We're in the market for a new depaneling router for high volume flex circuit builds. I have no experience with them. At this time, we do all our low volume stuff on a 3-axis mill. Any advice on what to consider and some recommendations of the best machines to read up on?
Several methods are available for singulating or extricating individual flexible circuits from a processed panel; this discussion of the topic applies to all types of flexible circuits. In general, the methods for singulating flex circuits can be branched along two main lines: dynamic, vectorbased cutting methods, represented by routers, lasers, water jet cutters and numerically controlled blade cutters, and punching methods, which include Class-A tools, steel rule dies and a �new� category of etched cutting dies. The choice of which technology to use is often a trade-off where convenience, tolerance requirements, and product volume must be factored into the equation. [Flexible Circuit Technology; Fjelstad, J; BR Publishing 3e 2007 ]
For those wanting to fill-out their basic understanding of flexible circuits, there's a pdf version of Joe Fjelstad's 3rd edition of "Flexible Circuit Technology" is available for download here: http://www.flexiblecircuittechnology.com/
There are different options for de-paneling routers. There are two basic types, in-line and stand-alone. Do you need in-line for high volume? The stand-alone systems have manual insertion trays, one or two trays.
Also, after de-paneling or laser marking, dust removal is required. One company, Eunil, makes a small in-line waterless dust remover that uses ionizers and vacuum to remove particles. See http://eunil-ha.com/
After service an important issue that you should not overlook. I can link you up if you would like a quote.