Author Topic: Best investment options for board production?  (Read 1096 times)

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Offline WyverntekGameRepairs

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Best investment options for board production?
« on: December 09, 2019, 05:24:58 pm »
I'm starting a business, and part of that business is designing and manufacturing high-quality third party game console accessories and replacement parts. At the current moment, I'm designing a N64 power supply - but I'm planning on making a lot more products in the future. What starting specialist equipment should I prioritize investing in to help make the assembly process of the boards faster (and maybe less expensive), if any specialist equipment? I'll be hand-soldering parts, so something to allow me to put all of the components in, flip the board, and solder all the components without having to hold not-yet-soldered components in place with my hand would be fantastic (kinda like what Clive from BigCliveDotCom has). Things like that.

I ask because I've never gotten into production like this, so I think it would be best to have professional input to help me get into it. Thanks :)
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Offline ataradov

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2019, 05:47:36 pm »
The best thing you can do for assembly speed is not use though-hole components.

A decent soldiering station is a bare minimum. The rest depends on the complexity of the boards.
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Offline james_s

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2019, 06:54:14 pm »
You'll want to build or otherwise acquire a reflow oven and a jig for holding the PCBs and solder paste stencil. For low volume hand production you can do a manual pick n place arrangement on a table.

Judging by your other related posts you're a long way from a production ready product though. I think you are underestimating the difficulty of developing a good reliable SMPS. There's a reason a large amount of equipment utilizes an off the shelf of 3rd party custom designed power supply.

What's wrong with the original power supplies that came with the consoles? Is there really much demand for replacements?
 
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Offline Bud

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2019, 07:13:27 pm »
Do you realize what it takes to certify power supplies? Have you looked at the liability implications?
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Offline WyverntekGameRepairs

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2019, 10:07:00 pm »
You'll want to build or otherwise acquire a reflow oven and a jig for holding the PCBs and solder paste stencil. For low volume hand production you can do a manual pick n place arrangement on a table.

Judging by your other related posts you're a long way from a production ready product though. I think you are underestimating the difficulty of developing a good reliable SMPS. There's a reason a large amount of equipment utilizes an off the shelf of 3rd party custom designed power supply.

What's wrong with the original power supplies that came with the consoles? Is there really much demand for replacements?

Thanks, your feedback is helpful. The pick-and-place arrangement sounds helpful. While a reflow oven would be fast, I'm afraid of it damaging components such as electrolytic capacitors and ICs.

Also, I am not underestimating the difficulty of this project. I know full well that SMPS are not exactly for beginners or even intermediates. I know how these function, and I know how to apply them properly. The only thing I really have yet to learn is EMI surpression and snubbing, and the more complex principles that go along with them. I'll learn it as I design it. I'm still only at the design stage. I'm not planning on getting out a prototype before Feb. of 2020. I think this will take me about a half a year to develop and perfect. However, everyone starts somewhere, and this is where I am starting from.

No, there isn't an extremely high demand for these power supplies. However, all of the ones I've come across are really badly designed or really unreliable. I want to make something that actually lasts, so that people don't need to go and buy more. Yes, it is cheaper to get something from, say, China. But it will not last long, and is really more disposable than useable. Once the item breaks down, the user must go and buy another. And while they may seem cheap, all of that money adds up. Sure, it's a huge risk to make something quality. But I'm willing to take that risk.

Do you realize what it takes to certify power supplies? Have you looked at the liability implications?
Yep! I have. I know all of the risk. I have been in contact with UL, and I'm working with them to get my design certified once I finalize it. I've also been doing research on all of the other certifications / standards that may need to be met / had. Don't worry, I'm fully aware of the liability implications. Which is why I want this to be high quality - It needs to last and be able to actually function properly and stable, without interfering with other electronics or wasting power.
The best thing you can do for assembly speed is not use though-hole components.

A decent soldiering station is a bare minimum. The rest depends on the complexity of the boards.
Maybe. I would use SMD, but I do not have a hot air station. (Maybe I should invest in one?)
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Offline james_s

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2019, 10:39:19 pm »
Hot air is primarily for desoldering and rework, I normally solder SMD parts with a soldering iron or reflow on a hot plate. Much mass produced equipment is reflow soldered in an oven, it requires care but is fully do-able.

Get a prototype functioning properly before you worry too much about the details. For something like this where high frequency is involved I normally deadbug it on copperclad. It's ugly and took a while to grow on me but I was eventually inspired by the late Jim Williams and gave it a try. It offers the best performance of any prototyping method I've found.
 
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Offline KL27x

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2019, 11:38:53 pm »
For thru hole parts, yeah, they are a total pain.

But I understand low volume production. BTDT. Each unique board is a new challenge. But some things that can be helpful may benefit from some basic inhouse machining ability. You don't necessarily need a CNC milling machine. Even just some basic wood working tools, like a router table, you can build jigs to hold PCB boards by the edge. Just the ability to make a repeatable slot in a strip of plastic can give you a night and day difference in how you assemble a board.

Stick the board in the jig, place 1 set of parts, place foam over it, then flip. Sometimes with thru hole LEDs or PCB mounted connectors, you might use the housing (or a modified housing) itself as part of the jig.

As said, each board is a unique challenge that will have unique problems and a unique order of assembly that will make it most efficient. Having some way to build and try new things will be helpful if you want to make any money doing low volume production for yourself rather than buying services/stuff.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2019, 11:42:09 pm by KL27x »
 
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Offline WyverntekGameRepairs

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2019, 12:06:38 am »
Hot air is primarily for desoldering and rework, I normally solder SMD parts with a soldering iron or reflow on a hot plate. Much mass produced equipment is reflow soldered in an oven, it requires care but is fully do-able.

Get a prototype functioning properly before you worry too much about the details. For something like this where high frequency is involved I normally deadbug it on copperclad. It's ugly and took a while to grow on me but I was eventually inspired by the late Jim Williams and gave it a try. It offers the best performance of any prototyping method I've found.

Hm. That does actually make more sense. Maybe later in my production lifetime I'll consider getting into that. Again, I'm just afraid that using ovens could harm sensitive components. As you said, it requires care. But maybe once I've been producing boards for a while, I'll have enough experience to try it out, so who knows?

As for your prototyping method, I'll definitely give it a try when the time comes. Also, I agree with you wholeheartedly that I should focus more on the design and not too much on what I'll need to help with the assembly of final boards. However, I believe it is important to think ahead of time. It is embarassing, inefficient, and dangerous to have to do last-minute scrambling, so I want to make sure I cover the bases that I may forget later on. I know I probably should have waited to start asking these questions about halfway through the prototype process, but I've decided to ask it now as well, that way if I need certain tools that will take a while to acquire I'll be able to know when I should get them.

For thru hole parts, yeah, they are a total pain.

But I understand low volume production. BTDT. Each unique board is a new challenge. But some things that can be helpful may benefit from some basic inhouse machining ability. You don't necessarily need a CNC milling machine. Even just some basic wood working tools, like a router table, you can build jigs to hold PCB boards by the edge. Just the ability to make a repeatable slot in a strip of plastic can give you a night and day difference in how you assemble a board.

Stick the board in the jig, place 1 set of parts, place foam over it, then flip. Sometimes with thru hole LEDs or PCB mounted connectors, you might use the housing (or a modified housing) itself as part of the jig.

As said, each board is a unique challenge that will have unique problems and a unique order of assembly that will make it most efficient. Having some way to build and try new things will be helpful if you want to make any money doing low volume production for yourself rather than buying services/stuff.

You know, you're right. I'll definitely consider that.

That solution is actually brilliant. I don't know why I didn't think of that before :D

And yes, I agree. Each board will definitely present their own challenges, all of which I will have to deal with. It will be important for me to keep in mind that with a bit of ingenuity and common sense, I can find solutions for those unique challenges. And yes, I'll have to find solutions with limited tools for the most part, but I think that makes it all the more a learning experience.
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Offline spongle

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2019, 12:24:12 am »
Buddy you are ridiculous.

UL Certification? No problem!

Hot air station? Too expensive and complicated.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2019, 12:34:29 am »
Buddy you are ridiculous.

UL Certification? No problem!

Hot air station? Too expensive and complicated.

I'm sure he can get some useful advice and perspectives from Messrs Kruger and Dunning.

More seriously, there's no point in spending money on manufacturing equipment until after you can demonstrate you have something that people can and will buy.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline james_s

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2019, 01:16:04 am »
It's important to think ahead, yes, but the time for that is after you have a functioning and tested prototype, a proof of concept to confirm that your basic design is sound. Then when you start laying out the board you should consider manufacturability. You are a ways away from that though. Speaking as someone who has dabbled in power electronics and designed a few power supplies it is much harder than it looks. Especially for off-line SMPS, the concept is simple but the devil is in the details so they say. Get one little thing wrong and it goes bang the moment you apply power. Other times it will seem to be working and then some minor change in load or line voltage and all hell breaks loose, bang.
 
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Offline WyverntekGameRepairs

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2019, 03:12:46 am »
It's important to think ahead, yes, but the time for that is after you have a functioning and tested prototype, a proof of concept to confirm that your basic design is sound. Then when you start laying out the board you should consider manufacturability. You are a ways away from that though. Speaking as someone who has dabbled in power electronics and designed a few power supplies it is much harder than it looks. Especially for off-line SMPS, the concept is simple but the devil is in the details so they say. Get one little thing wrong and it goes bang the moment you apply power. Other times it will seem to be working and then some minor change in load or line voltage and all hell breaks loose, bang.

Wow, you've designed power supplies before? Nice! In that case, I'll follow what you have done (as you have experience that I do not) and I'll definitely hold off on this until later then. I'm going to ask a mod to lock this thread until that point in time. Once I get to the proper point in time where I DO need to consider manufacturability, I'll request for it to be unlocked. If you'd like to give me a few pointers or tidbits of advice, I suggest that you PM me or Email me. I really appreciate your feedback and constructive criticism. And I agree, I may be taking things a little too fast, haha. I'll be focusing on the design for now, and nothing else until the time comes. Besides, now that I think about it, if I focus more on the design I will be able to get it done quicker.

Again, I seriously appreciate the feedback, as starting a business and manufacturing process is a little tricky in the beginning. :D
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Online gnif

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Re: Best investment options for board production?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2019, 03:28:30 am »
At the request of @WyverntekGameRepairs this thread has been locked.
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