Burned plastic is brittle, and the seal it creates is deceptively weak. We say “deceptively,” because a burned plastic seal may otherwise look similar to a proper plastic seal. However, if any real stress is placed on the seal, you will quickly realize that it is not strong enough.
In terms of power, plastic welders are often rated in watts. Generally, the more watts to a plastic welder, the hotter it can get, though without a temperature or air pressure regulator — which is often sold separately — this heat can become counter-productive.
For hot air guns, this process can be even more challenging, because the amount of airflow used will inherently alter the temperature of the air. Thankfully, this does follow a somewhat simple principle of the more air, the cooler the air. Unfortunately, few hot air guns are truly effective at accounting for how the airflow actually changes the temperature.
So, what’s the best plastic welder on the market?
As we can see, not every type of plastic welder will be right all consumers. If you are a professional or expect to weld plastic for professional grade projects, you will require an entirely different plastic welder than a hobbyist or a consumer looking to make minor repairs.
For the professional, we recommend either the Steinel or the Master Appliance. These products feature a powerful heating element that also comes equipped with numerous temperature control gauges. Moreover, the wealth of included attachments allows you to make any kind of plastic weld.
For hobbyists or consumers, the Polyvance or Bondic are probably more your speed. If you need to make legitimate plastic welds, the Polyvance provides an effective contact plastic weld. On the other hand, if only small repairs are, the Bondic is an easy and inexpensive means of doing so.