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85K grant. How best to use?

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#75757

85K grant. How best to use? | 20 May, 2016

Hello,

We are about receive an 85.000 USD award grant towards purchasing manufacturing or testing equipment for our company. We are trying to figure out how to best use this grant.

Here are short facts about us: We are a design house, so all our manufacturing is currently outsourced. To give you an idea of our output: for 2016, we will have about 15 different designs produced. 10 of these will be new designs, and will be produced in qtys of 30 to 50. 5 of the designs are validated already and will be produced in quantities of 400-1500 each. A total of 7000 boards will be delivered to customers in 2016. Most boards are "complex": A quick survey shows our most common boards have about 50-140 unique and a total of 250-600 components. Most of the passives are 0402 size. Most boards have at least 5-6 BGA devices (0.5 to 1mm pitch FPGA, DDR, Processors etc) and a few QFNs.

Our current pain points:

- We wait for what we think an unreasonable time to get an open "slot" in our assembly partners' factories. If we could get at least the prototypes built in-house, it would be great.

- Testing!: We currently only do functional testing. For a long while, we thought our volumes are not enough to invest in any other testing systems.

- Rework: Especially for initial prototypes, sometimes there is a lot of rework that needs to be done during bring-up. For complex rework, we send the board out to the assembly house, so we lose a lot of time.

Our thoughts on how the money can be invested:

- Basic pick and place setup : Perhaps a manual or semi automatic stencil printer, a "basic" PnP machine (Dima ATOZ pp-050 or Essemtec Lynx/Fox) with enough feeders, and a basic reflow oven.

- Invest in even more basic production setup: A dispenser, a table-top reflow oven, etc.

- Invest in quality rework equipment.

- Keep all production outside of our company, instead, invest in testing systems: ICT, JTAG, etc.

I'd love to hear about what you think how to money should be spent.

Thank you,

Please note:

- No used equipment purchases are allowed for this grant.

- 85K figure is just the grant amount, we can obviously invest more if we can justify the ROI.

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Tom

#75761

85K grant. How best to use? | 20 May, 2016

Unless your products are rather simple or throughput is not a major concern, you are going to have a hard time finding all of that equipment on that budget without considering used equipment. A low-end pick and place machine will consume that entire amount and leave you with much to be desired from the machine. You're pretty much left with only Chinese options like SMTMax, etc. which are geared more towards prototyping volumes.

What type of grant is it and how did you get awarded it?

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#75767

85K grant. How best to use? | 24 May, 2016

It seems a remarkable coup to have been awarded a grant without already having specified exactly why you want it, what you are going to spend it on and how it will benefit your business and the local area.

I had an email about the Fox just the other day, it pretty much costs $85k USD before you add feeders, about the same as the bigger faster Paraquda. This kind of figure is around about where many pick and place machines start before you add feeders, on which you will spend at least as much again. Your overall volumes are not that high, that suggests fewer than 3.5M components placed in 2016, pretty much any production line you come up with can manage that (not even 2k cph), to me that means you either buy to produce or you look at other areas.

To my mind 50-140 unique lines is a high number, typically machines capacity is given as the maximum number of 8mm lanes (slots) it offers, depending on the manufacturer larger lane sizes will then use multiple slots. In some cases they will use more than you might think. Typical generic machines are often 60 lanes front and back. Now your BGAs need a tray each, so add a tray changer, say goodbye to 30 slots (not always, I think Dima uses 6 slots and Samsung cunningly fits theirs on the end). Anyhow you swiftly need at least two generic machines to fit that many parts on at once. Or a Europlacer IINEO which has lots of lanes and space for 7 trays, a fully loaded one of those could well be knocking on $400k(haggling and finer points of config depending). The rest of the line could well be much more basic, Chinese reflow ovens start at $15k for something perfectly sensible (support maybe not great), and you can get perfectly good prints with a $5k manual printer. Of course now you have to cover all the logistics of buying, storing, managing and handling all that inventory.

I would suggest super basic in house production was a bad idea, fault finding a new product only to find the problem is down to being manufactured poorly or with basic errors can only be very frustrating. The likelihood of someone manually fitting 600 small parts 100% on a dense PCB is slim and I pity their eyes and shoulders hunched over the bench doing it.

Testing equipment could well be a nice addition, especially if your production house can't offer that facility to you.

Rework is also a nice thing to have, and could work well in tandem with your test equipment to quickly diagnose and repair boards with problems. I would suggest you look at as many as possible and insist they are demonstrated on your products solving issues you know you encounter. Regarding your production delays, it could also be worth checking whether your designs are contributing to the delay, perhaps they require a specific line to be free. Can the designs be simplified by reducing the BOM line count. Are you getting the manufacturer to source the parts, are those parts readily available, did you give them all the information they needed to identify and purchase the correct parts?

If you supply them, are you making sure it is clear which parts are which, are they packaged properly for production? You could even ask them for a list of the common parts they already use and stock and try to use them first and foremost, that way when they come to load your job they have less setup time.

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#75816

85K grant. How best to use? | 2 June, 2016

Hi,

if I were you, I would probably go for testing and rework equipment. Adding manufacturing to your business, will most probably exceed your preliminary expectations. Manufacturing is much more complicated than you probably think. I have used manual/semi-automatic printers in the past and I can tell you that it is not fun. Together with the small reflow oven, your manufacturing capability and overall quality do not look very promising. You will also need a lot of people to support that. Purchasing, material handling and stock,production people,solderers, quality,repair and shipping.

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#75818

85K grant. How best to use? | 2 June, 2016

I have a number of machines sitting in the back room that I have been trying to sell. 8 Siemens (4 S15's and 4 F3's). A good start if you are interested; I also have an older Omniflo7 Oven as well as an old printer if your interested. All are older but still run. You could pick it all up for around $30K USD. We may have other things you need to get started.

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#75829

85K grant. How best to use? | 3 June, 2016

I had this long post typed up and then I re-read your post. No used equipment? Like others have said, your budget could could easily be swallowed up by 1 piece of equipment.

I would work with your Program Manager at your "assembly partner". You need to make them understand that if your part of the company fails, the whole company fails. If you do not have A Program Manager (or some such similar) at the assembly partner's facility then send someone there (on your payroll, but stationed at their facility). You need someone on your side championing your cause. "Squeaky wheel gets the greasing" as the saying goes.

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#75830

85K grant. How best to use? | 3 June, 2016

> I had this long post typed up and then I re-read > your post. No used equipment? Like others have ...

I wish you had posted your reply. Any feedback is welcome. As I said, we can pour more money into this if we can justify it. 85K grant is nice, but as many posters including you pointed out, it is not much for a modern production line.

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#75831

85K grant. How best to use? | 3 June, 2016

> Hi,
>
> if I were you, I would probably go for
> testing and rework equipment. Adding
> manufacturing to your business, will most
> probably exceed your preliminary expectations.
> Manufacturing is much more complicated than you
> probably think. I have used manual/semi-automatic
> printers in the past and I can tell you that it
> is not fun. Together with the small reflow oven,
> your manufacturing capability and overall quality
> do not look very promising. You will also need a
> lot of people to support that. Purchasing,
> material handling and stock,production
> people,solderers, quality,repair and shipping.

> Hi, > > if I were you, I would probably go for > testing and rework equipment. ...

This was meant as a reply to Evtimov above:

Thank you for your feedback. That is what we're leaning towards at the moment.

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#75832

85K grant. How best to use? | 3 June, 2016

Thank you for the great feedback. We're definitely taking all of these into consideration. Currently, we're shooting for the following:

- JTAG Testing setup

- Rework station

- A hot air rework station

- A quality microscope/vision system

Haven't decided on any brands yet. For the Rework, PDR appears to be a good fit.

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#75843

85K grant. How best to use? | 3 June, 2016

That looks like a good plan. It will give you the options to examine your product and perform some repairs and/or changes if needed. As a design house you will appreciate that. Good luck!

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