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48 PCB007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2022 Considering automating your PCB fabrica- tion line? If you are, then you may have con- cerns about what it takes to implement new automation technology. e good news is that setting up your processing lines for automa- tion is simpler than you may think. Whether you are obtaining new equipment, or you want to automate a machine that you've been work- ing with for years, auto- mating it can be as sim- ple as tightening a few bolts and wiring a couple connections. Automating your pro- cess lines is now easier than ever thanks to low- cost, user-configurable robot arms. Since most of the processes from the beginning to the end of PCB manufacturing are already automated (at least in wet processing), the only areas le open for automation are the loading and unloading sections. In most cases, people are employed to stand at the ends of the machines loading and unloading material throughout production. As you can imagine, this is not very cost effective because oen these people could be perform- ing more important, specialized tasks. By using low-cost, user-configurable robots at the load- ing and unloading ends of a process (loader bots), you open opportunities for your PCB production to improve. First and foremost, you will reduce the cost per panel thus increas- ing your profit margins (Table 1 and Figure 1). How to Automate Your Wet Processes The Chemical Connection Feature Column by Christopher Bonsell, CHEMCUT Table 1: Cost estimations and parameters for comparison of loader options. Figure 1: Cost comparison between running a PCB manufacturing process with two employees vs. two bots and one employee (the single employee is for machine maintenance). Data comes from Table 1, with the assumption of equal production volume. Graph shows the long-term cost of loader bots will be less than utilizing employees for loading/unloading purposes.

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