Open Source SMT assembly
We deal with electronic boards design and assembly for more than 25 years. During this time we got lot of experience and passed through many technologies and equipment so we know the + and – in all these approaches to produce. In other hand most of the people who work in the SMT production area are not quite willing to share their knowledge, sure there is money behind the production, so everyone would love to “consult” you for a nice amount of money, in most of the cases you got nothing for your money or far less than you expected.
We had to go through this path by our own and to learn how things work the hard way. Sure there are lot of internet resources and books about SMT manufacturing and troubleshooting, but at least in Bulgaria people who do PCB assembly do not like to share, as they think they will lost their advantage or will grow up competition. Once you learn things you see that this is not rocket science, but if you have to work on this road alone you can waste lot of time. Now we do our SMT equipment installation, service, calibration, maintenance by our own. In the rare cases we needed SMT equipment manufacturer-distributor-service advice on problems we had to wait months and usually they suggest replace with new this or that while later we found this was not the problem at all and not necessary.
We believe that knowledge sharing is good, this rise the competence of the people around you with which you share, and you both can move forward faster instead to re-invent the wheel again and again.
So here is our proposal: If you want to start your own SMT electronic board assembly and have questions on the technology or about machines you need to set your own production send us email describing what do you want, what is the type of boards you want to assembly, quantities and your rough budget and we can advise you if this is possible and eventually what equipment you will need to accomplish this.
SMT assembly equipment you need to start
- Reflow oven
- Solder paste printer
- Pick and Place machine
- AOI inspection machine
- Transport conveyors
Sure you can solder SMT components with your soldering iron, but this is slow process, you can do many mistakes and you need stady hands and good eyes. Also this is most expensive way to assembly SMT components.
To speed up soldering you can use batch reflow oven, where you print the solder paste and place all components then put the board in the batch oven and it solders all components at once, this is good for prototypes, for small production conveyor reflow oven is better option.
We have hot air gun soldering irons (prices in range EUR 50-100), small batch reflow ovens (price from EUR 300-500 up to 1500) and conveyor oven both used and new for sale (used start from EUR 3000, new are EUR 9 000 and up).
Solder paste printer is the second equipment you should buy after the reflow oven. We sell new manual stencil printers
We have few used semi automatic printers (price EUR 3000-5000) and full automatic printers (price EUR 15 000 for used, EUR 35 000 new)
Pick and place is the third machine you need to buy, many people think they should buy first but p&p machine is useless if you have no already reflow and printer. These may be small manual pick and place machines which assist human to place components, the advantage is they are low cost, the disadvantage is that humans do lot of mistakes, if the PCBs are small and have no many components, this approach is good and one employee can place as much as 1500 components per hour, but if the board have lot of components on many positions the productivity will decrease and in the morning boards may come perfect but afternoon when the eyes are already tired there may be lot of scrap boards. We can offer manual pick and place machines starting from EUR 1500, few full automatic used machines costing EUR 5000-10 000. We can also offer you new modern, high speed SMT pick and place machines from Samsung at very competitive prices lower than official dealer prices. For these machines we can offer also installation, training, spare components, service.
AOI (automatic optical inspection) machine is necessary when you have volume production and want to have top quality. This machine will make sure all your boards are assembled with no errors.
Conveyors are at least they speed up the board transfer between the different machines.
What Equipment Do I need?
Many people hesitate what equipment to buy. The general rule is: the faster is the equipment the lower is the cost of the assembly per component, but the required initial investment is higher. Something you should consider is that the appetite comes with the eating, i.e. whatever equipment you buy soon it will be slow for you and you will need more capacity, this is normal as when you have the machine you can get more work which you had earlier to turn away as you have no capacity for it. So our advice is always look forward and get the fastest equipment which you can afford at the moment, even if you do not need it immediately, you will need in in very near future and your cost of the assembly will be low.
Usually the speed of the machine is measured with components per hour placement rate or CPH.
Do not be fooled by the SMT pick and place machine manufacturers CPH speed numbers. This components per hour figures are in the most perfect situation - usually the machines take one component from feeder which is placed closest location on the PCB and this component is placed on the PCB on the nearest to feeder location, you will never have such PCB for assembly and you will never reach these speeds, also these figures do not take into account the PCB loading and unloading time (few seconds) and the feeder re-load delay. In normal PCBs these speed figures are 2-3 times lower so you actually will achieve about 30% of the speed with complex boards with high mix of components and up to 50-60% in simple boards like LED lamps where you place same LEDs on one big PCBs.
For instance our first P&P Autotronik BS391V1-V machine has "4000 cph IPC" but dividing the number of hours worked by the components placed in long run for several years the real number is between 1200 and 1500 cph.
One of our newest and fastest SONY SI-G200 Pick and Place machine is rated 55 000 cph but the real speed in long run is about 30 000 cph. This is not slow at all the biggest bottleneck with this machine is that if you put reel of 10 000 pcs capacitors on feeder it uses it for few minutes of work and on every 5-10 minutes the machine stops as you have to re-load the feeder with new reel.
Too bad SONY stopped SMT machine manufacturing as this is so far one of the fastest and best machine we've seen, although it's pain in the ass to program it and it have it's odds, once you get used to it you love it. Fact is that you will not find anywhere used SONY machines for sale and this speaks a lot ;)
Used Equipment we have for sale
During the years we got some SMT assembly equipment which we do not use anymore as we upgraded to newer faster and more efficient assembly machines.
These are sitting now in the corner collecting dust, but if one wants to establish small SMT production we can sell this old equipment at very good prices, so he could start SMT production on budged.
Here below is list of what we have for sale, if one needs more info I can send pictures, info and pricing:
- Philips CSM84 pick and place machines 3 pcs and about 100 pcs 8mm feeders for these and complete documentation and service manuals, we bought these on auction many years ago but never used them really
- Contact System 3 pick and place machine 1 pce and about 50 pcs different feeders for it, the machine came to us with manuals and books, this machine we also bought on auction and never used in practice.
- Autotronik-BS391V1-V pick and place machines 2 pcs, these are our first real pick and place machines, we bought them brand new and they are still used for small series, the advantage is that they are easy to program and to maintain, the disadvantage is that they are slow
- Placement area: 660 x 365 (LxW) mm
- Placement speed: up to 4000 cph (IPC9850)
- Vision on the fly system with one incorporated camera for alignment of components from 0201 up to 16x14 mm
- Upward Vision System for alignment of larger components up to 38x38 mm ICs, 0.5 mm pitch
- Built-in Camera System with auto Fiducial Mark Learning
- Maximum 160 8 mm feeder positions (without conveyor). With conveyor – up to 96 8 mm feeder positions
- Two Feeder Racks, each one for up to 48 8 mm feeders
- Smart Feeder ID Function for fast set-up and easy operation
- PC with TFT monitor
- Windows Operating Software
- KFTA-08 – 8mm Smart Tape Feeder (4mm pitch) 80 pcs
- KFTA-08HS – 8mm Smart Tape Feeder (2mm pitch, for 0201 and 0402 components) 3 pcs
- KFTA-12E – 12mm Smart Tape Feeder 8
- KFTA-16E – 16mm Smart Tape Feeder 8
- KFTA-24E – 24mm Smart Tape Feeder 5
- KFTB-4 Universal Vibratory Stick Feeder with 20 slots (for maximum 20 sticks, each one 8mm in width)
- Semi automatic printer EKRA with documentation
- Semi automatic printer EKRA with no documentation
- Reflow conveyor oven IR TWS-1000 monophase power supply 4.5kW install power, 1.5kW operating power
- Reflow oven Dima Scirroco 11 zone three phase hot air 20kW insall power, 6kW operating power
- Reflow Oven Ersa Hotflow3 3 zone three phase hot air 12kW install power 4kW operating power
- Reflow oven Quattropeak reflow oven 48kW install power, 8kW operating power
- Wave soldering machine with finger conveyor monophase, 5kW install, 2kW operating power
- Line loaders with cassettes
- Line unloaders with cassettes
- Inspection conveyors 1m with lighting