Author Topic: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???  (Read 3594 times)

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Offline mendez

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Hey Guys,

I'm new to this forum. Sorry if someone already discuss my topic; I just can't find the answers to my questions:

1. All of my PCBs have though hole components (JST Connectors) and I'm trying to find a cheap soldering machine but they are all above 5K. Does anyone know any cheaper ones besides the Robotdigg R8?
2. Speaking of Robotdigg R8 model; I cant find any information or videos from users. Does anyone knows about this machine (link below)
3. Is there any DIY solutions for soldering machines?

Thanks alot !


R8 Soldering Machine: https://www.robotdigg.com/product/1025/R8-series-automatic-PCB-Soldering-Robot-Machine?gclid=CjwKCAiAkrTjBRAoEiwAXpf9Cet67HC3gu3ef-Pk0yUmoVzROIj6E1ruUCSnuIf5UkeCKISSOHTO4RoCP9UQAvD_BwE
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2019, 11:19:52 pm »
I have a CNC mill.  I built a solder feed drive for it with a little gear motor and drive, and some logic.  When signaled by the CNC control, it can advance solder wire, and then retract just a bit when the signal stops.  I put a standard soldering iron in a spring-loaded tube, and use the Z-axis plunge of the CNC to apply the iron to the board.

Well, it didn't work all that well.  If the solder wire doesn't wet to the connection, it will continue to fail to make a solder joint until manually attended to.
After that result, I changed the setup to use about twice the thickness of solder wire, but have never put it back on the mill to try again.  If I have to stand there watching it, I might as well just solder the board by hand.

So, it ALMOST worked, but seems like it still needs some tinkering to get it right.

Jon
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2019, 11:27:12 pm »
I am faced with similar issues that Mendez is facing.

I think a solder fountain is the better way to go.

Haven't found anything inexpensive enough but i am looking.
Selective soldering machines are in the 20K preloved state.
 

Offline mendez

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2019, 11:32:16 pm »
I' tempted to just buy the cheap R8 model from robotdigg and try to make it compatible with OpenPNP ? Do you think it's that is possible?

jmelson; I'm willing to try what you did. Do you have any pictures of your setup?
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2019, 12:22:56 am »
It is possible altough it already uses D code interpreter.
Nothing wrong with G code, the language of modern CNC machines.
 

Offline mendez

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2019, 04:33:47 am »
It looks like someone already figurate out how to use the R8A (robotdigg 4 axis solder robot) with OpenPnP

https://groups.google.com/forum/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=footer#!msg/openpnp/B_8wMvdKTCA/Diza6-JUBAAJ
 


Offline nisma

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2019, 04:25:52 pm »
If you are happy with straight solder from above, as example dual row header is difficult or not possible with this configuration. Then it works, or be prepared for modifying it or building using different base.
 

Offline briandorey

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2019, 04:30:12 pm »
3. Is there any DIY solutions for soldering machines?

https://hackaday.com/2015/05/05/open-source-diy-soldering-robot/


That is my robot! We gave up on it as the soldering irons were not powerfull enough and it was faster to solder manually :(
 
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Offline helius

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2019, 05:58:35 pm »
I am faced with similar issues that Mendez is facing.

I think a solder fountain is the better way to go.

Haven't found anything inexpensive enough but i am looking.
Selective soldering machines are in the 20K preloved state.
Depending on your requirements you may be able to use pin-in-paste with a hot air "fountain".
http://www.zeph.com/zt-6_specs.htm
The cost and maintenance is a lot less than selective soldering machines.
 

Offline jmelson

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2019, 09:09:51 pm »
I' tempted to just buy the cheap R8 model from robotdigg and try to make it compatible with OpenPNP ? Do you think it's that is possible?

jmelson; I'm willing to try what you did. Do you have any pictures of your setup?
I really need to do that, but it was a really low-tech attempt just to see if I could make it work.  I'll see what I can do.

Jon
 

Offline mendez

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2019, 03:56:09 am »
I am faced with similar issues that Mendez is facing.

I think a solder fountain is the better way to go.

Haven't found anything inexpensive enough but i am looking.
Selective soldering machines are in the 20K preloved state.
Depending on your requirements you may be able to use pin-in-paste with a hot air "fountain".
http://www.zeph.com/zt-6_specs.htm

I will check it out; thanks.
The cost and maintenance is a lot less than selective soldering machines.
 

Offline Reckless

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2019, 07:05:47 am »
3. Is there any DIY solutions for soldering machines?

https://hackaday.com/2015/05/05/open-source-diy-soldering-robot/


That is my robot! We gave up on it as the soldering irons were not powerfull enough and it was faster to solder manually :(

How come you gave up?  Why not put more powerful soldering irons?
 

Offline mendez

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 03:55:28 pm »
That robot is cool; It will be nice to make a kit to attach to a Desktop CNC. If someone will like to do that let me know; I can help with all the CNC work (parts and prototypes)

I talked several times with Robotdigg about the R8 or R8A but I have a feeling that I will waste my money. Software/Manual is all Chinese + no videos online.
 

Offline forrestc

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2019, 07:12:28 pm »
1. All of my PCBs have though hole components (JST Connectors) and I'm trying to find a cheap soldering machine but they are all above 5K. Does anyone know any cheaper ones besides the Robotdigg R8?
2. Speaking of Robotdigg R8 model; I cant find any information or videos from users. Does anyone knows about this machine (link below)
3. Is there any DIY solutions for soldering machines?

I purchased a chinese soldering robot a year or so ago and am still trying to get it dialed in.   We're pretty close.   Been a real challenge to hold the components in place, get the right high-percentage-flux cored wire, etc..   The goal being to replace the tempermental wave solder machine.

My recommendation is that unless you're soldering a *LOT* of pins on a board, you're probably going to be better off hand-soldering. 
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2019, 09:13:08 pm »
What problems are you experiencing with the wave soldering machine?
 

Offline forrestc

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2019, 10:26:39 pm »
What problems are you experiencing with the wave soldering machine?

Wave soldering machines are generally best for high-volume applications.    We're running maybe 50-75 boards through it at a time once maybe twice a month.   (When we bought it we were 100% THT, now we only use it for boards with a largish number of through hole pins).    By the time we get it heated up, all the process dialed in so it isn't bridging based on all of the environmental/chemical/physical parameters of the run for that day it's time to shut it down.       Even with 300+ solder points per board it's borderline time-wise to bother with the wave machine when you account for setup and teardown.   Plus, I find that the amount of flux residue left on connectors leaves quite a bit to be desired since the flux wicks up into the connector body and onto the mating surfaces.   For shielded connectors, the vapor of the flux flashing off can leave the shield tarnished as well.   

I could probably solve some of the flux residue issues with a better flux application method - this is an older machine with a foam fluxer.  I looked at swapping it out for a spray fluxer but never could find one I felt was worth spending the $$$$$$ on.

What we really wanted was a selective solder machine that could have been used every day on everything we do with a connector on it, but by the time I got a machine in which would work for us, dealt with all of the surrounding supplies such as nitrogen, etc, and all of the other expenses, it was going to be so much that with our volumes that it was still cheaper to hand solder the connectors for several years.

The soldering robot was like $5K or something around there.   The biggest issue has been how to hold the connectors on the board while loading the board into the machine since the board is inverted.   It seems like I've got that licked finally, and I'm left with dialing in soldering programs and appropriate cored wire.   
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2019, 11:24:17 pm »
I understand Your problems.
Foaming flux is old tech based on high solids fluxes ( its the solids which allow for foaming to take place.)

A much tidier approach is spray fluxer with low solids flux.

In late eighties early nineties I was selling Soltec gear and way back then we were having issues in maintaining low solids flux using the hygrometer bulb to measure flux density and add solvents  to it simply because the flux and the solvent were very close in density ( low solids flux).

I am seriously contemplating purchasing a solder fountain from Wenesco and adding PCB frmame around it to achieve "selective soldering".

Actually there isnt much technology in a solder fountain. It is simply a fentrifugal pump driven in a controlled fashion ( variable speed motor ) when it is is safe to do so ( solder is in liquid state ) .

The major issue with modern lead free alloys is the aggressive nature of lead free solders.
Best material for lead free solder pot is gray cast iron, observations point to iron alloying into tin at a rate of 0.2mm per year under "normal" operating conditions.

Next best is titanium NOT stainless steel.

Titanium has the advantage of being formed and welded into shape, not having to have a mold for every piece of cast iron pot.

Titanium dissolves into tin alloy at a rate of 1mm per year.

SO I am conflicted .... at about 5K Wenesco is not a great buy but it's within the realm of possibilities.... I need to make some inquiries into the cost of titanium plate and fabrication costs and availabilitiy of correct titanium alloy.
 

Offline mendez

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2019, 11:55:30 pm »
1. All of my PCBs have though hole components (JST Connectors) and I'm trying to find a cheap soldering machine but they are all above 5K. Does anyone know any cheaper ones besides the Robotdigg R8?
2. Speaking of Robotdigg R8 model; I cant find any information or videos from users. Does anyone knows about this machine (link below)
3. Is there any DIY solutions for soldering machines?

I purchased a chinese soldering robot a year or so ago and am still trying to get it dialed in.   We're pretty close.   Been a real challenge to hold the components in place, get the right high-percentage-flux cored wire, etc..   The goal being to replace the tempermental wave solder machine.

My recommendation is that unless you're soldering a *LOT* of pins on a board, you're probably going to be better off hand-soldering.

I have to solder at least 40pins per board with a total of 50 boards every month. Total of 2000 thoughole pins to solder....
As for keeping the components in place; my plan is to have a mold (3D printed or aluminum) with the shape of the boards with the components; are you doing something similar?

Would you mind sharing which robot you own?
« Last Edit: February 28, 2019, 11:57:28 pm by mendez »
 

Offline forrestc

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2019, 06:33:17 am »
I have to solder at least 40pins per board with a total of 50 boards every month. Total of 2000 thoughole pins to solder....

We easily do that in a day via hand....   Even if it takes you 15 seconds per pin, 2000 pins * 15 seconds = 30,000 seconds / 3600sec/hr = 8.33 hours.

Hiring someone at even $25/hr all-in would only cost you $208.25 per month.   Takes a lot of months to pay for a $6.5K robot, even if it eliminated all of that time.

In reality, it's significantly quicker than 15 seconds per pin for the soldering itself.  I'm guessing 2-3 if you take your time.  Generally, if you learn that drag soldering works on a connector as well as SMD components, you can get many of the pins down to the second range assuming you have multi-pin connectors.    At even 3 seconds, the soldering itself is only a couple hours.

One note is that irons + tips make a BIG difference.   Amazingly we've got a  Solomon SL10 with the conical tip which comes with it that we've been using for connectorizing boards for years.   Well, more accurately we've had multiple copies of the Solomon SL10 that we've used for connectorizing boards for years.   In any case, something about that particular tip/iron combo just works for the data connectors we use.  I think the trick is that you can tilt it down and heat several pins at once with the tip so that you've got one preheating, one you're applying solder to and one that is finishing up as you drag.  But that's just a guess.   

On the other hand we haven't found a single tip that works well in this application on the Pace TD100 handpiece at the SMD rework station.   I suspect some of the larger chisels might do the job.  But we've tried quite a few different options.   So it's a lot about finding the right tip, iron, and the like for your application.

I just happened to find the following youtube video which is similar to how we "drag solder", although we tend to feed the solder with a second hand, and it sounds like he was putting too much downward pressure on the board, and well a lot of other sins that we don't do anymore, but it shows you how quickly you can solder a row of pins (about 1 pin per second and he just discovered how to do it).  What is funny is that iron sure looks like one of the crap SL10's I mentioned....although I think with a bit more pointy tip.



As for keeping the components in place; my plan is to have a mold (3D printed or aluminum) with the shape of the boards with the components; are you doing something similar?

I decided against the mold route for various reasons, the main one being the difficulty in keeping everything aligned as you put the mold over the top of the board to flip it.     What I ended up with is a set of 3d printed clips which clip around the board on the edges as shown at
.  This one holds down 4 small 0.1 pitch headers and the opening on the right jumps over a ribbon cable connector on the right side of the board which is held with a different clip.   I have found that applying a bit of self-adhesive closed cell foam to the clip along any component support portion provides enough give that it holds the stuff snuggly into the board while accounting for dimensional differences.

I then have another jig which these fit snugly into and it stays mounted on the machine, so in essence, the clip's edge self aligns the board in the one axis, the board edges are used in the other axis, and the board is supported on the bottom of the clips aligning the Z axis.   Seems to do well, but we haven't really started production on it yet. 

Would you mind sharing which robot you own?

I have one from Waterun which I paid around $6.5K for with a whole bunch of tips/consumables.  This was before tariffs got crazy in the US, so it would be more to get in now (I just paid 25% on a $4K fiber laser I just imported - much equipment like this is now getting tagged with a really high tarriff rate).
 

Offline Reckless

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2019, 01:41:56 am »
What problems are you experiencing with the wave soldering machine?

Wave soldering machines are generally best for high-volume applications.    We're running maybe 50-75 boards through it at a time once maybe twice a month.   (When we bought it we were 100% THT, now we only use it for boards with a largish number of through hole pins).    By the time we get it heated up, all the process dialed in so it isn't bridging based on all of the environmental/chemical/physical parameters of the run for that day it's time to shut it down.       Even with 300+ solder points per board it's borderline time-wise to bother with the wave machine when you account for setup and teardown.   Plus, I find that the amount of flux residue left on connectors leaves quite a bit to be desired since the flux wicks up into the connector body and onto the mating surfaces.   For shielded connectors, the vapor of the flux flashing off can leave the shield tarnished as well.   

I could probably solve some of the flux residue issues with a better flux application method - this is an older machine with a foam fluxer.  I looked at swapping it out for a spray fluxer but never could find one I felt was worth spending the $$$$$$ on.
 

Which wave solder model do you own?  How hard is setup/take down?  I just bought a DDM Novastar Spartan with foam fluxer. Why would foam fluxer not work?

I went against solder robot idea as it felt chinese models wouldn't hold up well.
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2019, 03:46:28 am »
Nothing wrong with foam fluxer. It worked in its time.

In order for the flux to foam up it needs to have a certain content of solids .
When it goes through the wave these solids may or may not leave acceptable no clean residues.
In order to minimise the level of residues post the wave the flux needs to be either low solids ( use spray fluxer ) or foaming flux designed to not leave garbage post soldering process.
 

Offline Reckless

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2019, 06:33:33 am »
Do you think the American made Novastar unit will have trouble leaving garbage post wave?  FYI I am new to wave soldering and got the dual wave unit (needs a ton of solder 200+ kg).

I am looking for the best small desktop unit ~10".  I see manncorp selling theirs for $30k but not sure if its any better than Novastar.  Torch sells a unit but I have lost my trust in chinese industrial equipment.
 

Offline forrestc

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2019, 08:13:00 am »
Which wave solder model do you own?  How hard is setup/take down?  I just bought a DDM Novastar Spartan with foam fluxer. Why would foam fluxer not work?

I have an early Novastar 12S that I bought used (like it has a very low serial number).   It's served us well over the years.   Have run thousands of boards through it, many were 100% through hole.

Setup/tear down is a pain - mostly due to dealing with the fluxer since it needs to be drained and cleaned.   It's also a pain getting the process dialed in.   Getting it making joints is easy, getting it not to create bridges is hard.

On the foam fluxer - it's more about the lack of control of the quantity of flux you apply.   By the time you get a foam flux applied to the bottom of the board you get quite a bit of it since it generally just coats the board.    This also tends to migrate into the connectors leaving residues which are inert, but if due to the connector design it wicks onto the connector mating surface this can cause problems.  For us it is mostly with RJ45's.   I've asked others who I know use similar connectors and it seems everyone who foam fluxes has this problem.   With a spray fluxer you can apply less flux and control the amount a lot more.

In addition, there is a bit of a 'mist' that the board ends up going through just because of the fine popping bubbles.   Not a lot, but a little.  This is also an issue.

I went against solder robot idea as it felt chinese models wouldn't hold up well.

I can't say that there is any sign that this is engineered in any way that will fail in the next 4-5 years under our volume.   We did buy some spare parts (belts, etc), but after dealing with it, I don't think I'll need them.

But I also picked a vendor with a good reputation.
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: Soldering Machines/Robots for Through holes ? Robotdigg R8 Anyone???
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2019, 10:47:43 am »
are you looking to work with lead free solder?
 


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