Author Topic: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting  (Read 10089 times)

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Offline revenue_controls

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SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« on: April 17, 2019, 11:52:44 pm »
Greetings to all,
I am starting on a learning adventure with my soon to be delivered PNP machine. It is a SmallSMT VP-2500HP-CL32. https://www.smallsmt.biz/vp2500hpcl32-pnp-machine/

My goal is to document my experiences (videos and this forum) with the machine; learning, setup, quality of build, usage and maintaining. Additionally I will give you my experiences with the manufacture, sales support,warranty...

I'm not an expert, so don't jump down my throat and nit-pick terms I use and other options I should have taken. This is just the adventure in real time.

It is my hope that this will help the EEVblog community and the manufacture, SmallSMT.

The story so far...
I have been hand assembling surface mount boards for several years and have found that I am tired if it. Also my need to produce greater quantities of boards (200/month). Another big reason is the fact that I just wanted a new toy to play with. I have 5 different designs each with around 50 parts.

Speed and a conveyor system are not important to me, however maximum part height capability, number of feeders and precision is. I did also want to buy from a US based company.  And of course, cost was a factor. I was trying to keep the cost under $15k.

I checked out several companies websites, called some and requested quotations from a few.
neoden, SMTmax and others I cant remember, both US and China.

The neoden4 looked good, cost wise and it has the neat feeder option but I was not happy with the part height spec. The SMTmax machine, which I received a quote for, looks like it is made out of extruded aluminum pieces. Which I know will start to get loose at some point.
 
I first starting looking for a machine around November of 2018 and was drawn to SmallSMT because of the built in feeders, which I thought would be a good way to save the cost of the cartridges. And the large part height spec (20mm or 22mm, I'm not sure witch of their spec sheets is correct)

More to come... Steve
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2019, 12:31:09 am »
   Not to be too discouraging but we've heard lots of promise from Small SMT for many years, but  nobodys of the supposabdly hundreds of people who have bought them have ever come back to do a review of it.  This will be awesome.   We've also learned to be cautious of first time posters, as we never can be sure if they are sockpuppet accounts.. ( sigh, the pcb fabs are the worst! (.

I belive that the SMT machines are manufactured by a chinese company and are rebadged for SmallSMT. Or at least they used to be.  (http://www.yushengtech.com/index.php?lang=en)  If you look on taobao and ali, you can often find them listed, ( at significnatly lower cost than smallSMTs price ).   I did seriously look at SMallSMT a few years ago, but was troubled by their business structure, which set off alarm bells to me.    That may have changed of course.

All that said, really looking forward to hearing from a genuine end user.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2019, 01:47:10 am by mrpackethead »
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Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2019, 01:09:03 am »
Well, glad to see you have a positive attitude.
I received 3 tracking numbers from Germany this morning, so something is coming.
 
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2019, 01:12:23 am »
Is your device shipping from Germany?
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Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2019, 01:27:20 am »
I'm not sure. There is more to the "story so far" I have not told you yet. Stay tuned. I don't want to jump around in the adventure. I will post another episode tomorrow.

 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2019, 01:40:10 am »
I'm not sure. There is more to the "story so far" I have not told you yet. Stay tuned. I don't want to jump around in the adventure. I will post another episode tomorrow.

If you do a search on the tracking numbers, you'll be able to see where it came from.  Did you pay SmallSMT to a chinese / HK bank account or to a european one?
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Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2019, 10:58:53 am »
more back story...
it turns out that the built in feeders (push feeders) have a part height limit of 5.6mm and I was told that they were not as dependable as the cartridge feeders. So I would still need a machine with the cartridge (CL) feeders. I selected the VP-2500HP-CL32, and some CL feeders which pushed me to my budget limit. $2000 of it is shipping!

I had many pre-sales questions about the machine and its capabilities and it took me several emails to Michael (of SmallSMT) to figure out what were the important things I needed to know. I think there was a small language barrier, and a few times I needed to ask a question again to get clarification (also due to my learning curve). I sent Michael my BOM to make sure the machine could do what I wanted. Its should be able to do about 90% of the placement of my parts. Additionally I requested from SmallSMT an existing customer contact that I could talk to and get their thoughts on SmallSMT and their machine. This went well and the customer was happy with the machine and did not have any major problems. I requested a copy of the manual and a software demo download. They gave me a password to their site download area. The manual is ok. There are a lot of configuration settings! I could not get a copy of the software which is very disappointing, I hope its not shit! I believe the software is protected with a hardware key.

I'm not sure of the history/ownership of the SmallSMT company but I think Michael is in Germany and handles technical support questions and may have designed parts of the machine??? Sunny is somewhere in China and it looks like she is involved in generating quotes and maybe production/shipping schedule. They were both very responsive during the pre-sales stage. We will see what the after sales support is like...

After understanding the capabilities of the machine, I was now ready to place the order (now mid February). I requested a new quotation that included the machine, CL feeders and a stand. The quote stated that the machine and feeders would ship from China and the stand would ship from Germany.

They wanted 50% with the order and 50% before shipping. I went to my bank and wired the
full payment (to avoid the additional bank fees). It takes a lot of faith and courage to wire $15K to a company in China! They acknowledged the payment on Feb 21, 2019 and told me the machine went into production an it would ship in 6 weeks...

Stay tuned for more...

« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 11:27:02 pm by revenue_controls »
 

Offline TJ232

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2019, 04:13:54 pm »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:

I am asking because I still have a dream about a small and versatile PNP machine that can fit in the office for small pre-production testing runs.
We have some CHMT36VA and a working OpenPNP for now, but I need to close the gap between them and the Essemtec production line that obviously doesn't fit in the Office :)
 

Offline OwO

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2019, 04:40:40 pm »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:
That is completely normal here, it's done to avoid bureaucracy. However you must confirm the account details in an email with the company's public contact address cc'd, so that a rouge employee can't embezzle the funds (allegedly this has happened before).
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Online SMTech

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2019, 09:25:49 pm »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:

I am asking because I still have a dream about a small and versatile PNP machine that can fit in the office for small pre-production testing runs.
We have some CHMT36VA and a working OpenPNP for now, but I need to close the gap between them and the Essemtec production line that obviously doesn't fit in the Office :)
This would bridge the gap.. (although an ATOZ would be even better)
However as an Essemtec user I wouldn't put them on too high a pedestal, ePlace is nice pretty software and makes for a very straightforwards workflow but they are a niche machine in many ways and some of the advantages machines like this have get eaten away at by the bigger boys as time goes by. 
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2019, 09:53:08 pm »
more back story...
it turns out that the built in feeders (push feeders) have a part height limit of 5.6mm and I was told that they were not as dependable as the cartridge feeders. So I would still need a machine with the cartridge (CL) feeders. I selected the VP-2500HP-CL32, and some CL feeders which pushed me to my budget limit. $2000 of it is shipping!
8mm CL feeders ( clones but good ) should cost you about $USD60-$65.     How much did you pay for them.   I am yet to see a push feeder that is relialbe, and will keep working reel after reel of part.  But its a cheap way to make it.

Quote
Additionally I requested from SmallSMT an existing customer contact that I could talk to and get their thoughts on SmallSMT and their machine.
We've been hoping a bonafide customer does come and do a review.  Just still waiting for one.   The only person i know who had  bought a a Jushengtech machine and dealt with Sunny,    had an absolutely terrible result, the machine was virtually unusable.   That was however in a previous incarnation, ( cna't remmber what Sunny used to call her self then ).   

 This went well and the customer was happy with the machine and did not have any major problems. I requested a copy of the manual and a software demo download. They gave me a password to their site download area. The manual is ok. There are a lot of configuration settings! I could not get a copy of the software which is very disappointing, I hope its not shit! I believe the software is protected with a hardware key.

Quote
I'm not sure of the history/ownership of the SmallSMT company but I think Michael is in Germany and handles technical support questions and may have designed parts of the machine???
Follow the money.   It did not make sense back then and it still seems odd now.  Its not a typical chinese setup either.

Quote
Sunny is somewhere in China and it looks like he
"She"

Quote
Stay tuned for more...

I hope this works out well for you.
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Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2019, 10:33:07 pm »
Continuing the adventure...

In our last episode we made the full payment and waited six weeks to check on the progress of the order...

Note: I am going to tell the whole story, I think and am hoping they will come through with excellent customer service. Again, my goal here is to document my experiences with the PNP machine and the manufactures service and support to help the EEVblog community and provide honest feedback to the manufacture.

Michael sent me email that day and said they will ship the machine in one week. He also offered to Skype with me to discuss further if I wanted to. But I did not. I was OK to wait another week.

Thank you, Michael.

Yesterday (April, 17 2019) I received shipping notifications via email. Three packages sent from Germany. I was curious to know if the machine was part of this shipment, I was expecting it to come from China. Michael told me no, it is just the stand.

The three packages are due to get here (Virginia, USA) tomorrow (Friday)! Two day shipping! Nice.

I will video the unboxing and the build! Break out your popcorn...






« Last Edit: June 09, 2019, 11:32:27 pm by revenue_controls »
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2019, 11:14:58 pm »
I would be interested to know the breakdown of pricing if you want to share it?
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Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2019, 11:21:39 pm »
all their pricing is on their site.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2019, 05:17:17 am »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:
That is completely normal here, it's done to avoid bureaucracy. However you must confirm the account details in an email with the company's public contact address cc'd, so that a rouge employee can't embezzle the funds (allegedly this has happened before).

Maybe your normal, but not mine.  I've been trading with chinese companys since 2006 and I have not paid into personal bank accounts at all.   In this case, i would ask smallSMT for its chinese business licence number.       

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Offline TJ232

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2019, 06:08:15 am »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:
That is completely normal here, it's done to avoid bureaucracy. However you must confirm the account details in an email with the company's public contact address cc'd, so that a rouge employee can't embezzle the funds (allegedly this has happened before).

I know quite well how the system works out there. I was located in HK for a while, worked and still working with a lot of Chinese companies and I fully understand a lot of things, including Chinese bureaucracy and the big Chinese appetite on tricking the system and tax evasion as national sport. Actually is not even seen as tax evasion, it's just considered a "smart" way to do business out there, I am right or not?

How do you consider this type of payment, avoiding bureaucracy or tax evasion?:)

 
 

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2019, 06:35:10 am »
Do you mean you wired the money to someone personal account not a company account? Brrr, scary and strange enough these days...
Looking forward to read the entire saga  :popcorn:

I am asking because I still have a dream about a small and versatile PNP machine that can fit in the office for small pre-production testing runs.
We have some CHMT36VA and a working OpenPNP for now, but I need to close the gap between them and the Essemtec production line that obviously doesn't fit in the Office :)
This would bridge the gap.. (although an ATOZ would be even better)
However as an Essemtec user I wouldn't put them on too high a pedestal, ePlace is nice pretty software and makes for a very straightforwards workflow but they are a niche machine in many ways and some of the advantages machines like this have get eaten away at by the bigger boys as time goes by.

Do you mean the PP-050 one?
I've seen one working about 5-6 years ago, pretty decent for that time, I remember that the owner said that the full price was about 60-70K, including some feeders and the second camera for the large components. It was a 1 nozzle only with tool changer. Another thing that I remember was that to be able to import any data from any CAD package you had to pay some extra money just for that.

Is this still available as new/refurb from manufacturer or just on the second hand market? Are they still doing active support on it? I count at least 50% of the long-term value of a PNP machine in the manufacturer after-sale, parts and maintenance support. I'm sure you know very well why :)

I am not putting Essemtec on any pedestal, they are just some decent built machines, with decent software and they are doing the right job in the right place.
Of course they have their own quirks but it looks like to be less annoying than other PNP machines have. So I would say decent level babysitting.
No machine breakdown incident to report, and this is something to count about. Maintenance at very basic level and that's it.

I don't consider Essemtec to be build for speed, for that I would look at dedicated turret style chipshooters from Universal, EuroPlacer, etc.
For those who like engineering porn this is how is looking a high speed machine head: http://www.uic.com/the-anatomy-of-a-superior-placement-head/


 
 

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2019, 07:22:49 am »
ooops, in my haste I meant to paste a link to a Dima HP110 thats currently on the UK 2nd user market. https://www.grovesales.co.uk/dima-hybrid-hp-110-pick-place/

I'm not sure what support looks like but presumably the NordsonDima  dispensing machines share quite a lot of technology between the two. However I'm not sure I would be happy with the level of support Styno has managed to rustle up for his older optimat machine. There didn't seem to be many installed in the UK when we were shopping which was one of the things that put me off buying new but I did see both an HP and MP in action with very satisfied customers. I quite liked their compact feeder that didn't try an integrate a reel holder, seemed like a good idea as was the compact tray changer.

Also worth pointing out most manufacturers charge extra for "CAD import" without getting hands on the software its hard to know exactly what it does, some packages really can read CAD data others are just giving you tools to manipulate a centroid file from its raw format into what the machine wants & matching up package and component names with the machine libraries (which is what Essemtec does). Other tools out there can do the same job like (Aegis CircuitCam PCBSynergy) and in some cases that is what they are selling you. In my historic quotes, iPulse wanted £7k for software and Dima wanted £1500 for the Cad4Dima package as did Essemtec although in the case of the last two this was very specifically covering being able to run that software on a different PC, I' not sure you can separate/disable the centroid import tools in Essemtecs ePlace program.

I think it is a shame companies don't release special versions of their software for people to get a feel of how the machine works or even get to work on some of their CAD data while the machine is in production/shipping.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2019, 08:14:49 am by SMTech »
 

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2019, 08:25:15 am »


How do you consider this type of payment, avoiding bureaucracy or tax evasion?:)

Its got to be at least a little bit dodgy, wonder what number goes on the customs value paperwork.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #19 on: April 19, 2019, 08:31:55 am »

How do you consider this type of payment, avoiding bureaucracy or tax evasion?:)

I see that Wenzhou SMALL Technology co. ltd is now listed as a a company in China, with a licence. Thats an improvement.   Its owner is listed as Wu Xiao Juan..  Given that Juan (隽) is a womans name, its unlikely to be Micheal.    I'm sure that Micheal told me that he owned it. Maybe i'm wrong.
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Offline Smallsmt

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2019, 08:49:33 pm »

How do you consider this type of payment, avoiding bureaucracy or tax evasion?:)

I see that Wenzhou SMALL Technology co. ltd is now listed as a a company in China, with a licence. Thats an improvement.   Its owner is listed as Wu Xiao Juan..  Given that Juan (隽) is a womans name, its unlikely to be Micheal.    I'm sure that Micheal told me that he owned it. Maybe i'm wrong.

I am impressed!
You can find easily on our website https://www.smallsmt.biz/about-1/
 

Online ebastler

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2019, 09:07:17 pm »
I see that Wenzhou SMALL Technology co. ltd is now listed as a a company in China, with a licence. Thats an improvement.   Its owner is listed as Wu Xiao Juan..  Given that Juan (隽) is a womans name, its unlikely to be Micheal.    I'm sure that Micheal told me that he owned it. Maybe i'm wrong.
I am impressed!
You can find easily on our website https://www.smallsmt.biz/about-1/

And you can see the folks here:
https://www.smallsmt.biz/home/contact/

Sunny = Wu = Juan, it seems.  :)
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2019, 12:53:24 am »
Sunny = Wu = Juan, it seems.  :)

In deed, and a 70% shareholder.  there is another party listed as a 30% shareholder.   

@Micheal, who owns SmallSMT?
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Offline Smallsmt

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #23 on: April 20, 2019, 03:07:02 pm »
Xiaojuan Wu is the owner (sunny) easier to remind for western people;)
 

Offline revenue_controls

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Re: SmallSMT PNP adventure, learning and documenting
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2019, 08:25:49 pm »
Continuing...

I received the stand via UPS in three boxes/foam rapping. All were in good condition and wrapped well. I started to video the unboxing and assembly but it got tedious very quickly. I will include some completed pictures. 

As I removed the items from the packaging, I was impressed by the top quality. The extruded rails and the assembly hardware are all heavy duty. Not stamped steel, but cast aluminum right angle mounting brackets with M8 1.25 bolts. The nut rail inserts were also of high quality and have a spring loaded ball bearing on them which keeps them in position during assembly!

The included manual has pictures but can use more assembly notes. I did not know at the time that by popping off some tabs on the angle brackets they can be used in different assembly connections. I emailed Michael and he filled me in quickly. Also note the rail nuts can be popped into the rail at any point in the rail, they do not need to be slid in from the end of the rail.

Assembly takes several hours, there are a lot of bolts. I left most of them loose until finishing to allow for repositioning. When done, I checked every bolt and really cranked down on it. I known around here for stripping bolts on a regular basis, but I did not strip any of these bolts and nuts! These are not cheep crap. I'm glad to pay for something of quality, Its paying for disappointing crap that will give the manufacture a bad reputation.

However, I did make some improvements to the caster mounting, adjustable leveling feet and the parts reel holders (Will upload pictures soon).

Modification to the caster mounting. I added a bushing to the bolt because the hole in the caster is too big.

Added lock nuts to the leveling feet

Added some rubber washers to the reel mounting rods

a good tool to have; the metal part of a file folder hanger


This stand is very nice, top quality and very strong. Nice job SmallSMT!
« Last Edit: April 20, 2019, 10:18:15 pm by revenue_controls »
 


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