In thermal staking, also referred to as 'heat staking, heading or riveting,' the controlled flow of the molten plastic is used to capture or retain another component, joining plastic to plastic or metal or another type of material (e.g., printed circuit board).
In thermal insertion a metal insert is placed in a cored or drilled hole, which is slightly smaller than the insert. This hole provides a certain degree of interference and also serves to guide the insert into place. The heat from the thermal tip travels through the insert to the interface of the metal and plastic. Heat generated by the thermal tip causes the plastic to melt, and as the thermal tip advances, the insert is imbedded into the component. The molten plastic flows into the serrations, flutes, or undercuts of the insert, and when the heat source retracts, the plastic resolidifies and the insert is securely encapsulated in place. Inserts that can be installed by thermal insertion include a variety of bushings, terminals, ferrules, hubs, pivots, retainers, feed-through fittings, fasteners, hinge plates, binding posts, handle-locating pins and decorative attachments.