Greetings! I run a small CM company in the Midwest. We built our business on THT production for the boutique music products industry and are currently planning our launch of a low-volume/high-mix SMT line to support the growth of our business.
Our goal is to pay around $120K for the entire line, stencil through reflow. From what I've read in the forums, buying new is recommended in order to establish the supplier relationship and gain training and support. At our price-point, however, Manncorp and Essemtec seem to be the only options.
Here's the trick: our first project out of the gate will require us to precisely place a 324-pin 0.80mm BGA, a 3mm x 3mm LGA, and passives down to 0201; I expect more of the same in the future. Super-fast throughput is not a requirement for us. Quality of the finished product is, along with easy setup and change-over, training and support.
Does the Essemtec Pantera or FLX2011, or the Manncorp MC series have what it takes to do the job for us? Any other recommendations? Thanks in advance...
The Manncorp machines are Autotronik machines re-branded. These are Chinese built while pretending to be German, they are seemingly capable enough and do come in at very attractive price points. The FLX from Essemtec is in many ways a slicker machine although I would have expected it to be slightly too expensive for your budget. In fact I would have thought the Pantera XV would be the one to look at. I would also look at the Dima ATOZ or even MP-100. I would also be tempted to suggest a batch vapor-phase reflow process - lots of control, small footprint. I have never used any of these machines, rather our company only recently completed the same process with similar criteria, in the event we increased the budget. The laws of diminishing returns do not seem to apply to SMT 30% more buys you 3 times the machine and its always a good idea to buy for tomorrow not today. Whatever you choose make sure you feel like&trust the company you are dealing with.
I currently use an Essemtec CSM7100V (I've used it for about 5 years), which will place 0.5mm pitch and 0402s. I bought this after selling a Manncorp machine (used it for about 3 years). Service from Essemtec (manufacturer) is MUCH different than Manncorp (distributor). The stories are too long to tell here in the forum, but I highly recommend Essemtec over Manncorp. Although I must admit that the new vision systems on the Manncorp machines is interesting.
I use a manual stencil printer, the LPKF ProtoPrint S, which can hold a 12" x 17" cast frame. Don't waste your time with a clam-shell style printer. A printer with auto-fiducial recognition would be better, of course, but for my purposes this printer is sufficient.
For my oven I use a small 3-zone+cooling Mistral 260. I have limited space and limited power which lead to this selection. I am happy with it's performance. I have also used batch ovens, but definitely prefer the convection conveyor type.
Wow! Thanks for the replies, everyone. Lots to digest. I'm going to take some time to do some research in these various directions and may have more questions. Thanks again for the recommendations and advice.
The Dima PnP machines look really nice -- exactly the size and capabilities we will need for the next 3-5 years. Apparently, however, they are supported in the US by Manncorp. I have nothing personally against Manncorp, but have heard bits here and there that suggest I look elsewhere. Training and support are pretty important for us. I have years of experience on the engineering side, but this is my first deep-dive into SMT assembly and we're going to need all the help we can get.
Which machines did you decide on after your investigative process and why? What are you presently using?
Good question and always fun to wade through all the issues.
We currently run an Essemtec FLX2010 and a Manncorp CR-6000 oven. Our printer is an Essemtec SP002 (I think) guided manual.
We have been running the Essemtec equipment for ~6 years and have had the oven for about 2 years.
In my opinion either the Essemtec or the Manncorp P&P will do the job for you. Essemtec has been pretty good to deal with, but then Manncorp has been OK too. The real thing you need to condsider is the oven and paste application. Both of these issues are going to be critical to your success. I would insist on a semi-auto printer with automatic fiducial recognition, do not settle for less or you will regret it. As for the oven the more zones the better. In my experience the Essemtec ovens are way over-priced for what they offer. While I like the guys at Essemtec I cannot recomend their ovens. Yes they will tell you what they can do, but really take a good look before you plunge into one. The Manncorp oven was very price competetive, has worked great, is well built, but it is loaded with Chinglish. The warning labels are Chinglish (Beware Press the Hands) and the manual is horrible, but for the price I do not think you can beat it.
I am in the process (very slow process) of trying to find a decent printer, so I have nothing to recomend. I would consider used, from a reputable broker, for this item.
I think you will find your budget is a bit low. That was our budget 6 years ago and we were not attempting BGA at that time.