Author Topic: NeoDen 4 support questions  (Read 2130 times)

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Offline calexanian

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NeoDen 4 support questions
« on: June 16, 2018, 03:48:24 am »
Looking at purchasing a NeoDen 4 for our shop for short runs. Otherwise we rent time on another line. We typically get slower service because we typically only order 100 boards at a time. A small machine like this would more than likely be suitable for our needs, and for larger orders we could go back to our outside house.

My only real concern is the apparent complete lack of advertised service in the US from NeoDen. This has the feeling of legal or patent issues keeping them from pushing the US market.

Can anybody help me with either personal experience with their products and support or have a genuine reason why they do not have a US presence.  I see some very similar machines from other US providers and I am wondering if its distributed under a different name here at a higher markup or something like that.

Thoughts? Or if you have a small SMT line for sale in California, let me know  8)
Charles Alexanian
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Offline ascarrul

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2018, 12:15:31 am »
Support is actually pretty good. Everytime time i have had issues, the respond. I have had 4 feeders go out in the past year and have gotten replacements within 4 days from them.

The machine itself is not too bad. The real issue is the feeders. They get jammed, dont feed, parts fall out of them etc. If you buy one expect to have 1 person babysitting it while it does its thing. Also if you are doing lots of 0603 or smaller go with a better machine.

 

Offline calexanian

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2018, 08:02:09 am »
Thanks. There is little actual operational experience info on them. The smallest parts we design with are 0805 and SOT-23 transistors. We will start out with a manual stencil and patch reflow oven so somebody will be present operating the machine (Most likely myself initially) and to visually inspect before reflowing. Our boards are not very dense or complex so its easy to spot problems. We do low volume. Normal usage for us will be a batch of say 100 boards every week so we would only be running the machine for say an hour or two a day at absolute most.
Charles Alexanian
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Offline tboicey

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 12:35:58 pm »
I purchased the Neoden 3V advanced about a month ago and support has been good. I've had a few simple email questions and they were replied to quickly. I haven't needed any additional parts or repairs yet though.

I've already ran a few hundred boards, mostly 0805s, SOICs and SOT-23. The feeders have actually been pretty reliable, but the 3V feeders are different than the 4.

The machine doesn't need babysitting, but I'm usually in the room either stencilling or feeding the oven so I don't expect it to make 200 boards by itself while I sleep or anything.
 

Offline charliex

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 02:35:02 pm »
i have the neoden4 , before that the tm220 and just today the t5(desktop) oven arrived, done about  320 boards on the n4 since we got it.

i had one small issue with the n4 which was the back of a  connector got broken in ship or install , and they sent me two replacement parts, one spare. bryan who does tech support and haimi have been great, they're patient with the language barrier too/

there are some software fixes i'd like to see ,mostly cosmetic though
 

Offline NeoDen-Haimi

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2018, 02:42:32 pm »
Thanks Charlie for your kindly support.
And glad to know you are still satisfied with your second pnp machine from us.
If need any support,pls write us directly.

Thanks and best regards
Haimi

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Online luiHS

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2018, 03:26:33 pm »
 
My experience with Neoden's after-sales service is also good.

They sent me at no cost, by DHL, two new trays for components, also a narrower custom metal piece to place the trays. Then, they sent me, also at no cost and by DHL, a piece for the feeder by vibration.

And recently, I detected a fault in one of the cameras and they sent me, again at no cost and by DHL, the computer's motherboard, two cameras and cables.

The product is good in general, although I think they should improve some things, such as replacing the motherboard with VGA output, for one with HDMI output, replace Windows XP in Chinese for a Windows 7 in English, and allow the machine to install electrolytic capacitors that have a height greater than 5mm (something else with customized nozzles), I have some 2200uF capacitors with a height of 10mm that I would like to install, although I have not yet been able to test with the custom nozzles they made for me, which are shorter, and maybe I can install these capacitors.

Really the only limitation, which in practice, should improve, is the maximum height of the component, which officially can not exceed 5mm, I do not understand why this limitation, something that prevents installing high components, for example many electrolytic capacitors.

An interesting improvement would be to connect to the machine via Ethernet to control it from another PC, to avoid having duplicate, mouse, keyboard and monitor. With Windows remote desktop options, it could be done perfectly if we have access via Ethernet, although for that it would be better if the machine installed Windows 7 or 10.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 03:34:17 pm by luiHS »
 

Online SMTech

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2018, 11:02:49 pm »

Really the only limitation, which in practice, should improve, is the maximum height of the component, which officially can not exceed 5mm, I do not understand why this limitation, something that prevents installing high components, for example many electrolytic capacitors.

Take a look at older/more expensive machines and you will see this is not uncommon. When you increase the height of the component you increase the need to have collision avoidance routines in the software (so the part being carried doesn't hit one on the board), they are heavier so might need better vacuum to stay on the nozzle or different speed/acceleration settings. To add to complications taller parts mean deep tape pocket which might mean a new feeder design. I'm not familiar with Neodens choice of feeder to make/copy but taller surface mount components are fairly recent and through hole electrolytics were the norm even on heavily surface mounted designs. Even today some flexible machines have dedicated feeders for taller parts as the geometry changes, a deeper tape can't bend around the same radius.

Essemtec CLM feeders for example max out at 6.3mm tape pockets which is about a 6mm component  - just squeezing in the things like Case E tantalums & most of the common electrolytic case sizes, out of luck if you went and picked a Wurth one @7mm or a D8 tho...
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2018, 09:22:47 am »
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2018, 04:50:53 pm »
whoops! drop the www

http://neodenusa.com

Neoden 4 US manual here - http://bit.ly/neoden4usman
N4 "details" link on main page is broken
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2018, 05:03:32 pm »
Excellent job on the manual.

Quote
f the camera detects the absence of a component, the machine will make up to two additional attempts to pick a component before asking the user for further instructions. 

This seems to be one of the big design weaknesses of the software of all the Chinese machines - in the case of a feeder error, it should be able to carry on with the next feeder until it's done all it can before asking the user for help. Unfortunately Chinese machines seem to be aimed at users with cheap labour rather than trying to minimise user effort.
Quote
“Chinese” changes  the  system  language  to  Chinese.   DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON
:-DD

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Online SMTech

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2018, 01:30:43 am »
Excellent job on the manual.

Quote
f the camera detects the absence of a component, the machine will make up to two additional attempts to pick a component before asking the user for further instructions. 

This seems to be one of the big design weaknesses of the software of all the Chinese machines - in the case of a feeder error, it should be able to carry on with the next feeder until it's done all it can before asking the user for help. Unfortunately Chinese machines seem to be aimed at users with cheap labour rather than trying to minimise user effort.
Quote

“Chinese” changes  the  system  language  to  Chinese.   DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON
:-DD

On Essemtec machines you get the choice of either mode, and to set the number of retries at global production and component level, you can also set rules e.g Don't place C1 if C15 is not fitted, you don't want to the machine to carry on willy-nilly if the parts it places then obscure the location that has a feeder error. Equally machines should be able to recognize critical errors like the device falling off the nozzle- that component could be anywhere from on the board in the middle of an IC location (crunch) to sitting on the fixed camera glass screwing up the vision results for all attempts thereafter.
Are these little machines really actually designed for the Chinese market? Or are they cannily aimed right at the western innovator in garage who wants a new toy?
 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2018, 01:36:56 am »
Excellent job on the manual.

Quote
f the camera detects the absence of a component, the machine will make up to two additional attempts to pick a component before asking the user for further instructions. 

This seems to be one of the big design weaknesses of the software of all the Chinese machines - in the case of a feeder error, it should be able to carry on with the next feeder until it's done all it can before asking the user for help. Unfortunately Chinese machines seem to be aimed at users with cheap labour rather than trying to minimise user effort.
Quote

“Chinese” changes  the  system  language  to  Chinese.   DO NOT PRESS THIS BUTTON
:-DD

On Essemtec machines you get the choice of either mode, and to set the number of retries at global production and component level, you can also set rules e.g Don't place C1 if C15 is not fitted, you don't want to the machine to carry on willy-nilly if the parts it places then obscure the location that has a feeder error. Equally machines should be able to recognize critical errors like the device falling off the nozzle- that component could be anywhere from on the board in the middle of an IC location (crunch) to sitting on the fixed camera glass screwing up the vision results for all attempts thereafter.
Yes, it should be an option, but should default to " do as much as possible". My machine alwasys does this with no option to disable and I've never found it to be a problem, though I can see theer could be issues with tall parts
Quote
Are these little machines really actually designed for the Chinese market? Or are they cannily aimed right at the western innovator in garage who wants a new toy?
All the Chinese machines are clearly aimed at China - things like the code to unlock English is one clue, as well as mainly selling via Aliexpress rather than their own sales site.
And if they were really serious about export markets, they'd have paid someone a few hundred bucks for native-English scripting to to avoid this hilariously terrible promo video. I know it's old but bears repeating for the entertainment of those who've not seen it yet.

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Offline PeterSwann

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2018, 01:31:38 am »
Glad you like the manual!

I'm Gil's partner in NeodenUSA.  I got into this because I bought a Neoden 4 for my pro audio business, and I was so impressed with the product and the people behind it that I thought more people in the US should be exposed to it.  I've been to the factory, and I can tell you that the people at Neoden treat this as a passion, not just a job - they are doing really high quality engineering, machining and assembly in-house and they're dead serious about quality control (actually ISO 9001 certified in pick-and-place quality control). 

These machines are inexpensive, but they're real workhorses.  They make all the boards for the whole company using a single Neoden 4 and a T5L oven, cranking them out all day long.  So for those of us who just need a few boards at a time or shops running boards constantly, this little machine is a totally scalable solution.

A few points about recent discussions:

Sure, these machines are Chinese - the people who invented them live and work in China.  But you won't find a more dedicated, committed company anywhere in the world.  I've been blown away by their professionalism.  And what they are doing is truly revolutionary -- they are creating machines for a really low cost that can take a company or an inventor from prototyping to full production, completely democratizing manufacturing in the US.  The machine is comfortable in a garage, and suitable for a production facility.  We are making that same philosophy and business ethos local.

The feeders that come with the machines now have been redesigned somewhat, and are I have found them to be very stable (though I had few errors with the old feeders).

The 5mm component height limitation is real.  That does preclude automatic placement of many electrolytic caps, but I use 4.9mm mechanical relays in my products, and it places those (from a tray) without a hitch.  You just have to plan the placement order to avoid collisions.

There was a concern that there is a lack of service in the US, and that there might be patent issues.  To the contrary, Neoden holds over 50 patents on its own designs.  These machines aren't knock-offs -- they embody really inventive approaches to achieving the task with precision at an affordable price.  And while their factory support is already excellent, we are raising that to the next level by offering US-based support.

Interesting points have been made about what to do in case of a pick failure.  As it currently stands, the software offers the user the choice of stopping the job, trying again, or continuing the job without the errant component.  This has worked well for me (and thankfully hasn't come up too often) but if there are suggestions for other approaches, I'm certainly interested.

SMTech asked "Are these little machines really actually designed for the Chinese market? Or are they cannily aimed right at the western innovator in garage who wants a new toy?"  Great question, and I think the answer is both.  They are pretty universal, and designed for a wide range of users (in two languages).  I think it's pretty canny (and pretty cool) that the same machines Chinese manufacturers use are available to people in the USA with an English software interface that really works.  The irony, of course, is that this machine actually enables us to bring manufacturing back to the US, without the need to outsource board assembly to China.

Please feel free to drop us a line with any questions!

--Peter
 

Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2018, 01:32:27 am »
Any news on teh Neoden 5 - ISTR it being announced a while ago then things have gone quiet.
AFICS the N4 isn't far off being a reasonably decent machine, but a few things remain to be improved :
Limited part height
No nozzle change ( 4 heads goes some way to addressing this, but it can't be that hard to do)
Poor feeders with very limited part height ( ISTR seeing <2mm in your manual )
Mediocre software. In particular no graphical view of PCB, and poor handling of feeder errors. 
 
Maybe you should talk to jason at OpenPnp to see if an openPNP port might be a way to address the last point.
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2018, 01:45:43 am »
Glad you like the manual!

I'm Gil's partner in NeodenUSA.  I got into this because I bought a Neoden 4 for my pro audio business, and I was so impressed with the product and the people behind it that I thought more people in the US should be exposed to it.  I've been to the factory, and I can tell you that the people at Neoden treat this as a passion, not just a job - they are doing really high quality engineering, machining and assembly in-house
What about software development? The whole "password to unlock English" nonsense suggests they may be buying it in.
Quote
Sure, these machines are Chinese - the people who invented them live and work in China.  But you won't find a more dedicated, committed company anywhere in the world.  I've been blown away by their professionalism.
Pity this doesn't extend to their video productions,which look great but sound hilarious and make them look like a joke.
Quote
There was a concern that there is a lack of service in the US, and that there might be patent issues.  To the contrary, Neoden holds over 50 patents on its own designs.
Just because they have patents doesn't mean they aren't infringing others, or susceptible to patent trolls.
Quote

Interesting points have been made about what to do in case of a pick failure.  As it currently stands, the software offers the user the choice of stopping the job, trying again, or continuing the job without the errant component.  This has worked well for me (and thankfully hasn't come up too often) but if there are suggestions for other approaches, I'm certainly interested.
That's the first time I've heard that - what exactly do you mean by "continue without the errant component"?
Can you set it up so that it will place everything it can without intervention and once it has placed everything, tell you there are problems, so you can easily see what got missed, fix the feeder issues and place any failed parts ?
This should be the default behaviour - the whole idea of a P&P is you can leave it to get on with the job, not have to go babysit it and deal with any error as it occurs.
Obviously there are cases where you don't want it to continue, like where part heights impose placement-order constraints. Even then it would be useful to be able to tell it to place everything it can except special-case parts before crying for help.

Considring the vast cost difference, I can see that for some users, a number of Chinese machines for less than one machine from an established manufacturer could be an attractive option for increased flexibility and failure tolerance.

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Offline PeterSwann

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2018, 02:10:45 am »
Ask fair questions, get fair answers.

They develop their own software.  I know, because when I've brought issues to their attention, they've provided upgrades in a matter of hours.  There's something about the language setting that is unique to the motherboard, so changing the language requires a unique code.  Weird?  I guess.  But the button isn't begging to be pressed.

Video production?  I think it's an undisputed fact that the video with the computer voice is pretty bad.  Hilariously so, perhaps.  But they are a young company and made some missteps with advertising.  That has nothing to do with the quality of the machines.  They upped their game here:



It's true in the abstract that having patents doesn't disprove infringement. It's also true that being a foreign manufacturer of a product with no equals at its price point doesn't imply infringement.  I'm aware of nothing to suggest any infringement, and people who go to the trouble of getting multiple patents that they actually put to use, who go to the trouble of getting real independent certifications, and who police their own intellectual property are not the type of people who ordinarily rip off designs.

Pick failures:  The software is set up so that it prompts the user at a failure.  Personally, I like this.  Clicking "ignore" tells the machine to soldier on without the missing component.  It would be easy to put in a feature that just blows by these issues without user input and issues a report at the end of the run, but at least for my workflow such a feature wouldn't be that helpful. 

Bottom line: there are plenty of companies making pick and place machines.  But most are either cheap junk, or industrial machines completely outside the means of a vast number of users.  These hit the sweet spot.  They do the job right, they're reliable, and they're affordable.
 
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2018, 02:49:09 am »

Video production?  I think it's an undisputed fact that the video with the computer voice is pretty bad.  Hilariously so, perhaps.  But they are a young company and made some missteps with advertising.  That has nothing to do with the quality of the machines.  They upped their game here:

..which tells you almost nothing about the product, apart from that they have a CNC machine, and they still can't be bothered to get a native-English speaker to proofread the captions, or advise them on what should be in a promotional video aimed at Western customers.
Quote
It's true in the abstract that having patents doesn't disprove infringement. It's also true that being a foreign manufacturer of a product with no equals at its price point doesn't imply infringement.
But it does potentially make them a target for trolling and speculative actions from the big manufacturers with deep pockets if they saw them as a threat.
Quote
Pick failures:  The software is set up so that it prompts the user at a failure.  Personally, I like this.  Clicking "ignore" tells the machine to soldier on without the missing component.  It would be easy to put in a feature that just blows by these issues without user input and issues a report at the end of the run, but at least for my workflow such a feature wouldn't be that helpful. 
I suppose it depends on the reliability of the feeders - on my machine I often have feeder issues, so it would be extremely annoying to not have this feature (which was even standard on the 25-year old DOS-based predecessor to mine!). With reliable feeders it's less of an issue, but still desirable, e.g. for reel changes or tube refills.
Quote

Bottom line: there are plenty of companiese making pick and place machines.  But most are either cheap junk, or industrial machines completely outside the means of a vast number of users.  These hit the sweet spot.  They do the job right, they're reliable, and they're affordable.
Totally agree, though from what I see there is viable competition from some of the other Chinese suppliers.
It is rather frustrating that issues like component-height limitations and lack of tool change limits their range of usefulness for no particularly good reason.

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Offline PeterSwann

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2018, 03:07:44 am »
If you don't like that video, check out ours.  There's a detailed tutorial that tells you about as much as anyone could without actually using it.



As far as getting American input, we are now that input.  I use my real name on this forum because I stand by what I say.  Anyone is free to call me up, and I'll give them the straight story.

Honestly, unless you're corporate counsel, I'm not sure there's much point in debating the risks the manufacturer might face from patent trolls.  Most people here are looking to build PCBs, not underwrite E&O insurance.

In fairness, you have identified some limitations, like part height limit.  But while I would love to have a machine with no limitations that cooks me up an omelette while I watch my products being made, the fact remains that I do have a machine that is the difference between being in business and not being in business.  I humbly submit that that's gold.
 
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Online mikeselectricstuff

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2018, 04:24:18 am »
If you don't like that video, check out ours.  There's a detailed tutorial that tells you about as much as anyone could without actually using it.
My point is that they have yet to understand the effect that videos like that have on how potential customers perceive them.
The stupid thing is that they have clearly spent signifcant money on making the visuals look fabulous, but ruined it by poor attention to language issues
You have the benefit of having seen the factory etc., most potential customers haven't. The hilarious one would need little more than a new soundtrack and editing out the "white monkey job" guy. 
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Offline PeterSwann

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2018, 07:55:20 am »
I get it.  I hope the videos we prepared help bridge that gap.

Having been to the factory, I can tell you there's not much that the Neoden people don't care about.  They are sincere and focused, and their approach to their products and business is one that we in the US would find both familiar and admirable.  It's one of the reasons we got involved: to help Americanize the experience for users of an already great product.  I don't know of any competing machine that has boots on the ground here in the US, so I'm pretty excited about the whole thing.
 
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Offline calexanian

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #21 on: September 13, 2018, 06:00:55 am »
I had discussed the idea of distributing/Repping for them in the US and they were looking for somebody to do that and handle basic service. Due to a shift in our workload we did not follow up but I hope you take it on. All that is missing from the product is state side representation.
Charles Alexanian
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Offline PeterSwann

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #22 on: September 13, 2018, 11:40:07 pm »
We're all-in.  We are happy to help with service, and even have a crew to do installs (though many of the natural customers for a machine like this already have the skills to install and configure the machines themselves). As with any highly-configurable machine, it takes a little time to dial in the configuration that works best for a given project and workflow.   By doing real English documentation and tutorials, I think we can help shorten the learning curve substantially.  But it's a pretty rewarding process, and I'm happy to help - a company I just set up is saving about $1500 a day over contract manufacturing, and that's a pretty good feeling.
 

Online SMTech

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2018, 01:23:31 am »
We're all-in.  We are happy to help with service, and even have a crew to do installs (though many of the natural customers for a machine like this already have the skills to install and configure the machines themselves). As with any highly-configurable machine, it takes a little time to dial in the configuration that works best for a given project and workflow.   By doing real English documentation and tutorials, I think we can help shorten the learning curve substantially.  But it's a pretty rewarding process, and I'm happy to help - a company I just set up is saving about $1500 a day over contract manufacturing, and that's a pretty good feeling.
How much?! Our contracting rate is nowhere near that & with a higher potential throughput than anyone will manage with that thing. Besides if it was that high, you could justify a fully kitted out very nice line from pasting right the way to AOI in under a year.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: NeoDen 4 support questions
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2018, 06:28:40 am »
We're all-in.  We are happy to help with service, and even have a crew to do installs (though many of the natural customers for a machine like this already have the skills to install and configure the machines themselves). As with any highly-configurable machine, it takes a little time to dial in the configuration that works best for a given project and workflow.   By doing real English documentation and tutorials, I think we can help shorten the learning curve substantially.  But it's a pretty rewarding process, and I'm happy to help - a company I just set up is saving about $1500 a day over contract manufacturing, and that's a pretty good feeling.
How much?! Our contracting rate is nowhere near that & with a higher potential throughput than anyone will manage with that thing. Besides if it was that high, you could justify a fully kitted out very nice line from pasting right the way to AOI in under a year.

Yeah, if the savings were $1500 by buying a NeoDen, somethign was  very wrong before.   Id love to see some numbers to support that claim, becuase on face of it, it seems very large to me.    It could be some special case, but seems odd.
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