Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

Pick and Place Surface Mount assembly

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Hi folks,
I constantly have small runs (5-20) of several S/Mount PCBs to make up.
I currently use a very nice 3D stereo boom video system and full JBC S/Mount stations, but it's becoming too much to do manually.
Anyone know of / sell / hire / advise / swap / new or 2nd hand - a semi? manual pick and place assembly machine?
I can justify up to $20K-ish. I have huge stock of loose parts - 1206s, SOT23s etc, is that an issue.
All ideas / comments appreciated.

You can justify $20K for that??  :o

Have you actually priced an assembly house? They usually do small runs by hand, but even if you insist on pick and place, at maybe say $400/job (one-off NRE cost screen+setup), you can still get a lot of different jobs for $20K!
Seriously, you will spend most of your time learning to use the machine and the headaches to run it, it's more trouble than it's worth. Not to mention the consumables etc. Then you need a reflow oven and paste dispenser too.

Ian from Dangerous Prototypes talks about that here:

Lose parts are useless for pick and place,  you need to have them all on reels.

I use a guy in Melbourne (Vutronics) to do sort runs (<100) by hand. No setup fee, first class results. Cheap and quick, and works from exact number Digikey packets. Email me for the contact.


That's quite an outlay for 5-20 boards at a time...and loose parts are not your friend, as Dave said.

I'll take the opportunity for a little plug  ;) - I can assemble short runs at good prices, loose parts no issue, quotes are free of course: http://www.circuitology.com/assembly/


--- Quote ---You can justify $20K for that?
--- End quote ---
Yep. I used to do quite large runs and had access to production lines / assemblers, so I am familiar with amount of work required JUST to set it up.
I also used to send work off to contract manufacturers, and that also was (is) a lot of work / setup. I've also hired full / part time assemblers, but
my last GOOD one died on me .. that sucked. Been through it all in 40+ yrs. The deal killer is not being able to use my loose stock ... bummer.
So I guess, it's either look for another assembler (a live one) or keep doing it myself.
Like I said, using a contract company, as you suggest, is a LOT of setup, plus I'd have to re-purchase a lot of stock (or hire someone to stick it back
into reels :-) ).
I do MANY designs a year, so have to watch purchase quantities.
Thanks for the reply, I'll check out the video and mull it over.


--- Quote --- I can assemble short runs at good prices, loose parts no issue
--- End quote ---
I appreciate the offer, but it needs to be VERY local. There is a lot of associated CNC / metalwork to be run at the same time,
and I OFTEN change something at short notice. It's the nature of my work.


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