Plastic welders can fix broken garden furniture, toys, kayaks, car bumpers, and a whole host of other items. In many cases, these welders will soon pay for themselves. Unlike glue repairs, which often crack if the plastic flexes, a properly formed weld is strong and permanent.
But while most plastic welders are easy to use, they don’t all do the same jobs. Shoppers can choose from among several types and should consider different levels of performance.
In this article, we explain the key features of each machine. We also provide real-world examples that represent the best plastic welders for a variety of jobs at home and at work.
- BEST OVERALL: Polyvance Mini-Weld Model 7 Airless Plastic Welder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TruePower Plastic Welding Kit With Plastic Rods
- BEST HOME AND LEISURE: JounJip Plastic Welding Repair Kit | 120 Volts
- BEST AUTOMOTIVE: Allturn 100W Hot Stapler Plastic Welding Repair Kit
- BEST AIR GUN: Seekone Heat Gun 1800W Variable Temperature Control
- BEST FOR SMALL REPAIRS: Bondic Pro UV Resin Kit Liquid Plastic Welding Kit
- BEST FOR SEAMS: BeyondLife 1600W Plastic Hot Air Welder Heating Gun
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Plastic Welder
There are dozens of plastic welders on the market, so it’s important to understand their capabilities in order to make the right choice. Much like when looking for the best welders for beginners at metalwork, buyers should know that some tools are more user-friendly than others as beginners learn how to weld plastic, and some are more suited to professional tasks. The key features are as follows.
Type of Welder
Plastic welders fall into four general categories: heat guns, airless (or contact), high-frequency, and friction welders.
A plastic welding gun typically looks a lot like a small hair dryer, though some have tubular shapes. They melt plastic by delivering a stream of hot air. The tools come with various attachments to spread or focus the hot air, so the heat guns are quite versatile. They can be used directly on plastics, or plastic welding rods may be melted into joints or cracks.
Airless plastic welders are similar in design to a soldering iron used for electrical work. A handle with a rod attached delivers heat to a metal tip. Basic models have a single heat setting, though better tools are variable. Plastic welding rods can be used with mesh or foil to create strong repairs.
Ultrasonic and friction welding both work by vibrating plastic components very fast, developing heat that bonds them together. However, both are industrial processes found only in factories and laboratories.
Type of Welding and Tips
There are a number of terms used to describe plastic welding techniques and the tool’s welding tips that might be confusing. So let’s clarify those.
Tack welding is usually considered a small temporary weld to hold two pieces together until the full weld forms. However, in plastic welding, specific tack welding guns can insert a metal staple between the pieces to be repaired, thus providing a strong joint. The area can then be smoothed over to conceal the staple.
Speed welding tips are particularly good when joining two seams together. A plastic welding rod is fed into the tip, right where the heat is focused, and melts into the joint as the user moves the gun along.
Pendulum welding is a process used with heavy-duty plastic welding, when parts require considerable heat buildup to weld them together successfully. The term describes the motion of moving the tip back and forward across the area in a swinging, or pendulum, motion.
All plastic welders have a wattage (W) rating that describes the amount of power generated. This should not be confused with how hot they get. For example, an 80W airless plastic welder and a 200W airless plastic welder might both be capable of reaching 500 degrees Fahrenheit or more. The difference is that the 80W model would take longer to heat up and would work more slowly.
As the tip comes into contact with the plastic to be melted, some of the heat dissipates. The machine then needs to reheat. The higher the wattage, the less noticeable this heat drain will be, and the faster the user can achieve a weld.
Heat guns have a much higher wattage rating than airless welders, typically 1,500W or more. Hot air is a less efficient way to transfer heat, so the guns need to generate more energy to overcome this.
Airflow and Temperature
Airless plastic welders have either a single heat setting or variable settings. The latter allows more control. With heat guns, performance is a combination of the temperature generated and the airflow. Airflow often is given in liters per minute (l/min). An airflow of 1 l/min is roughly equal to a quarter gallon per minute.
If the temperature stays the same but the airflow is raised, then the gun will weld faster. However, that’s not always the aim. For example, heat guns are often used for shrink wrapping electrical cables, and in that case slow heat is better. So a heat gun with variable temperature control and variable airflow will be more versatile than one without these controls.
A plastic welder might come with a variety of accessories as part of the purchase:
- Additional tips: Different tips add versatility to a plastic welder. With airless models, only one or two tips may be supplied, whereas heat guns typically have four or more. These are designed for a variety of tasks, so it’s important to check the function of each.
- Plastic welding rods: These are often general-purpose rods, but the range of materials that are called “plastic” is vast, so it might be necessary to have specific rods for welding a particular material. If the exact material is not known, then where practical, it is advisable to weld a test piece. Staples usually come with tack welding machines.
- Mesh or tape: Airless plastic welders often come with mesh or tape to reinforce repairs as well as sandpaper to roughen surfaces for a stronger bond. Each of these (and the welding rods previously mentioned) are consumables, so it’s worth checking the quantity provided and where to purchase further supplies if they run out.
Our Top Picks
Now that we’ve covered the key elements to consider when choosing these tools, it’s time to look at some examples. Each has been assigned a category so shoppers can quickly identify the best plastic welders for different tasks.
The Polyvance Mini-Weld Model 7 takes top spot in our plastic welder review thanks to its high performance, flexibility, comprehensive content, and useful storage case.
The 200W ceramic element is more reliable than metal alternatives and delivers the consistent heat necessary for high-melting-point materials. A straightforward dial controls variable temperature. The dial doesn’t show temperatures but rather the type of plastic being welded instead. While this assumes some product knowledge, a link to instructional videos is also provided for beginners. We know that the Polyvance can weld nylon, which requires temperatures in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Polyvalence Mini-Weld Model 7 comes with one general-purpose tip, one speed-welding tip, reinforcing mesh, and a wire brush. There are eight welding rods, but each is for a different type of plastic (polypropylene, ABS, nylon, polycarbonate, etc.). While this adds to the model’s vertasility, it does mean that each rod will be used fairly quickly. However, the set also includes a pack of FiberFlex, a unique hot-melt adhesive that adheres to any plastic substrate.
- Type: Airless
- Power: 200W
- Temperature: 500-plus degrees Fahrenheit
- Powerful and durable ceramic element
- Temperature controller
- 2 interchangeable tips plus consumables
- Premium price
- Welding rods are all different
Get the Polyvance plastic welder on Amazon.
The TruePower kit comes with everything required to start plastic welding at a price that brings it within just about any budget. Though power is limited to 80W, it can still produce sufficient heat for a wide variety of plastic repairs. However, progress will be slow on some materials and on thicker items.
The welder design is basic with no temperature control, yet it warms up quickly. A single general-purpose tip with a fairly common fit comes with the welder. Users can purchase others, such as a speed tip, separately. Also included is a cleaning brush, a small amount of mesh, and a pack of welding rods. These are intended for use with common thermoplastics such as polypropylene, polyester, ABS, and nylon.
- Type: Airless
- Power: 80W
- Temperature: 525 degrees Fahrenheit
- Lightweight and easy to operate
- Useful starter set of accessories
- Very affordable
Get the TruePower plastic welder on Amazon.
The JounJip plastic welding repair kit is basically an upgrade to the budget model offered by TruePower. The welder is the same low-cost but reliable 80W unit, but the kit comes with a larger and more versatile set of accessories.
This kit includes two tips, but it’s a little disappointing to find they are both the same. A speed tip would have been a nice alternative. However, tips wear out eventually, so having two provides for long-term use. There are 20 welding rods suitable for plastic bins and buckets, furniture, kayaks, toys, and vehicles. In addition to including the usual reinforcing mesh, the kit also has five aluminum repair tapes that can add tremendous strength, particularly for automotive repairs.
The JounJip plastic welder is also UL listed, so it meets independent safety standards recognized in the U.S. and Canada.
- Type: Airless
- Power: 80W
- Temperature: 525 degrees Fahrenheit
- Extensive accessory kit and spare tip
- UL listed
- Great value
- Can be slow
- Both tips are the same
Get the JounJip plastic welder on Amazon.
The Allturn Hot Stapler can be used as a standard airless plastic welder, melting rods into splits or cracks to form a repair. However, it also can heat metal staples that are then embedded into the plastic components, holding them together with tremendous strength. Plastic can then be smoothed over the top to conceal the staple and provide a neat finish.
This is an ideal solution for cracked bumpers, lighting surrounds, and dashboards, and can also be used for motorcycle fairings and luggage, lawn mower decks, etc. The 100W gun is well-balanced and heats up quickly. An LED work light built into the front helps users see their work in dark areas, and overload protection prevents overheating.
The Allturn Hot Stapler plastic welder comes in a useful case with a utility knife, snips, 400 assorted staples, and two plastic welding rods. It meets the European CE standard for safety.
- Type: Airless tack welder
- Power: 100W
- Temperature: Not provided
- Metal staples provide extra joint strength
- Comprehensive accessory kit
- Built-in overheating protection
- Only 2 welding rods included
- Limited versatility
Get the Allturn plastic welder on Amazon.
The Seekone heat gun is extremely popular; it’s powerful, versatile, and very inexpensive. Two power modes can deliver airflow of 190 to 210 l/min or 250 to 500 l/min, and temperature is variable, from as low as 122 degrees Fahrenheit up to 1,202 degrees Fahrenheit.
Particularly good at heating large parts quickly, and with four included nozzles, the Seekone heat gun also can be used for shrink-wrapping cables, soldering copper pipes, bending PVC, and stripping paint. Overload protection protects the heat gun and provides operator safety. A useful wire stand allows the gun to sit upright, preventing damage to desk or bench while it cools.
At 5¼ feet, the power cord is a little short, and the welder does not come with a case. Plus, it is difficult to focus on small areas with heat guns or to achieve the kind of smooth finish that airless plastic welders can provide.
- Type: Heat gun
- Power: 1,800W
- Temperature: 1,202 degrees Fahrenheit
- Can heat large areas quickly
- 2 power modes
- Not for small repairs
- No case
Get the Seekone plastic welder on Amazon or Seekone.
The Bondic Pro uses a unique approach to repairing plastic, which strictly speaking isn’t welding. It doesn’t use heat but relies on an LED UV light instead. However, this method still can provide effective repairs with unrivaled accuracy.
The fine tip of the Bondic Pro can apply a precise amount of liquid plastic to a crack or break. The UV light then hardens the plastic. When dry, which takes just a matter of seconds, it is nontoxic, heat-resistant, and waterproof. Users can then sand and paint the repair if necessary. In addition to various plastics, the Bondic Pro can repair wood, metal, rubber, ceramics, and fabrics.
The Bondic Pro system is more effective than most glues, but it does not fully bond plastics in the same way as welding, so repairs don’t have quite the same strength. The tool comes with two tubes of adhesive in a neat metal case.
- Type: UV resin
- Power: N/A
- Temperature: 302 degrees Fahrenheit
- Very easy to use
- Works with multiple materials
- Low cost
- Not a true weld
- Small repairs only
Get the Bondic plastic welder on Amazon.
The BeyondLife heat gun is an easy-to-use tool that provides good versatility thanks to its five nozzles. In particular, the tool includes two speed nozzles: one for triangular welding rods and one for round. This makes it ideal for welding plastic seams on tarpaulins, truck curtains, and vinyl pool linings. The welder also has the power for heavy-duty repairs if necessary.
Airflow can vary, up to 230 l/min, via a collar that has useful suggestions for different material settings. Temperature control is on the back of the unit, though the 1 through 8 positions are a bit hit and miss until users get accustomed to performance. The kit also contains a silicone roller that can help make smooth repairs if necessary. The kit includes welding rods for polyethylene and PVC, though only one of each, and has no case.
- Type: Heat gun
- Power: 1,600W
- Temperature: 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit
- 5 nozzles for versatility
- Variable temperature and airflow
- Silicon finishing roller
- Heat control is unclear
- Quite expensive
Get the BeyondLife plastic welder on Amazon.
The Polyvance plastic welder is a high-quality, versatile device, and thanks to its powerful 200W output, it can cope with large repairs. However, the price will put it beyond many DIY users. The TruePower plastic welder is inexpensive enough that just one or two jobs will likely repay the investment, though the extra accessories that come with the JounJip plastic welder make it perhaps an even better value.
How We Chose the Best Plastic Welders
Although the author is quite an experienced metal welder, he has always glued plastics rather than weld them. For this reason, this was an interesting area for him to look into. Our research uncovered that although some tools are very versatile, there is no one best plastic welder for every single job.
Our aim was to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject and find solutions for just about every kind of plastic welding task, which meant we needed to find a variety of tools. We looked at plastic welders and plastic welding kits from all the leading manufacturers in this market, taking into account the machine’s capabilities, accessories provided, and of course the cost.
The result is a collection that can solve nearly any plastic welding challenge and offers something for all budgets.
The article above covers a lot of useful information, and we hope it has provided shoppers with a good understanding of the key considerations when choosing a plastic welder. During our research we found a few questions that cropped up regularly that may not have been explained above, and those are answered here.
Q. Is there such a thing as a plastic welder?
Yes. There are a number of different plastic welders used for repairing everything from inflatable pools to plastic buckets as well as furniture to auto bumpers. Some of the best are included above.
Q. What type of welding is used for plastic?
There are several types of welding used for plastic, though each heats the pieces to join them in some way. The article above looks at the common methods in more detail.
Q. How well do plastic welders work?
Providing users choose the right model, plastic welders work very well. Much like the best MIG welders for metal, the welded plastic can be every bit as strong as the material around it.
Q. What is the best plastic welding machine?
The best plastic welding machine depends on the kind of work the user wants to do. Our top pick, the Polyvance plastic welder, is versatile, but it’s worth exploring the pros and cons of each model listed for users to choose the one that’s best for their needs.