Author Topic: Stencil printers, what to buy?  (Read 7713 times)

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Online Simon

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Stencil printers, what to buy?
« on: May 04, 2020, 07:39:56 pm »
I am wishing to buy a stencil printer. The type that you put a foil stencil into and it gets tensioned in the printer. But what do i buy. For a zero income business/hobbyist these are not cheap but I have struggled with 0.8mm pitch chips and will be working with 0.5m and VQFN in the future no doubt.

So my candidates seem to be: the tecprint500 from CIF: https://cif.fr/en/manual-operated-stencil-printer-for-smd/285-manual-operated-stencil-printer-for-smd-tecprint-500.html

My dilema with this is that they do not explain what all the other parts are like the starter kit and the video is pretty poor showing an untesioned stencil that bounces up and down but I think that is user incompotence ans they clearly miss several areas as well, or is it that bad?

Or here: https://portal.multi-circuit-boards.eu/Shop these two models seem to do similar, one cheaper than the tecprint one more expensive.

Does anyone have any experience with these machines? or any other advice on what I can buy.
 


Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2020, 10:08:12 pm »
No i don't want to use framed stencils. They are £20-30 more expensive and it limits where i can buy them so i am further locked in. Even with a £25 saving in stencil cost to the extra £1000 it could cost for a frame-less printer After 40 stencils I have made my money back and as they are prototypes i don't need stencil longevity.
 

Offline cgroen

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 05:21:16 am »
I am wishing to buy a stencil printer. The type that you put a foil stencil into and it gets tensioned in the printer. But what do i buy. For a zero income business/hobbyist these are not cheap but I have struggled with 0.8mm pitch chips and will be working with 0.5m and VQFN in the future no doubt.

So my candidates seem to be: the tecprint500 from CIF: https://cif.fr/en/manual-operated-stencil-printer-for-smd/285-manual-operated-stencil-printer-for-smd-tecprint-500.html

My dilema with this is that they do not explain what all the other parts are like the starter kit and the video is pretty poor showing an untesioned stencil that bounces up and down but I think that is user incompotence ans they clearly miss several areas as well, or is it that bad?

Or here: https://portal.multi-circuit-boards.eu/Shop these two models seem to do similar, one cheaper than the tecprint one more expensive.

Does anyone have any experience with these machines? or any other advice on what I can buy.

Simon,
I'm in the same boat as you...
I looked at the CIF printer, the video on the product page looked very "hmmm" to me. You can clearly see that the stencil is not mated closely to the PCB, there is a clear gap between the stencil and the PCB in the video. Now, this could be as simple as an operator error, but I would have expected a "product video" to be perfect....

I looked at the Spíde printers here: http://www.spide-smt.nl/products.html
The 3 different sizes runs at around €1100, 1500 and 2100 (ex vat) (note only the largest one has vertical stencil lift)

EDIT: It seems that the  "PAGGEN TSD240" is the Spíde-SD240 from the looks of it....

Regards,
Carsten
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 05:26:12 am by cgroen »
 

Offline 48X24X48X

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 06:37:37 am »
JLCPCB charges less than $10 for a framed stencil. Based on my experience, the frame gives you an extra rigidity and sturdiness resulting in better print. Even for 1 off prototype, I would use framed ones.
 
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Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2020, 08:02:13 am »
JLCPCB charges less than $10 for a framed stencil. Based on my experience, the frame gives you an extra rigidity and sturdiness resulting in better print. Even for 1 off prototype, I would use framed ones.

Yes but then I am forced to buy from them. Using frames mean using only certain suppliers, I'd rather have the freedom to buy my PCB's where I like and if I can't get the stencil I need with it it's a non starter.
 

Offline Koen

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2020, 08:21:40 am »
For a zero income business/hobbyist
Some holes in your panel, same holes in your stencil and 5GBP of dowel pins. Simple, cheap, light, available everywhere. Deluxe version is having a steel plate with indexed holes for a base, 50GBP.
 

Offline 48X24X48X

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2020, 08:31:20 am »
JLCPCB charges less than $10 for a framed stencil. Based on my experience, the frame gives you an extra rigidity and sturdiness resulting in better print. Even for 1 off prototype, I would use framed ones.

Yes but then I am forced to buy from them. Using frames mean using only certain suppliers, I'd rather have the freedom to buy my PCB's where I like and if I can't get the stencil I need with it it's a non starter.

I don't use any printer until now, but truck loads of framed stencil. Just use a bunch of scrap PCB with same thickness taped to table to hold the intended PCB fixed in the center. That is all you need especially when you do so little quantity. I did more than 20K of boards with just that.

Forgot to mention, there's also other stencil suppliers on Taobao about the same price, example: Kingfull. Used to order from them USD15 shipped to Malaysia!
Other PCB service like the usual suspects too have them like Seeedstudio, etc.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 08:36:53 am by 48X24X48X »
 

Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2020, 10:03:32 am »
i have been down the DIY route and I don't want to go there again. I need something that can be adjusted in X, Y, Z. i had work make me something close to what I thought would work and it did not because I have to manually shunt the PCB around and it's a nightmare to lane up. I need good tensioning and then to be able to press down to stop the solder spreading under the stencil.

Yes i have taped down stencils up to nowwith a PCB either side of my target PCB, I did VQFN like that, it was fucking, fuckinf, fucking, hard work - not going there again.

I don't mind spending the money but I'm rather surprised at how poorly some of these things are sold considering the cost.
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2020, 10:56:17 am »
There's a disconnect with what you want from the printer and your desire for frameless floppy stencils. On the whole printers expect a frame and then they provide the adjustment table to match to create a printer. There are a few that take prototype stencils but what your really buying there is an adjustable frame and some of those (Eurocircuits for example) require specific design requirements on the stencil and the PCB for alignment. Personally I might try any old 3040 printer from ebay/ali) to provide your XYR table and then make your own frame  along the lines of https://www.olimex.com/Products/Tools/StencilPrinters/SD-240-Stencil-Printer/ (sold by Blundell in the UK).

It seems to me you own frame could achieve the same result by having a rigid frame made of 2020 extrusion and then two sliding pieces you lock in place to hold whatever size foil you have which you then simply tape the stencil too. It could be a little less heath Robinson if you know what the hell you call the clamping system on the SD-240 is called that tightens onto round rails, or you could buy and SD-240 in one of its many incarnations - its clearly in many peoples catalogs.

There is an advantage to designing in some tooling requirements for both your stencil and PCB( like euro-circuits ) in that then removes your need to play round getting initial alignment right.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 10:59:38 am by SMTech »
 

Offline Koen

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2020, 11:07:30 am »
Yeah I don't get it either. Method above has it all indexed perfectly. There's nothing to adjust ever.
 

Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2020, 11:56:10 am »
There's a disconnect with what you want from the printer and your desire for frameless floppy stencils. On the whole printers expect a frame and then they provide the adjustment table to match to create a printer.

Actually if you read my post i said, "here are 3 models of printer, does anyone have experience with them?". The answers have all been a debate about why do I not want to do some Heath Robinson stuff and use equipment that would give repeatability.....

What is the difference with how the stencil is stretched? My own jig has already demonstrated that I can indeed tension a stencil in a mechanism and results are fine but for the positioning.

Now I could use part of my jig as a frame and stick it into a printer that expects a frame, or I could go one step further and get something less clunky like the ones advertised. I am asking if anyone has ever used any of these.
 

Offline MR

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2020, 03:58:14 pm »
https://portal.multi-circuit-boards.eu/Shop

TSD240
I have one of that series (the smaller one) and it works well. The pitch is not so much an issue of the stencil printer - but of the stencil itself.
The quality of the stencil printer is solid, it's in our office for over 5 years.

I'm also using a paper cutter for cutting the stencils so I don't have to worry where the stencils come from (I usually go with cheap or free stencils for the first prototypes). For production I only use framed stencils for a bigger machine.

Something like that:
https://www.amazon.de/Ideal-Schneidemaschine-Hebelschneider-Papierschneider-Schnittl%C3%A4nge/dp/B000KJKAJC

For the fine-adjusting a Ghetto USB Microscope for 10$ from ali-express is also recommended (I'd buy 2 or 3 of them).
eg.:
https://de.aliexpress.com/item/32958443515.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.4eb65c3f0hez4H&algo_pvid=b40957ff-fdde-4193-a20a-297c87e3e134&algo_expid=b40957ff-fdde-4193-a20a-297c87e3e134-1&btsid=0be3746c15886947480975895ec5e2&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

of course any higher quality microscope can be used but the cheap UVC (usb video class) microscope cameras are just fine for that task
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 04:15:28 pm by MR »
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2020, 09:52:03 pm »
Well there you have it an actual user! I have to say I have looked at these systems as I find floppy stencils very frustrating when they come my way but I think the only other account I've seen is mikeselectricstuff who has the ec one. I just watched the CIF video, truly shambolic* and the price on RS is.. ouch!  By contrast I think the SD240 is pretty reasonably priced compared to others, and apparently does the job.
Also looking at it, does it lack any form of height adjustment to allow for various thicknesses of PCB the SD240 appears to but the CIF just looks like a fixed hinge.

*As I have mentioned previously, perhaps 90%of all Youtube videos showing manual printing show it done badly IMHO, watch videos of proper automatic machines do and try and replicate the angle and speed there, and don't be stingy with the paste it needs volume to roll.
 

Offline 48X24X48X

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2020, 04:41:26 am »
Quote
*As I have mentioned previously, perhaps 90%of all Youtube videos showing manual printing show it done badly IMHO, watch videos of proper automatic machines do and try and replicate the angle and speed there, and don't be stingy with the paste it needs volume to roll.

Agree on this when most of these videos showing the squeegee close to lying flat on the stencil without proper angle. They are basically pushing in the paste into the opening.

Offline MR

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2020, 05:49:18 am »
does it lack any form of height adjustment to allow for various thicknesses of PCB the SD240 appears to but the CIF just looks like a fixed hinge.

you can adjust the height on the SD240 I think that one is the smallest one we also spent around 1k EUR for it years ago.

I think for that price you can go to a machinist and ask doing something like that, if you have a good one around he should be able to do it for the same price and support your local economy.

Our local machinist charged us around 500 EUR for an oversized frame (but we end up only ordering framed stencils at the end because that's more economically when doing full production runs with a big machine).

Anyway for prototypes the SD240 is good for us and we have nothing to complain about it.
The SD240 is no rocket science, but if you need a good working tool quickly - just go for it it's solid as mentioned and does a good job (and don't forget about the paper cutter for the stencil to get the stencil into shape properly).
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 05:53:03 am by MR »
 

Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2020, 06:54:49 am »
Well there you have it an actual user! I have to say I have looked at these systems as I find floppy stencils very frustrating when they come my way but I think the only other account I've seen is mikeselectricstuff who has the ec one. I just watched the CIF video, truly shambolic* and the price on RS is.. ouch!  By contrast I think the SD240 is pretty reasonably priced compared to others, and apparently does the job.
Also looking at it, does it lack any form of height adjustment to allow for various thicknesses of PCB the SD240 appears to but the CIF just looks like a fixed hinge.

*As I have mentioned previously, perhaps 90%of all Youtube videos showing manual printing show it done badly IMHO, watch videos of proper automatic machines do and try and replicate the angle and speed there, and don't be stingy with the paste it needs volume to roll.

Yes I CIF sell it for around £1400, I was going to contact them and ask for a quote and the manual and point to their shoddy video and tell them how bad it looks and that I am considering other options. The tecprint500 does have adjustments, on paper it is the best but i want to see proof before spending that sort of money.

Something like the SD-240 I can practically design and get made at work as i need one there too but it will be a lot of time and arguing at work to get it done.
 

Offline GerardG

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2020, 08:00:04 am »
Hello Simon,

Just my two cents to this thread.

When using small pitch components, like 0.4mm pitch or 0201, we recommend the SD360U.
This stencil printer is using a vertical lift to get a nice and clean print of the smaller solder paste features.

https://printtec.nl/contents/nl/p4126_Spid%C3%A9_SD360U_fine_pitch_SMT_stencil_printer.html

Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2020, 08:43:16 am »
And that looks like an SD-240 for twice the price.

I find the prices of these things rather extortionate. It's only because most people cannot make their own and of the small volumes they probably sell in that these prices can even be thought to be justifiable. It's not like there is much material cost or even manufacturing time. It takes longer to design than make.
 

Offline MR

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2020, 09:10:33 am »
2000 is too expensive for such a tool, then you can also outsource the assembly, or get a framed stencil printer and buy framed stencils from Asia.
When I was in a factory in Taiwan I only saw framed stencil printers for prototype, they are not playing around with frameless stencils.

https://de.aliexpress.com/item/32330966096.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.99b55f46lSR1yn&algo_pvid=42132fbd-2cd8-4cc1-a5ab-49c0be639e76&algo_expid=42132fbd-2cd8-4cc1-a5ab-49c0be639e76-1&btsid=0ab6f81615887564179861931e72ff&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

As mentioned a local machinist should be able to do such a tool for 500-1000 EUR (and still have some good profit on it, and if you need something else from him in the future he might also give you a better price then).
« Last Edit: May 06, 2020, 09:14:13 am by MR »
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2020, 09:19:16 am »
Yup all super basic if you have access to the skills/tools. Price is just about justifiable when you get to the ones with powered lift, or powered/guided squeegee when some proper engineering and planning starts to go in to how they work. However I think the sales are super low, and they are too heavy to ship cheaply from China. It must be possible with a decent direct marketing approach to make one in the UK/EU and sell it for less, I did have a customer muttering about making one, but he's never done so to my knowledge.
 

Online Simon

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2020, 10:04:52 am »
The only bit I would be a bit stumped on is how to make the table move relative to the base in the x axis for the SD-240 style. The springs are a clever way to make an adjusting mechanism without too much complexity. For the x axis I'd need a way of having the knobs swivel whilst not moving so that the thread can drive a mobile threaded part that can twist on the base to stop thread damage and locking but move the base.

I'll have to have a play in CAD.
 

Offline SMTech

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2020, 10:27:20 am »
On our rather old very basic clamshell printer (SAM1515 I think it still exists for sale) . The XYR adjustment threads pass through  two metal plates sandwiched together that are bolted to the bottom of the table, rubber grommets at the entry and exit of the sandwich allow for the rotation https://imgur.com/a/5h7gsb4 very basic but it works.

Our rather bigger and more expensive PBT/Essemtec one has rods with ball joints on the end, the two rotational Y ones are springy rods, the X is solid.
 

Offline mairo

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #23 on: May 06, 2020, 12:03:13 pm »
Have you considered the frameless option from Neoden (I got one few months ago, but have not had chance to use it cause of lockdown .., build looks solid):

https://www.aliexpress.com/i/4000124287041.html
 

Online wraper

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Re: Stencil printers, what to buy?
« Reply #24 on: May 06, 2020, 12:10:07 pm »
After buying their reflow oven, I will not trust anything that CIF sells. I have a big doubt they have any clue about what they are doing.
 


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