SMT, PCB Electronics Industry News

Automatic SMD ion of Silicone Keys

Nov 12, 2008

The new types of SMD silicone keys from Abatek offer manufacturers and developers new scopes for design, cut prototype costs and reduce development time. Within seven days, Abatek delivers prototypes with customer-specific features, which are picked, placed and soldered in the reflow oven with other SMD components in a highly flexible Essemtec pick-and-place machine.

The silicone keys do not differ in function from known silicone keypads. The tactile feeling is the same, the lighting can be integrated into the key, and the stroke and height of the key also can be adjusted to the production requirements. The favourable differences are reduced time for acquisition, higher flexibility during product design and the possibility of fully automatic assembling with a SMD pick-and-place machine.

Abatek can manufacture SMD silicone keys within a few days with features that correspond to customers' guidelines. The height of the keys, the stroke, the actuation force, the colour and the type of the contact pills are some examples of the parameters to choose. More than 1 million combinations are actually possible. The keys also can be fitted with an additional capacitive switching function.

Essemtec, the Swiss manufacturer of highly flexible production systems for electronics, has optimized pick-and-place machines for the processing of Abatek's new silicone keys. Now the automatic ion of all entry key types at all pick-and-place systems of the FLX-, CSM- and Pantera-series is possible. Tape feeders with enough pocket depth are deliverable as standard and flexible tape strip feeders are available for prototyping.

The maximum height of the components of the above-mentioned machines is 15 mm and the clearance zone below the printed board at up to 40 mm. Thus, providing enough space to silicone keys on the front and rear side of a PCB. The keys themselves resist the solder temperature smoothly, even at several carryouts.

The silicone keys are processed with a specially developed vacuum tool that picks up the entry keys safely from the belt or the pallet and places them exactly at the printed board or flex board. Essemtec's vacuum tool can be used for all types of Abatek's prototypes. For example, keys with different heights can be placed with the same tool on the same product. If necessary, however, Essemtec is able to adjust the vacuum tool to meet specific customer needs.

The keys are measured by the quick laser centering of the pick-and-place machines �on the fly� and ed with the same precision as other SMD components. Therefore, Abatek's new keys do not only offer cost and time advantages in the product development and fabrication of prototypes, but also enable new concepts for manufacturing for the series. Until now the control mats had to be assembled mostly by hand; however, the SMD keys can be processed fully automatic.

Abatek International AG (public limited company) serves its customers worldwide with its own branches and productions in Europe, America and Asia. Abatek employs more than 700 employees and ranks among the most creative and most research-intensive enterprises in this field with innovations as the SC-technology, the SMT line, the prototyping programme and the topical capacitive system. Well-known component suppliers for the automotive industry in Asia, Europe and the USA develop and manufacture keypads and input solutions with Abatek.

Caption: At SMD pick & place machines of Essemtec SMD pick-and-place machines now can be equipped automatically using Abatek's unique silicone keys.

Essemtec is a worldwide leader in the manufacturer of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) production equipment. Essemtec specializes in high mix production equipment for Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) using Surface Mount Technology.

Essemtec is the only manufacturer to cover the entire production process, from Printers and/or Dispensers, to Pick-and-Place and Soldering equipment. Therefore, customers benefit from unparallel knowledge and the ability to select, from a single source, a complete process solution to meet their requirements.

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