Author Topic: Fellow LPKF equipment users?  (Read 33693 times)

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Offline traTopic starter

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Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« on: May 24, 2017, 10:38:26 pm »
I operate a PCB prototyping lab that has grown over the years from a single Protomat S62 to the setup we have now:

-Protomat S62
-Protomat S63
-Protolaser U4
-Multipress S
-MiniContac RS x2
-Contac S4

I've been hoping to find (or create) a group for LPKF users to help each other out and share what is going on in their world of prototyping. I fabricate a lot of boards, and I've run into and solved a lot of issues, modified my equipment, and created processes that technically aren't within the scope of what this equipment should be doing. It'd be awesome to bounce ideas off of one another instead of having to lean on technical support any time an issue pops up. Does this interest anyone else?
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 10:45:01 pm by tra »
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 10:40:22 pm »
As per email, I don't there is enough interest in this to warrant a new forum section.
I can make it a sticky thread in this section though?
 
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Offline traTopic starter

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 10:43:50 pm »
That would be awesome! Yes, please make a sticky.  :-+
 

Offline lectrohamlincoln

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 10:22:25 pm »
I just joined the LPKF club!

This weekend I brought an old Protomat 93s back to life. It took quite a bit of fiddling, but I can control it from a Windows 10 laptop over a usb-to-parallel port adapter. Work flow is Kicad -> LPKF CircuitPro PM 2.3 -> BoardMaster 5.1.214 -> Protomat 93s. Big thanks to LPKF for having old software and manuals available for download.

Does anyone have any advice for two layer board registration and via plating?
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2017, 01:05:35 pm »
I run a PCB prtotyping service in Brisbane.

Initially i looked at LPKF and Japanese MITS products and in the end decided to roll my own.
On the question of hole wall activation i used to use Atotech palladium based hole wall activation process however local supplier of chemistry no longer stocks it but will bring it in as a special order...with a special price tag.

Have started to experiment with a pyrolytic copper nano particle  activation process...so far it is performing extremely well both in terms of lower maintenance ( in fact zero maintenance cost) than palladium and good hole wall coverage.
Have tested it in both double sided and multilayer work. ( tested on Probot flying probe tester).
Early in the piece i settled on tooling pin registration at known location on machine bed so that data flipping in combination with tooling post guarantees good registration outv
comes.
 

Online trevwhite

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2017, 05:12:46 pm »
I have an LPKF C60 machine but have not used it for a while. I can get quality boards so cheap that sometimes it is easier to schedule the work and order boards. I would like to use the machine again but found it was a bit time consuming for double sided boards without having a proper plating system in place. I would be very interesting to hear more about the pyrolytic copper nano particle  activation process.

Registration for double sided boards would always need a slight adjustment - maybe an issue with this particular unit but once running the results were very good. Always very accurate milling. I am surprised people have made money out of prototyping services. How do people price that up? Do you have full solder resist processes setup as well?

Trev

 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2017, 09:30:46 pm »
Trev,

The basic process consists of desmearing drilled holes in either alkaline pickle ( in our case ) or an acidic solution to remove epoxy from the holes melted and deposited by the drilling process. Particularly important in case of multilayer work.
Subsequent steps are quite straight foirward.

Immerse the de smeared laminate in magic potion.
Dry in a hot oven at some low temperature way below Tg of the laminate
Take the temperature up to 140C for a short stint during which the chemistry goes through pyrolysis ( you can see puffs of smoke rising from laminate)
remove from oven the surface is now covered in brown metallic copper particles.
Either wash the surface clean making sure the barrel is not affected by washing process or use electro polishing to remove surface deposits.
Rinse post wash / electro polish dunk in sulphuric acid as a pre conditioner to electroplating...

Electroplate for a few minutes..inspect.. and possibly repeat activation in case a hole is not plating up.

With experience the second bite of the cherry fades into folklore ( you become good at it).
As to the maintenance of magic solution; one of components is ammonia
it will evaporate over time
the solution is sensitive to UV, in fact it will go through pyrolysis  under normal exposure to suns UV irradiation over a period of time.
Keep it in a brown wine bottle ( in a pinch a beer bottle will do)
Keep it refrigerated and stoppered to minimise evaporation losses.

Some of the dry ingredients may be proscribed in your country as the chemistry relies on hypo phosphate and other not so common chemistry often associated with illegal activities.

We were looking for an alternative to colloidal palladium  and came across this concoction. Incomparably simpler to use and maintain than palladium tank.
 
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Online trevwhite

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 06:25:40 am »
Hi and thanks for the intro to the process. Years ago I set up a colloidal palladium based system. It cost me quite a bit of money and time to set up and it was a pain. I found that sometimes the plate would not attach to the copper. It would lift off in a thin sliver which was really depressing after the amount of work it took to plate the board.

Sounds like it might be quite tricky to get hold of the chemistry for this alternative process..



 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 11:42:56 am »
Problem with colloidal palladium is ensuring the suspension does not drop out..this means constant monitoring of electropotential and dosing with reagent,a pain in the neck
Should the palladium drop out of suspension...you are looking down the throat of a very expensive ( 500 dollars ) mud pile.
 

Online trevwhite

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2017, 08:56:57 am »
My problem was not with the hole plating. I could get fantastic hole plating. The problem I found was the copper plate was not bonding to the copper laminate half the time. It would just peel off. Maybe I did not clean the boards well enough before final plating and was leaving some barrier on them?

You do have to be careful with the colloidal palladium though. Can not heat it up too quickly. Can not let its temperature drop too low in storage. I did not use it long enough to get to monitoring and dosing it. Maybe I would have experienced even more hassle there.

Is there more information on this new magic potion?




 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 11:55:26 am »
See https://www.eevblog.com/forum/manufacture/plated-through-hole-activator-solution/ for more info on the magic solution...problem is getting hold of the phosphite salts.
I understand it is an ingredient used in cooking nasty stuff.
 
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Offline Jøhnny5

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 04:54:08 pm »
Hello fellow LPKF'rs(?)

For 2 years I used an S62. Last year (early 2017) we upgraded to an H100. Both have been finicky and temperamental. As such I've been wondering what else is out there? What other products are direct competitors with LPKF for PCB prototyping. I haven't used anything but LPKF and do not know the "space" very well.
 

Offline LAPSKRFC

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2019, 11:45:40 pm »
Dear LPKF users,

I'm in the process of setting up an rf lab. I'm planning to purchase both LPKF Protolaser U4 and LPKF Protomat S104 for prototyping. In addition, I am considering the following machines MultiPress S for Multilayer PCBs and LPKF Contac S4 for through-hole plating. Can anybody comment on these machines? Are they reliable or should I think of other options.

Furthermore, in order to do pick and placing I also think of buying the other three machines that they have: LPKF ProtoPrint S for Solder Paste Printers, LPKF ProtoPlace S, and LPKF ProtoFlow S. I would sincerely appreciate if you share your experience with these machines. Instead of these machines I can buy similar machines from DDM Novastar. What do you suggest? If the budget is fine, which one should I go with?
I very much appreciate your help with this.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2019, 12:03:42 am »
Dear LPKF users,

I'm in the process of setting up an rf lab. I'm planning to purchase both LPKF Protolaser U4 and LPKF Protomat S104 for prototyping. In addition, I am considering the following machines MultiPress S for Multilayer PCBs and LPKF Contac S4 for through-hole plating. Can anybody comment on these machines? Are they reliable or should I think of other options.

Furthermore, in order to do pick and placing I also think of buying the other three machines that they have: LPKF ProtoPrint S for Solder Paste Printers, LPKF ProtoPlace S, and LPKF ProtoFlow S. I would sincerely appreciate if you share your experience with these machines. Instead of these machines I can buy similar machines from DDM Novastar. What do you suggest? If the budget is fine, which one should I go with?
I very much appreciate your help with this.

I can comment that as an EX LPKF owner, i'd never give them any more of my money as their service was terrible. 
On a quest to find increasingly complicated ways to blink things
 

Offline rshroat

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2019, 05:16:51 pm »
Hello thanks for starting this forum, I have been looking for a forum other LPKF users.

I have used a S100 machine at a previous employer and it was crude but worked for the simple boards we needed. I am now with a new employer that has just bought a new S64 machine.

We seem to be breaking a lot of drill bits with this S64 machine. I know that bits are going to break occasionally, but we will only get two or three holes drilled before the small (0.4- 0.7mm) bits break, anyone one else breaking bits this often?

We are using 1.5mm thick boards, I am wondering if thinner boards would be easier on the drill bits.

Thanks in advance for any input.
RS
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2019, 09:05:51 pm »
Reasons for drill breaking are

spindle runout ( slop in spindle bearing or dynamic imbalance in rotor )

axis instability ( positional software steper motor driver step control mechanical slack in an axis )

I started to experience some tool breakages recently. The solution was to re tune an axis servo loop.  I had changed the grease  to a heavy slide-way oil so the servo loop whihc was set up in 2007 when the sideways were new started to misbehave sufficiently to cause the tools to break.

It was the tip of the engraving tool that would shear , no problems with drill bits.
 

Online trevwhite

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2019, 05:48:33 pm »
Hi All
I have been using my C60 machine a bit lately for some fast prototyping. I did 2 prototypes in a week for a rush design project and then ordered green boards for final delivery to the client. The machine worked a treat. I also invested in the Bungard Favorit press and made all my vias 0.7mm drill size. This used the smallest rivet available to create a good enough method for me for prototyping double sided boards. I usually solder the rivets afterwards just to ensure no intermittent connections.

Scared to say it but I have never broken a drill bit. What I do is make sure the board is completely clean from grease before I mill. I scratch it with a scotch pad or fine sandpaper and then wipe it with IPA. Before drilling I do the layer with the 0.2mm V bit to indent the center point of all the holes. This I believe stops drills from slipping and locates them better.

The only weird thing I have with the machine is registration between sides. I always have to recalibrate the home position when flipping the board over. I make it work and once done, the machine makes a perfect job but I never have been able to just do one side, flip it over and the registration already be perfect. Probably something I have messed up but I tried re-homing and all that. I just never got to the bottom of what caused it.

Does anyone have a reliable method for top quality solder resist creation. I saw the following video but this does not lend itself to the lpkf machines. But I like the idea of being able to mill the resist instead of a chemical process.

https://youtu.be/7EctuSTL7-w
Trev
 

Offline Ramazan

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2019, 12:24:28 pm »
Hi all,

Since you are more familiar with lpkf s63 than me, i need your help about an error that i'm getting past days. when i tried to connect my PC to machine, 'Remove dispenser' error pops out on my screen even though i do not use dispenser at that moment. I don't know how to fix it?
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #18 on: July 04, 2019, 10:47:14 pm »
Have a look at MITS out of Japan.
 

Offline dpersuhn

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2019, 10:04:12 pm »
Does anyone on this thread have a Protoflow S/N2?  I'd be interested to get some photos of the ceiling and back wall of the oven cavity.

We just retired an original Protoflow that had the nitrogen option because the controller died and picked up a used Protoflow S to replace it.  Unfortunately the new unit isn't nitrogen equipped and we use it on occasion.  A little "exploration" demonstrated that the new protoflow can interface with the N2 option board from the old unit the provided flow rate data.  All I need now to get nitrogen back is to get an idea how the gas should be plumbed into the newer oven, as I'm trying to keep the setup as close to the original design as possible.
 

Offline abdulkhaleg

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2020, 08:08:05 am »
I haope that i have many machin lpkf but i can not uses because i have laptop windows 10 and the machin no cotrol by this pc
 

Online mk_

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2020, 08:40:40 am »
I haope that i have many machin lpkf but i can not uses because i have laptop windows 10 and the machin no cotrol by this pc

Well... add a W7 with dual boot and be happy with your lpkf!
 

Offline balage

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2020, 09:20:03 am »
Hi Guys,

At the company we have an S103. We are totally screwed every time we have to use it. A nightmare, really. We have never ever made a PCB without a problem.

The machine started breaking the tools into the clamp a while ago, and it is a returning problem occasionally. Sometimes it totally lost the reference and the machine drops crazy errors.
The PC software is also a crap, always freezing and loosing contact with the machine.
We have replaced the depth limiter but we don't find where to calibrate it again.
There is no manual about maintenance. Do you have any manual-kind thing for S103?

For the price of the S103 we could order prototype PCBs from china for years...
 

Online mk_

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2020, 09:46:13 am »
Hi Guys,

The machine started breaking the tools into the clamp a while ago, and it is a returning problem occasionally. Sometimes it totally lost the reference and the machine drops crazy errors.
The PC software is also a crap, always freezing and loosing contact with the machine.
We have replaced the depth limiter but we don't find where to calibrate it again.
There is no manual about maintenance. Do you have any manual-kind thing for S103?

For the price of the S103 we could order prototype PCBs from china for years...

looks like you have some ESD-Problems when the suction(?) is running. I solved this with a blank wire in the hose, one end connected with the LPKF. So the FR4-cuttings can not build up a lot of charge anymore.

btw: LPKF was always very helpful with support, so why don`t you ask them?

 
 

Offline balage

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Re: Fellow LPKF equipment users?
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2020, 10:23:56 am »
looks like you have some ESD-Problems when the suction(?) is running. I solved this with a blank wire in the hose, one end connected with the LPKF. So the FR4-cuttings can not build up a lot of charge anymore.

This sounds interesting. It worth a try, thanks! And it has solved mysterious things?

The local representative is not helpful. I mean WAS not helpful as they have quit from the LPKF-trap. So now the closest technical service is in Germany. I have not asked them yet.
 


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