SMT007 Magazine

SMT-Mar2014

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March 2014 • SMT Magazine 109 8. When can I get my stencil? That's usually the first question we're asked. The trend of shrinking lead times directly affects the available manufacturing time for everything from bare boards to the stencils and everything in between. With the advent of laser-cut nickel blanks the industry now has a high-performance solu- tion that can be shipped out as a same-day stencil. If your application requires an electroformed stencil, it still has to be "grown," and it takes longer to fabricate due to the process involved. While not all stencils require a same-day or 24-hour turn- around, the percentage of customers who want quick- turn fabrication is definitely growing. Fortunately, most stencil providers have been able to increase through- put capacity as well as make adjustments in logistics to accommodate custom- ers. Of course, if you need it shipped overnight, that op- tion is always available, but this has a large impact on lead time and the overall cost. Overnight shipping is expen- sive, no matter where the supplier is located. 9. how important are design standards? IPC's stencil design guidelines are, in many cases, the fundamental basis of companies' design guidelines. The design can affect the stencil's performance in countless ways, both positive and negative. It can even influence the life of a stencil, so it's advantageous to use standards that have been shown to provide the best results. Most large multiple-site stencil us- ers have design standards which are used across the board at all of their locations. Companies that get this right enjoy design and print suc- cess coupled with reduced rework and printing challenges. If your company is not following a design standard, start by looking at your key defects and evaluating what improvements can be made. Once those are identified and tested, they should become part of your design guide- lines. 10. What, I need a special blade? This question has to do with the importance of the blade in the printing process. As we discussed in the June 2013 Short Scoop, blades are not as simple as they sound. There are multiple technolo- gies available, from ultra- robust hard blades to fairly soft 100% nickel blades. Each of these blade types is geared for a particular appli- cation. The right blade type and the quality of the blade play large roles in the suc- cess or lack thereof in stencil printing. An old worn-out blade with dings on the edge can cause printing defects as well as damage to the sten- cil. Many customers forget to look at blade types and the quality of their blade, and they overlook an easy oppor- tunity to improve their print process and save the company time and money. As always, your stencil manufacturer is there to provide the best product for your par- ticular application. While some questions are fairly general, the subtlety of your design needs should be addressed when you initiate a new design. SmT a ShorT SCoop 10 cOmmON STENcIL QUESTIONS continues Fortunately, most stencil providers have been able to increase throughput capacity as well as make adjustments in logistics to accommodate customers. Of course, if you need it shipped over- night, that option is always available, but this has a large impact on lead time and the overall cost. Overnight shipping is ex- pensive, no matter where the supplier is located. " " rachel Short is vice president of sales and marketing at Photo Stencil llC. To read past col- umns, or to contact the colum- nist, click here.

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