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Author Topic: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?  (Read 2204 times)

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Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #25 on: July 17, 2017, 05:33:39 PM »
Hey guys, thank you for all the responses so far. I was considering the Samsung SM320 but one thing worries me - I have been googling for an hour and I can't seem to find an official website that even acknowledges the SM320 exists. Samsung doesn't seem to have an SMT equipment website - seems they've sold it? So I looked at Dynatech but apparently that website is now defunct. That brings me to Hanwha Precision Machinery which appears to be the successor. Hanwha appears to have a single service center for the US, located in California, the opposite side of the country.

Assembleon (Now under K&S it appears) has a service center in Alpharetta, GA, which is literally a 30 minute drive. From some threads on SMTnet it looks like they do training there, as well as support and service. If that is indeed still the case this seems like a no brainer. From my experience in the CNC world support is very important, and it would certainly ease my mind if I knew support was available locally.

Having said that, I have no idea how much I might expect to pay for training or support. If training is $5k and teaches me how to use the machine comprehensively that is not so bad, but if it's $50k... Still the only thing worse than expensive support is no support.

Regardless of other differences in the technical capabilities of the machines, would I be making a mistake choosing a machine without local support?

I'm going to call the local K&S office and see if I can schedule a visit to talk through some of these issues with them.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 05:37:39 PM by SVFeingold »
 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #26 on: July 17, 2017, 06:12:52 PM »
Mike, it appears at a glance that Yamaha used to manufacture the GEM series Assembleon machines and so there should be Yamaha feeders that are compatible. A cursory eBay search for feeders seems to support this. Another plus in the Assembleon column it would seem...
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #27 on: July 17, 2017, 06:36:48 PM »
I've always found it pretty hard to find good info on used pick/place machines. The problem it's a very niche area, and some machines have origins  from before the internet was much of a thing. It's traditionally been a high cost, high margin value, so people buying new machines would be dealt with by manufacturers' sales people.
There are some dealers in used equipment, but there still seems to be a culture of keeping information to themselves - why should they publish service info when they can sell you parts for a fortune or sign you up for an expensive service contract?
The people who use most of these, subcontract assemblers also IME seem to have a culture of not sharing what they regard as their own little tips, secrets etc. They don't seem to be the sort of people who'd do things like setting up a forum to co-operate with each other to support machines.
This is the only forum I'm aware of with discussion on the bigger machines : http://www.smtnet.com/Forums/
 
If you look at the few accounts of people who've bought old machines to get them working, they've pretty much had to figure everything out themselves.
I don't think there's an easy answer, other than for people who are going through this process to share what they've learnt to make it slightly easier for the next guy. You need to do a lot of research, but that research can be pretty hard - you probably need to actually start calling people and going to see machines in action where you can.
Meanwhile the Chinese are doing their own thing, and if they ever figure out that they need to hire a few western staff to show them what they are doing wrong ( and then actually take notice of what they say), they could have a much bigger impact on the market. The prices that most low-mid volume assembly places charge are based on amortising equipment that cost six figures, with high ongoing maintainance costs. Once you can buy a fast, reliable and easy to use machine for $5K, the economics of either doing in-house or a company setting up with a few dozen of them to undercut the old guard change radically.



 
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #28 on: July 17, 2017, 06:38:30 PM »
Re. ESD, I never said it wasn't a problem, just that the precautions you need to spend money on to deal with it can be substantially different depending on the nature of the environment and skill level of the opperators.
 
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2017, 07:09:48 AM »
The Philips "gem" series all need 3-phase power.  The earlier machines like the CSM can run on single phase.  So, make sure you have the required power.  (I see you mention that farther down.)  You ought to be able to find a place where an air compressor can be placed (on the roof, behind building, etc.

$38K seems pretty high, a lot of machines are going for less.  Some of the Gem line are for super fast assembly, with 8 to 20 nozzles on them.  Do you need this level of production?

Philips Assembleon is out of this business, as far as I know, so spare parts could be a problem.  There does seem to be a pretty active grey market in spares, but I don't know the quality.

My CSM84 is limited to 6.5mm component height.  That actually is not that huge a problem, but yes, some larger electrolytic caps could be too tall.

As for software, my CSM has amazing levels of fault recovery, you can even POWER DOWN in the middle of the board, and it will pick up and finish the board when you come back up!
(I've had to do that on a couple occasions when things went really badly during a run.)  Figuring out what feeders you need and how much that will cost is important, they can really ADD UP!

Jon
 
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Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #30 on: July 18, 2017, 07:12:47 AM »
OK, know that there is a lot of learning to be done before everything works well.  Also, stencil design is really important to getting good reflow results.  The smaller the pad/lead and the lead pitch, the more the aperture area needs to be reduced so you don't get solder bridges.  Don't ASK how I know all about this!

Jon

 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2017, 07:43:25 AM »
The Philips "gem" series all need 3-phase power.  The earlier machines like the CSM can run on single phase.  So, make sure you have the required power. 
Any decent sized reflow oven is going to need 3-phase
Quote
As for software, my CSM has amazing levels of fault recovery, you can even POWER DOWN in the middle of the board, and it will pick up and finish the board when you come back up!
Try that with Chinese software  :-DD :-DD :-DD
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Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2017, 07:45:05 AM »

Having said that, I have no idea how much I might expect to pay for training or support. If training is $5k and teaches me how to use the machine comprehensively that is not so bad,
If training a skilled person how to use a P&P line costs $5k, either someone is taking the piss or the software is terrible.

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Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #33 on: July 18, 2017, 07:49:20 AM »
Quote
On the automation I agree it probably wouldn't take long to load and unload boards, and of course I'm willing to do this for a while. The real issue is that if the line is running for 8 hours, and I have to walk up and do something every 1-5 minutes, that means I can't really do anything else even if the time required to do it is only seconds. The more hands off the better, if I only need to come change a feeder, load boards, etc... once an hour that's a world of difference is terms of time management and operational mindset. I'll be in the room doing other work, designing boards, programming, etc.. and having to get up every few minutes is a major distraction.

DREAM ON!!!  My experience is I have to babysit the P&P machine all the time it runs.  I can go a few feet away and monitor it by sound, but come running every time the feeders jam.

Now, maybe the newer air-powered feeders are a bit better than the old mechanical feeders that my CSM84 uses for 8 and 12mm tape, so you might do a bit better.  But, the glue tension of the cover tapes is all over the place, I can even figure out the diameter of the roller that applies the glue, as the feeders stick every so many inches when that spot with the heavy glue application rolls around again.  The cover tape won't pull off, and the nozzle tries to pick parts through the cover tape.  An occasional mis-pick on cheap passives is no problem, but my machine is set to halt on 4 mis-picks of the same part.  So, full automation of the system doesn't make any sense.  I have to visually inspect the placed boards for obvious defects anyway.  Generally, if the machine was happy with the build, the only thing I need to look at is fine-pitch parts to make sure they are well-aligned.  So, I don't do more than a fairly cursory inspection of the passives.

So, after each setup for a different board, I have now combined specific component tapes with specific feeders, and have to get everything running reliably.  Sometimes I have to hang C-clamps on the tails of the cover tape or component tape to give them a little more pull, or sometimes I "choke up" on the springs in the feeders to get more tension.  Once I get all that worked through on the first 10 or so boards, things settle down a bit, but I still get mis-picks and other issues.

Oh, and the Philips machines were made by Yamaha, so the feeders (and a lot of other things) are interchangeable between corresponding models.

Jon
 
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Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #34 on: July 18, 2017, 07:52:32 AM »
Thank you jmelson! I do have some experience designing stencils and apertures, I make all of my own part libraries and footprints and I'm very anal about it. I've spent too long researching this topic to make the best footprints and stencil apertures feasible for my work. Knock on wood, I've been stenciling boards by hand down to chip-scale microBGAs and so far everything has worked well. For production I know the game is different but I feel ready for the challenge at the entry level.

I see that Philips Assembleon doesn't exist but apparently the same machines are being sold/serviced under a new name. Am I mistaken on this? There's a difference between "doesn't exist" and "changed ownership." I'm still trying to get in touch with a sales engineer from K&S to confirm this.

There are a few Juki machines I see available, any idea how those compare in terms of parts/software/etc? What about Samsung?

On the feeder front, Yamaha feeders and Assembleon feeders (which from the 2000s era seem to be compatible) are pretty cheap on eBay. I feel like I could get almost 100 feeders for <$10k.

I certainly wouldn't say I need 8 nozzles but if the machine works, the feeders are reliable, and the price is right, why not? My thought is that low speed or hobby-grade machines will turn every timeline into a tight timeline. For example, I have to assemble 5k boards by the end of the year, with ~105 components on each. If an Assembleon could realistically place 10k CPH, that means it needs to run for 7 8-hour shifts. That's a week and a half. On the contrary a 1k CPH machine would require over 2 months! AND that's assuming that the lower grade machine works perfectly that entire time. I'd need to purchase 3-4 Neoden 4s to feel comfortable and I'm very skeptical of that option vs. even a heavily used pro machine. If I have 6 weeks and the Assembleon breaks down for 3 of them, I still come out ahead. So if I have access to the speed I much prefer to take advantage of it. Provided of course that spares are available and don't cost a truly stupid amount of money.

I am also inquiring on SMTNet but I know how very seasoned professionals typically respond to this kind of request. All about ROI, save for the big machines, etc... In my case if I can get the 5k boards done then all of the equipment is bought and paid for, and I'm getting the industrial space + electricity for a song. That means I'll own a working SMT line debt-free as soon as this order is out. Even if it makes $0 thereafter in profit that's a win in my book. Just need to get there!
 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #35 on: July 18, 2017, 07:56:04 AM »
Regarding the power, the space I'm planning to lease has 240 3-phase (high-leg Delta) so that will do fine for most of these machines. There are a few reflow ovens that run on 240. If 480 is really truly necessary I can pick up a transformer for a few thousand. I think a 100-200A 240 circuit will be enough to run all of the equipment.

Regarding the feeders that is very surprising. Is this the case even with the newer Yamaha/Philips feeders? Surely there is a solution to this problem that lies between spending $2k/ea on new smart feeders and getting constant mispicks on old feeders. Which feeders does your machine use?
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #36 on: July 18, 2017, 07:56:24 AM »
Quote
On the automation I agree it probably wouldn't take long to load and unload boards, and of course I'm willing to do this for a while. The real issue is that if the line is running for 8 hours, and I have to walk up and do something every 1-5 minutes, that means I can't really do anything else even if the time required to do it is only seconds. The more hands off the better, if I only need to come change a feeder, load boards, etc... once an hour that's a world of difference is terms of time management and operational mindset. I'll be in the room doing other work, designing boards, programming, etc.. and having to get up every few minutes is a major distraction.

DREAM ON!!!  My experience is I have to babysit the P&P machine all the time it runs.  I can go a few feet away and monitor it by sound, but come running every time the feeders jam.
That's at least in part down to poorly designed software - if a feeder has a problem, it should carry on with the next feeder.
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Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #37 on: July 18, 2017, 07:59:47 AM »

Having said that, I have no idea how much I might expect to pay for training or support. If training is $5k and teaches me how to use the machine comprehensively that is not so bad,
If training a skilled person how to use a P&P line costs $5k, either someone is taking the piss or the software is terrible.

Fair point, but I am trying to brace myself for the cost. At an old job they paid for a couple of us to take 2 Solidworks FEA courses. Each course cost the company $3-5k per employee and the "instructor" was a joke. Didn't even have the foggiest idea about basic engineering concepts. I imagine much industry geared towards large businesses is like this. I hope to be wrong!
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #38 on: July 18, 2017, 08:00:42 AM »
Quote
Assembleon (Now under K&S it appears) has a service center in Alpharetta, GA, which is literally a 30 minute drive. From some threads on SMTnet it looks like they do training there, as well as support and service. If that is indeed still the case this seems like a no brainer. From my experience in the CNC world support is very important, and it would certainly ease my mind if I knew support was available locally.

Watch OUT!  I know nothing, I support my machine all by myself, with a little help from the net.  BUT, I have heard that Assembleon formally disavowed all the earlier Philps/Assembleon machines when they parted ways, and offer no support on the Gem series or anything older.  So, I'd very strongly advise you to check with them that they WILL support any particular machine you might want to buy.  Also, some later machines had software locks that would expire, and you had to regularly buy a new license to keep running the machine.  Also, they might charge a huge fee to re-license a machine to a new owner.  Not sure this applies to Assembelon, but I've heard horror stories about people who bought machines and then NEVER got them running, as the re-license cost more than the used machine.

Just a caveat emptor.

Jon
 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #39 on: July 18, 2017, 08:08:28 AM »
I will definitely not purchase an Assembleon until I speak with K&S face-to-face in their office. It does appear they offer spares on their webshop but as I am new to this I'm not 100% confident they cover these machines.

Speaking of which, can you suggest any reputable used SMT equipment dealers? Or perhaps which ones to stay away from...
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #40 on: July 18, 2017, 08:14:52 AM »
There are a few Juki machines I see available, any idea how those compare in terms of parts/software/etc? What about Samsung?

On the feeder front, Yamaha feeders and Assembleon feeders (which from the 2000s era seem to be compatible) are pretty cheap on eBay. I feel like I could get almost 100 feeders for <$10k.

Quote
I certainly wouldn't say I need 8 nozzles but if the machine works, the feeders are reliable, and the price is right, why not? My thought is that low speed or hobby-grade machines will turn every timeline into a tight timeline. For example, I have to assemble 5k boards by the end of the year, with ~105 components on each. If an Assembleon could realistically place 10k CPH, that means it needs to run for 7 8-hour shifts.
Well, I think one fallacy is that the faster machine scales linearly.  The problem is a feeder jam takes as long to fix whether the machine is 1000 CPH or 10K CPH.  So, a feeder jam causes a much worse impact for a high speed machine.   Also, there is a setup and fixturing time where the machine is passing out the finished board and bringing in the blank one.
It is not assembling during that time.  So, don't assume 105 components at 10K CPH means each board takes .0105 hours or 37.8 seconds.  It is probably quite a bit more than that.
Anyway, every feeder jam will cost you maybe the time to assemble 3-5 boards.

 I have a very slow batch oven (a GE toaster oven from WalMart) so the assembly speed is not usually the limit.  (Don't laugh too hard, I've assembled over 1000 boards with this setup!)
Quote
I am also inquiring on SMTNet but I know how very seasoned professionals typically respond to this kind of request.
There are some VERY helpful people there, who helped me enormously in selecting a good machine (CSM84) for a very wide variety of part types, and in getting going with manufacturing.

Jon
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #41 on: July 18, 2017, 08:18:19 AM »
Quote
Speaking of which, can you suggest any reputable used SMT equipment dealers? Or perhaps which ones to stay away from...

No.  I bought my machine direct from the previous user.  He was motivated by new machines coming in in 2 weeks, and the deal was VERY good, and got better each day!

So, I can't recommend a broker, but definitely watch out, get everything in writing, etc.

Jon

 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #42 on: July 18, 2017, 08:19:39 AM »
Here is their online shop for the Americas region. They do list the Xiii machines which I believe are all of older Philips vintage. So that gives me some hope. Guess we will see once I talk to them!

Regarding SMTnet I agree, they certainly seem to know their stuff. Just takes a bit to get the feel of the place. Lots of advertising seems to be going on. My only goal is to not get discouraged by those who would suggest that if I don't have $500k to spend to not bother at all. My needs are different from most on that forum. Still I will take all the info I can!

Regarding placement speed the Topaz Xii is rated for something like 15k CPH. So even derating by a substantial amount to account for board transfer leaves a fairly high speed. Your point about feeder jams is well taken, and I'm afraid I just won't know for sure how a particular machine runs with particular feeders until it is powered up.  :-\
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #43 on: July 18, 2017, 08:30:37 AM »
Quote
I will definitely not purchase an Assembleon until I speak with K&S face-to-face in their office. It does appear they offer spares on their webshop but as I am new to this I'm not 100% confident they cover these machines.

You CAN run an old machine with various resources from the net and no factory support.  There are a bunch of freelance techs who know the machines really well, and have parts available.  A lot of the parts in these machines are off the shelf air valves, sensors and other sort-of commodity items that can be had through other channels.  But, of course, real factory help would be great, if you can get it.

I have seen Juki machines, they are fairly similar to the Assembleon machines, just  a little different.  Generally, there are 3 files.  One tells what component to put where, one gives the settings for each feeder, and one has the vision info for each part (# leads, search region, etc.)  This stuff is all different in the small details of the files, but the overall concept pretty much has to be the same for all the machines.  Generally, you can enter all this info directly on the machine, but that is a pain.  I wrote a c program to create the first (part on board) file from a list of component vs. feeder info and the placement info from the CAD package.  I edit the feeder file on the machine and then save to PC.  I don't have the vision system on my machine, so I don't have to deal with that.

Jon
 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #44 on: July 18, 2017, 08:39:08 AM »
Oh I definitely feel comfortable maintaining the machine myself, and as you say most parts are standard or easily replaced. What concerns me more are proprietary parts such as nozzles and whatnot. It's unlikely I think that a big piece of metal will "go bad" and most of the other things *SHOULD* be replaceable. Even so, I want to spend as much as reasonable to get a working machine that doesn't need an exorbitant amount of maintenance.

What I'd really like a machine to be able to do is:

  • 0201 components up to "large" chips. Say a 128pin TQFP.
  • 20mm component height
  • Through hole placement for connectors and such, don't really care about axial leaded components which is a whole other process.
  • 5k CPH minimum realistic output
  • Able to feed from cut-tape holders
  • Feeders that don't jam!
  • Vision centering/alignment

I don't think that's toooooo much to ask for a machine, I have seen more than a few used machines that can do this in my price range. So the option is to get a single machine that could do these things for <$50-60k, or 2 machines that together can do this for <$30k each.

 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #45 on: July 18, 2017, 08:40:11 AM »
Also, would you be willing to share your .c file? I have no present use for it but I'd be interested to see how this is handled.
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #46 on: July 18, 2017, 08:40:30 AM »
The Gem Xii  series is at least two generations newer than my CSM machine, which is really old school.  I'm not sure if those were still built by Yamaha.  There was a split at some point.

There are a lot of guys on smtnet that have modest shops with used machines, or are techs supporting shops like that.  You should know, just from the traffic on eBay in these machines, that not all contract assemblers are in gleaming 500,000 square foot shops with 25 P&P machines in rows vanishing toward infinity.  There are a lot of nearly garage shop outfits out there, either OEMs that are doing the in-house thing or actually are small contract assemblers.

There is also the Yahoo group for diy pick&place :

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/PicknPlace

There are several guys with Yamaha / Philps machines, but I think most of them are closer to my vintage than what you are looking at.

Jon

 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #47 on: July 18, 2017, 08:49:01 AM »
Yikes, 0201!!  Those are pretty small.  You'd better check with somebody who is actually DOING those size parts to make sure any particular machine handles them.

20 mm component height?  You realize this means the nozzle stroke must be 40 mm to clear parts already on the board?

Some through hole can be accommodated, but it means you need solder paste or preforms on the other side of the board.  Tricky.  And, of course, the parts have to be made so that a machine can handle them.  Not always available.

My Philips feeder handle cut tape fairly well.  You lose the first 3 parts or so, and have to splice to the cover tape, but it works OK.

Feeders that don't jam?  Well, tell that to the component vendors.  There is nothing wrong with my Philps feeders.  But, the wild variability of component tapes makes this a HARD JOB!!
How about cover tape pull strength that varies from 0 to 200 gm force every 6 inches on the tape?  How about component tapes that are 6 months old, and the cover tape just falls off, spilling all the parts out?  I don't think this is the machine's fault.

Vision is pretty standard these days.

Jon
« Last Edit: July 18, 2017, 08:53:35 AM by jmelson »
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #48 on: July 18, 2017, 08:52:39 AM »
Also, would you be willing to share your .c file? I have no present use for it but I'd be interested to see how this is handled.
It is actually a file on the Yahoo PicknPlace group, but if you can't find it there, I can send it.  It is pretty specific to the Protel CAD/CAM package we use and the Philips placement file format.
But, must systems do things in a fairly similar way.  There's another guy on PicknPlace that extended my program to also make the feeder file.

Jon
 

Offline SVFeingold

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Re: Advice on setting up a low-mid volume SMT line for <$130k?
« Reply #49 on: July 18, 2017, 09:02:31 AM »
I know, it's a lot to ask, but it seems as though 0201s have been reasonably commonplace for a while now. One of the test videos from a vendor on the Topaz Xii shows it placing 0201s seemingly without issue, but of course who knows how much tweaking and fine tuning they did for that video. In any case it certainly seems within the capability of the machine assuming it's in good order. I realize the nozzle height needs to be 2x the max component height but I will be very cross if I end up having to place hundreds of connectors by hand! Pin-in-paste seems like a crapshoot that requires some finesse, but I'd like to at least experiment with it.
 


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