Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

Shopping for a new, upgraded assembly line. Help and advice requested.

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We are expanding this summer, and need to up our PnP game a level or two. Currently running a few Charmhigh 48VB machines and a small army of Controleo reflow ovens. It works, mostly, but the machines are of course finicky, and I feel we have been lucky so far with the lack of show-stopping problems. Not to mention, the converter software for them is flaming hot garbage.

Needs: automated stencil printer, PnP machine that has at least 60 lanes worth of 8mm, but we will be mixing in some large tapes trays and also a couple vibration feeders because why not. Need a reflow oven that can keep up. Currently using and very happy with AgnosPCB neural inspection software, so I figure the lane will either pause at that station (I can build that over a conveyor) or the first cell of production can stop there. We will be building a new facility, so I need to know how long it needs to be, hence I'm working on which line we will go with and how it will be setup. I'd like it to be modular enough that we can integrate more niceties as we continue to grow. I need at least 15mm component height capability.

Budget is of course as cheap as I can get non-junk for. I'd LOVE to keep the entire line under $100k, but I can be talked into a bit more. Less is better.

Was looking at the Fox2 with the paste jetting, but I have zero experience with the company or paste jetting in general. We will be doing BGA components.

And go.

I should add that plan B (if no good options for plan A exist) is to simply upgrade the PnP machines (still want advice) to get less finicky, more precise, feeders that don't totally suck, get at least a semi-automatic stencil printer (manual stencil printing is the pits), and get a new reflow oven. This option would not need to be on an automated conveyor system, just go back to feeding boards into each machine by hand.

I can put you in contact with HWGC who makes affordable PnP machines and also sell other line equipment.

The Charmhigh machines are quite crap relatively speaking and are known to have problems with the feeder system.

HWGC charge about $12,000 for a 64 feeder 6 head and $15,000 for a 100 feeder 8 head.
Can use pneumatics or air-triggered electric feeders with all their machines.

Automated stencil printers are about $20-25k.

As for reflow ovens. I highly recommend upgrading to a mesh/rail oven. I personally would not use anything under a 6 zone (6 top 6 bottom).
Rails cost a bit more but are worth it if you do double-sided assembly or want fully automated lines (at least being able to stack boards on the end of the line).

Feeders, 8mm are around $50 for pneumatics and $150 for electrics.
The $50 pneumatics are fine for 0406/0804 caps and resistors. But for diodes, LEDs, etc use electrics.

Note that the 15mm component height can be done with these machines. You just need to setup manually the pick order for said tall components.

As with any Chinese budget machine, you can run into issues. I have run into a couple, all of which were sorted out by HWGC or our group chat.
For $100k, you could easily get 2 pnp machines, auto stencil, unloader & loader, reflow oven, inspection table, and shipping.

Are you looking for good, cheap or new?  Choose 2. I'd get a refurbished PnP from a major brand (Fuji,  Panasonic, ASM, UIC, Samsung/Hanwha, Yamaha) a screen printer from MPM, Ekra or Dek and any used oven,  depending on your size preferences.  My line cost around that,  2 UIC Genesis machines, tray feeder, MPM printer and essemtec oven. I'd find someone you can pay for install and training.   

Oh and ask on Smtnet.  Much more experience there with more brands. 


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