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Used equipment

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Used equipment | 1 May, 2007


Could someone please list to me the issues that are unique to used equipment? For example, what risks run when buying such machines? What things should be considered when buying used ones?

Perhaps I'm considering buying used printer and reflow oven as I have this intuitive thought that such equipment last longer and are much less technologically dependent... except when it comes to the newly arrived LeadFree issues....

For the pick and place I really think I should stick with a new one. Don't you guys think so too? These machines have many precise mechanical parts that with long intervals of usage would degrade their precision and benefits while increasing perhaps defects? Again, this is another intuitive thought.

Since our intended starting volume is low and since our main key for success would be turnaround time for the local market, I'm thinking of the following and I wish to hear your opinion about it: -> Acquire a fast dispensing machine that can deposit solder paste to keep a low volume pick and place machine working. This would save us two things: 1) Stencil delivery waiting period for customers who bring with them their PCBs fabricated in the local market. 2) The stencil cost for low volume products. This makes the cost of assembly more attractive to the locals.

There are people here that assemble SMD by hand for low volumes.. however, the quality is bad and that is why I'm thinking of this whole thing...

Can someone direct me to a good dispensing machine that 1) Can dispense solder for 0.5mm lead pitch ICs and 2)Comes with a software that can extract the solder paste dispense information from the CAD files?

If someone thinks that my thoughts are not practical or have some fundamental problems, then please let me know. For higher volumes we are planning on stencil printing.


Basem PS: Sorry for my earlier posts that started some unintended discussions, had no intentions to start anything unrelated, but perhaps there was some benefit shedding some light on real-life issues that are not usually projected in the R&D world of SMT. I think my world is fairly different and I apologize to bother you with it...

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Used equipment | 1 May, 2007


I can't direct you to a dispensing machine, as I'm not familiar with them. But, I can tell you what we do. We specialize in short volume, prototype quantity runs. Since prototypes and short quantities are not conducive to volume operations like stencil printing, we have not yet invested in a stencil printing machine. We hand print solder paste onto boards for these runs. We lay the stencil over the board, place solder paste on a paint scraper, and then pull the paste accross the stencil.

Our stencil supplier also will provide us un-framed stencils at a significant discount. This is difficult to deal with in production, but financially feasible for prototypes. No sense paying for a framed and final stencil when the likelihood of the board changing is pretty high.

As to new/used equipment, it is largely dependent on your budget. One thing to keep in mind with some capital equipment, though, is that support for third party machines may be minimal. That will be dependent on the manufacturer, however. I have an Heller reflow oven that I purchased from a third party, and Heller's support has been as good as if I had bought it direct from them. MyData, however, will not support a third-party machine until you register it with them (at additional charge). Teradyne does this as well with their test equipment. Each machine vendor will have their own policies regarding this. As a general rule, I've found that it is a good idea to go ahead and register the third party equipment in the long-term. Software updates, at the very least, make this a worthwhile evolution. I budget the registration cost into the my purchase requisition when buying a third party machine.

As to reliability of the machines...again, your mileage may vary. I have found that most of the equipment has at least a 10 year life-span. Regular maintenance can extend this. Picking up a used machine from a company that has gone out of business can be very economical; but one should never assume that the machine is 100% ready to go when delivered. Most of the major machinery manufacturers offer refurbishing/maintenance services; and I, personally, avail myself of those services when buying a third party machine.

cheers ..rob

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