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Printed Circuit Board Assembly & PCB Design Forum

SMT electronics assembly manufacturing forum.

Questions about equipment

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Questions about equipment | 7 November, 2007

We are looking into what equipment would be necessary assemble circuit boards. We will most likely purchase a circuit board and use a pick and place machine to populate the board, and then send through a reflow oven. Then inspect the boards and assemble them in to an enclosure. The product would then be EVM tested. For the most part, there has been very little electronic assembly done at our company, and we have no experience with the manufacturing practices and are not sure which brands of equipment or equipment feature we need to fit our needs. The information I have so far is that the boards have around 100 components, are about 5� x 7� in size , and use mainly SMD.

Rick Keck

Lab Technician / Drafter

Ph: 816-233-6121 Ext: 2324

Gray Manufacturing Company, Inc.

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Questions about equipment | 7 November, 2007

Aside from answering the obligatory "why on earth would you want to do this yourself?) pitches, you need to tell us more about what kind of packages (component body types....0201, 0805, QFP, BGA) are going on to the board, how many you plan on building per day, and maybe a little about the application.

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Questions about equipment | 7 November, 2007

Hi Rick,

What kind of budget are you looking at?

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Questions about equipment | 7 November, 2007

For a modest invest of capitol equipment and maybe some hair pulling to learn the process it shouldn't be terribly difficult to get your own production line up and running.

You just missed a few trade shows that you could have went to and seen all the various machine makers and suppliers all in one building. The next trade show will be in Vegas in April, unless you want to go to Germany next week to see a really huge trade show.

What I would recommend you doing is to have your first few batches of boards built by a local contract manufacturer and you go there and watch their process. Not to copy them, but to at least see the overall process involved and you will then see if it is something you want to bite into on your own.

Companies that are contract manufacturers can build as little as 1 board and on up to thousands of boards in a batch. They can build the boards only for you and you build the rest of the assembly, or they may be able to build everything for your assembly.

If you are talking a low volume of boards, then you may find it cheaper and easier to have them made by someone else. I am sure there are some companies in Kansas City or St. Louis that can build some boards for you.

Once you are sure you want to get your own equipment, then you can try and decide what manufacturers would be best. And to be honest, if your boards are not very complicated just about any supplier of equipment will be able to do it. It will more likely boil down to who has machines in your budget and whose is easiest to use/program. Do you have a budget in mind?

For SMT equipment, you will need at the barest of minimums a screen printer, pick-n-place and reflow. For the thru-hole parts, you may be able to get by with hand soldering the boards. It all depends on your volume of boards and volume of non-SMT parts per board. Solder wave machines are pretty inexpensive, so forgo the hand soldering for a machine to do it for you.

Then you can go crazy on equipment and get inpestion equipment, board loader/unloader handlers, conveyors for board transport between machines and other equipment that make life easier for production.

Again it all boils down to budget and your desire to really dive in and get your feet wet.

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Questions about equipment | 7 November, 2007

OH! He he, St. Louis! I have recently acquired a very good P&P machine, and am in the St. Louis area. I got the machine primarily for my own manufacturing, but there is plenty of time available on the machine. If you'd like to see how the process is done, talk about the details and pitfalls, or maybe have some smaller runs done, give me a call at 314-965-5523.

I'd be glad to show you my machine and processes. There are so many things that can go astray, unless this is going to be a fairly high volume you will be running, it may not make sense to acquire and maintain the expertise, the test/inspection gear, and maintain the machine. I'm doing it all myself, maybe because I'm one of those "control freaks", maybe because my volume is so small most contract assemblers would take me to the cleaners on the setup charges for such small batches, and also partly because I got a STEAL on a really decent machine, and I'm not TOO afraid of maintaining it myself.


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