Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

looking for SMT line, under $USD60K, UIC, Fuji, Assembleon?

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I'm looking at a small SMT line. 50 small boards per day, 15 unique components though I'd like to sometimes do the larger boards that have about 50 unique on them.

I can't get the boards done locally and shipping parts to my current (international) assembler is hard / expensive / unreliable for some parts.  The SMT line will mostly be a back up plan to improve lead time / help when parts aren't able to be shipped etc. I have decent current 3 phase and plenty of clean dry air.  Factory space so size isn't a major issue but if the whole setup is less than 8 m long that would be nice as I always want more toys...

For the pick and place I'm looking at used Universal Advantis or Assembleon Opal X II. I've also contemplated Fuji, europlacer and  Essemtec. Smallest parts currently required are 0402 and 0.5 mm pin pitch FPC.  Is there a strong preference for any particular machine?

Oven I'm planning on a Vitronics, BTU or Heller. I'll only be running lead free, and currently use GC10 which seems to work well for me. Is there something that does the job without needing more that 50 amps at 400 V?

Stencil printer, DEK looks like the option. Anything else I should look at?

Anyone got specific advice unit wise?


I'd be impressed if you can get a workable automated line in Oz for anywhere near that price ;-) That said your volumes are low enough that the set up you have outlined is serious overkill. If you have panelised boards then manual printing with a half-decent printer is a practical option esp. given the pitch of components you are aiming for. If using in-line machines don't forget to include a sprinkling of linking conveyors so you get the most out of the machines, also don't forget an exhaust system for the oven.  Most of the more 'serious' brands of P&P should be fine but keep an eye on the feeder availability & costs, you can *never* have enough feeders ;-)

50amps 3phase should be enough unless you are planning on a 10+ zone oven in which case you may be getting a little 'crowded' on both the power and length front.  Along similar thoughts to a manual paste printer you may also want to consider a small batch oven, which would do the job with less space & power (just not fully automated).

If you are near Camberwell (Victoria) you are welcome to drop in and have a look at our current set up (PM me). DEC printer, Europlacer P&P, HB oven and a mix of conveyors, loaders & unloaders. For quite a while I used an APS batch oven and it did quite well, our vapour phase was not nearly as useful, esp. when its price and running costs are factored in.


we have an automated line with an automated stencil printer, 2 pick and places machines, and a reflow oven. The total length with conveyors is around 7.5m. It was acquired in 2019 for a little bit less than 60k USD. That 60k USDs also includes an air compressor with dryer, a piping system for compressed air, a ventilation system, and some minor modifications to our electrical installation. Don't forget to include those costs in the calculation for the SMT line.

The automated stencil printer is DEK Horizon 03i. Around 10k PCBs, with components ranging from 0402 to BGA ICs and 0.5mm pitch QFNs, went through this machine, and based on that I would recommend it. Replacement parts are cheap and can be easily found. Also, the manuals are very well written so if you haven't used this machine before, you can quickly learn.

Previously to this stencil printer, we used manual printing with the manual stencil printers. First DIMA then LPKF Protoprint S. For 50 boards per day that is also an option, however, I think that from the point of repeatability, precision and scalability - an automated stencil printer is a better option. It will be more expensive than the manual printing setup but if you at any point have to scale your production, you won't have a problem with the stencil printer.

Pick and places are Essemtec FLX2011LC and FLX2011LCV. They use CLM feeders that are basically cassette feeders and we got a bunch of them with the machines, otherwise, those feeders and replacement parts for the machines are expensive. Those PnPs are great for the high mix, low volume production that we have. As I said, they placed components ranging from 0402 to BGA ICs and 0.5mm pitch QFNs and they have successfully done that - of course for smaller pitch components and 0402 we have had to play around with settings and reduce the speed to achieve high yield. The average placement speed per machine is around 3000CPH. I would say that we are satisfied with the machines although replacement parts and feeders are really expensive.

Reflow oven: we had Heller and now we have smaller Essemtec RO300FC-C. RO300FC-C is a smaller reflow oven (length of 2m) with 3 heating zones and 1 cooling zone. It has a pin-chain conveyor.
We used it for PCBs with 2,4 and 6 layers and basically it is a plug-and-play once you set up the reflow profile based on the solder paste that you use.

All in all, we bought the SMT line because of the same reasons as you: we wanted to improve our lead time and have production under our roof and we managed to do that.

@AgileE did you acquire new Europlacer or have you bought used one? What is the price of their feeders and replacement parts?

Hi uzbek,

I made the assumption that the $60K was in $AU, so that would drop it to around $42KUS (not sure of your location, but my guess is not in AU), which would make things a bit harder. The next issue is that in AU there is a *very* limited market for used SMT assembly equipment. Most are very old and any parts would have to be imported (as would feeders). You could import a used machine, but expect to be spending a significant portion of your budget on shipping, and then add 10% for the local sales tax on the imported items (GST). If you wanted to inspect before purchase you would also need to add an International trip to the cost (but could be a potential holiday!). Also there is close to *no* local support from suppliers and they generally don't have local offices and don't keep parts on hand (certainly not for older machines) and I doubt they would be interested in helping out on an older machine. It's a very different problem to those that are in the US, Europe or Asia ;-( I would really, really like to have ready access to used machines and parts, expanding my line would be so much less expensive. I'm rather envious when I look at the listings for machines overseas.

We got our Europlacer new, by the time you added in freight, risk, reliability and parts availability on a used machine, it was the obvious choice. It is most likely not the case elsewhere. The feeder 'elements' are quite inexpensive, only a couple of hundred or so for new ones. The trolleys that you put them in however are extremely expensive, as are the powered 'stand-alone' feeders. There is also a limited supply (anywhere) of used Europlacer feeders as older model feeders are still usable with new machines (albeit with reduced speed etc), so second hand machines often don't come with feeders. As we do not just make our own products but also offer assembly services the reliability of the machines is critical.

I'm looking at a second hand RO300FC or RO400FC, though is there a reason for the pin chain over belt?

I'm looking to spend USD$60K (sorry for not specifying currency, I forgot there was a country flag) I'll be shipping from overseas to Australia. I'm not looking to buy from AU, prices are nuts and availability is terrible. I do lots of freight normally, so not too scared of that bit.

Any reason for moving from the Heller? I'm mostly looking at the RO300/400 because they are much smaller and take a lot less power.

Machine wise I'm still deciding between the Fuji, Assembleon / Yamaha / Philips, or Universal Instruments. Feeders seem easiest to find for UIC/Yamaha though Fuji and Yamaha have some support in Australia. They all seem to end up a similar total price.

The Essemtec pantera xv is the same price as the UIC Advantis. The Advantis says it's 32,000 CPH vs 3400 CPH for the Pantera XV, not sure if raw speed matters that much or if it's a good measure of quality, the machines are similar years (2008/2009).  The feeders cost more for the Essemtec.


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