Author Topic: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer  (Read 3160 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ehughes

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 383
  • Country: us
Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« on: December 22, 2017, 03:46:57 pm »
I am looking for any recommendations for a decent solder paste printer.

1.)    This is for low volume in-house prototypes
2.)    Max board size will be 8x11
3.)    No budgetary requirements as of yet.  This would be my 1st purchase so I am unsure what is a good price target for my application.  It looked like decent printers were $2k to 4k.


 

Offline ivaylo

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 628
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2017, 08:25:43 am »
Stencil and a squeegee not good enough?
 

Offline jmelson

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1444
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 04:01:27 am »
I've done several thousand boards with an unframed stencil etched from .003" brass shim stock.  I had a tooling plate with a grid of 10-32 holes on 1" centers.  I made some bars with a step on one edge to hold the board, and grooves so that socket head screws could hold the bars and adjust their position to just hold the board by the edges.

I use masking tape to make a living hinge for the stencil.  I apply the tape to one edge of the stencil, align the stencil to the board and then press the tape down onto the bars.  After applying the paste, I hinge up the stencil and take out the board.  This really works well, and these stencil aligner-printer units are way overkill for anything less than full production work.

Jon
 

Offline DTJ

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 901
  • Country: au
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2017, 04:06:43 am »

I use masking tape to make a living hinge for the stencil.  I apply the tape to one edge of the stencil, align the stencil to the board and then press the tape down onto the bars.  After applying the paste, I hinge up the stencil and take out the board.

Jon

I do the same only I use vinyl duct tape for the stencil hinge - it sticks REALLY well but still removes cleanly. I found masking tape didn't stick hard enough for my fumble fingers.
 

Offline Corporate666

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 2007
  • Country: us
  • Remember, you are unique, just like everybody else
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2017, 05:38:08 am »
at the price point you mentioned, I am guessing you are talking about a manual printer?

There is a pretty good thread on manual printers here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/manufacture/looking-for-framed-stencil-printer/

I bought this one:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/high-precious-TK3245-double-side-SMT-PCB-stencil-printer/32827005614.html

and after a little tweaking, I am very happy with it.  It was producing somewhat inconsistent results, but I went through the whole thing and tightened up all the nuts and bolts which removed all of the slop and play, and after doing so, I get beautiful results. 

Previously we would tape boards to a flat surface and tape a frameless stencil on top and screen, then lift the stencil and put new boards in.  It worked OK, but getting registration perfect was always a challenge, and after pasting maybe 10 boards, the tape loosened and it would throw things off.

The printer I linked to above can easily print dozens and dozens of boards one after another and they are all equally perfectly aligned.
It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline janekm

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Country: gb
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2017, 06:48:00 am »
Like others I would suggest you try printing without a "printer" frame first. I've visited assembly shops in Shenzhen which have the fancy printer (like that TK3245) but don't use it except on very rare exceptions, as the setup time isn't worth it. With a bit of practice you can just line up the stencil on each board and print.

A good quality squeegee may be more important  ;D
 

Offline Corporate666

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 2007
  • Country: us
  • Remember, you are unique, just like everybody else
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2017, 11:03:31 am »
Like others I would suggest you try printing without a "printer" frame first. I've visited assembly shops in Shenzhen which have the fancy printer (like that TK3245) but don't use it except on very rare exceptions, as the setup time isn't worth it. With a bit of practice you can just line up the stencil on each board and print.

A good quality squeegee may be more important  ;D

Having printed many thousands of boards both ways, I would disagree that the manual printer takes long to setup, or that it takes longer than a frameless stencil taped to a desk. 

If you tape the board down, you have to tape some PCB scraps to make a frame, line up the stencil manually and tape it down and paste - then do the same for the other side. 

The printer gets rid of all the taping and lining up hassles.  The only extra work is putting the pins in the base to support the board, but this doesn't take much time at all.

Cleanup is easier with framed stencils since excess paste is contained.

If you are printing 1 or 2 boards at a time and neither method is already set up, I'd say it takes the same amount of time.  If you are doing more than 5 or 10, the actual stencil printers linked are faster.  If you're doing 0603 sizes or QFN's, a real stencil printer makes it much easier to align and get repeatable/accurate results, too.
It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Offline ehughes

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 383
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2017, 07:06:56 pm »
We currently use the "tape it down method".   It is OK for some designs but 0.5mm pitch QFPs almost always result in in shorts that involve rework.   Also,   it makes cleaning the stencil difficult in between applications. After a couple lifts the orientation is off a bit.

The volume is pretty low here as we go to a real assembly house when real quantities but would like to avoid as much rework as possible when doing small development batches.   That and I am getting prepped for a 0.65mm BGA and would like to get a bit better setup.

For some prototypes we do use a the real fab house but often times the lead time is not acceptable for the small prototypes.
 

Offline jmelson

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1444
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2017, 11:43:55 pm »
Not all my boards have 0.5mm pitch, but a lot of them do.  I rarely have any problem with solder bridges due to that.  My P&P machine is not accurate enough for that lead pitch chip, so I sometimes have to manually touch up the alignment.  But, it is not the fault of the stencil alignment.  Also, not all boards are routed that accurately, so unless you align each board to fiducials, you can only get the stencil so close.

Jon
 

Offline DerekG

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 884
  • Country: nf
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2017, 12:55:19 am »
We currently use the "tape it down method".   It is OK for some designs but 0.5mm pitch QFPs almost always result in in shorts that involve rework.

Perhaps consider using a thinner solder paste stencil.
I also sat between Elvis & Bigfoot on the UFO.
 

Online blueskull

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 13537
  • Country: cn
  • Power Electronics Guy
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2017, 01:08:47 am »
We currently use the "tape it down method".   It is OK for some designs but 0.5mm pitch QFPs almost always result in in shorts that involve rework.

Perhaps consider using a thinner solder paste stencil.

+1. Without stepped (or leveled, whatever fancy name it is) stencil, you don't get large pads coexist with fin pitch pads. You will see excessive stress (which fails drop test) with too little solder from too thin stencil, and you will see shorts with too thick stencil.
 

Offline janekm

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 516
  • Country: gb
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2017, 07:37:14 am »
Like others I would suggest you try printing without a "printer" frame first. I've visited assembly shops in Shenzhen which have the fancy printer (like that TK3245) but don't use it except on very rare exceptions, as the setup time isn't worth it. With a bit of practice you can just line up the stencil on each board and print.

A good quality squeegee may be more important  ;D

Having printed many thousands of boards both ways, I would disagree that the manual printer takes long to setup, or that it takes longer than a frameless stencil taped to a desk. 

If you tape the board down, you have to tape some PCB scraps to make a frame, line up the stencil manually and tape it down and paste - then do the same for the other side. 

The printer gets rid of all the taping and lining up hassles.  The only extra work is putting the pins in the base to support the board, but this doesn't take much time at all.

Cleanup is easier with framed stencils since excess paste is contained.

If you are printing 1 or 2 boards at a time and neither method is already set up, I'd say it takes the same amount of time.  If you are doing more than 5 or 10, the actual stencil printers linked are faster.  If you're doing 0603 sizes or QFN's, a real stencil printer makes it much easier to align and get repeatable/accurate results, too.

I didn't explain it well enough... they don't tape either the board or the stencil, just line up the framed stencil on top of the PCB. With a lot of practice it's quicker than either other method, but not really advisable for someone who only does it once in a while, I suppose...
 

Offline jmelson

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1444
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2017, 06:09:35 pm »
We currently use the "tape it down method".   It is OK for some designs but 0.5mm pitch QFPs almost always result in in shorts that involve rework.

Perhaps consider using a thinner solder paste stencil.
Right, I use a 0.003" stencil, and reduce the aperture size to about 50% of the pad area on fine-pitch parts to avoid shorts.  I'm still learning the optimum aperture size, but this seems to be getting pretty good.

Jon
 

Offline l0wside

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 114
  • Country: de
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2018, 10:38:05 am »
Thinner stencils (120µm, i.e. 0.005") are usually just fine down to about 0.4mm pitch. 0.003" sounds more like foil.

On each PCB prototype order, I am haggling with myself whether to spend the extra money for a proper stainless steel stencil or not. With one-sided boards, the polyimide stencils by OSH Stencils are just fine. With two-sided boards, it is a PITA as you can´s place the board properly - with the stencil printer, life is a lot easier.

Just my 2ct.

Max
 

Offline jmelson

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1444
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2018, 02:40:57 am »
Thinner stencils (120µm, i.e. 0.005") are usually just fine down to about 0.4mm pitch. 0.003" sounds more like foil.
No, in brass, it is still fairly stiff stuff.  MUCH stiffer than kitchen aluminum foil, for instance.  But, yes, it is noticeably less stiff than .005" brass, which is what I started with.  To avoid bridges, the apertures would have to be REALLY small with a .005" stencil, that's why I went down to .003"

Jon
 

Offline sugi

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 6
  • Country: jp
    • DENSIKEN
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #15 on: September 03, 2019, 05:30:37 pm »
I made a solder stencil printer for less than $50.

https://youtu.be/06pBT5ii6Hc
 

Offline Reckless

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 229
  • Country: us
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2019, 07:18:12 pm »
I have a couple for sale in the $4500 range.  They are MPM fully automatic which are much nicer and easier to use especially for small fine pitch components.

I'm in Chicago and can ship from my office.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2019, 07:28:03 pm by Reckless »
 

Offline soubitos

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 336
  • Country: gr
    • I sell on Tindie
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2020, 08:34:54 am »
very nice implementation! Where does one find those hinges and do they have a specific "name" i can search for them online?
 

Offline TimCambridge

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 82
  • Country: gb
Re: Recommendations for Solder Paste Printer
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2020, 11:44:29 am »
Where does one find those hinges and do they have a specific "name" i can search for them online?

"Butterfly hinge clamps" or just "hinge clamps." A pair should cost you around $20.
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf