Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

Fortex RF100 / HotAir 3000 reflow oven - should I go for it..?

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espena:
I'm considering purchasing a reflow oven for small scale prototyping in my workshop. I am not going for modified toaster ovens or any other kinds of DIY solutions. Hence, after reading a number of reviews of cheap Chinese alternatives, I am convinced that it's worth it to move on to a higher price point.

Right now I am checking on Fortex RF100, which, by the way, seems to be identical to Bungaard HotAir 3000 (?). These appears to be a in-between alternative if you're not going all in on very expensive industrial equipment.

https://uk.farnell.com/fortex/rf100/reflow-oven-504mm-x-500mm-x-314mm/dp/3380763

Anyone here with experience from using this oven? Other suggestions for ovens around the same price range (1500-2000 USD)?

dave_k:
If you're looking at the Fortex RF100, you can buy the exact same machine direct from the manufacturer for a fraction of the price.

https://www.itechsmt.com/products/rf-a350-high-precision-benchtop-reflow-oven-for-smt-line

I have an RF100 and it works reasonably well and the quality of construction is a little better than the T962 (ie: no masking tape holding it together inside).

Doctorandus_P:
I've heard horrible stories about very similar looking reflow ovens (T962). It starts with tape that that holds the insulation in place and that burns and smells horribly when you first turn it on to various ways of un even heating. And you can't see what's happening inside the oven. It's very amazing they are still in business after 30 years. Also, you pay around 4x the markup compared to self importing from china (For example RF-200A from Ali / Ebay / whatever).

I would prefer a DIY toaster oven with homebuilt (or kit) controller every time over an overpriced gadget like this.

Kean:
Interesting - I'd not seen the Fortex RF100 before.  As mentioned by dave_k it appears to be an ITECH RF-A350 which you can buy on AliExpress for less than half that price, but of course you have limited support or warranty when buying direct from the China manufacturer.

I bought myself an ITECH RF-A350 mid last year to replace the PUHUI T-962A I had been using for the last 6 years, and I've been quite impressed by it.  The control panel & display isn't that intuitive, but once you select the right profile for your PCB mass and paste type it just works.  I've not yet investigated the PC software, or done any detailed monitoring of the temperature profile as I just needed something I could hit go on and get on with other work.

I'm seriously considering getting another one (probably the smaller RF-A250) so I can alternate jobs between them as the overall cycle time is a bit longer than the T-962A.  The total shipped cost of an RF-A250 appears to be roughly the same or cheaper than buying a new T-962A, so I'm surprised anyone would still be buying those.  The only positive of the T-962A is the alternate firmware available for it, which I found made an average reflow oven to be somewhat useable.  Unfortunately my T-962A is terribly inconsistent in results depending on where in the oven drawer I place my PCBs, which I haven't noticed on the RF-A350 - not that I've used the full size of the larger drawer yet.

dave_k:
I'm doing boards which are almost as wide as the drawer and have had very consistent and satisfactory results no matter where the board is placed. The only criticism I have is the constant running fan on the top-left corner of the case is a bit loud..

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