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36 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2023 designed robotic movements. You reduce the need for extensive operator training and over- head, as it's faster to train the robot "operator" because it requires less skilled technical ability and a faster ramp-up. But how do you find the right one for your needs? While it may look simple, the hand-solder- ing process is a complicated orchestration of subtle hand movements carried out for each solder joint. ese movements are combined with constant visual observation and feedback from a highly skilled operator, thus your sol- dering robot must have several key features to replicate this demanding process. It must include 6-axis control: 1. e X and Y axes work together to move the soldering cartridge into position over your solder joints. On some systems, it will be a com- bination of both head and board holder move- ments to achieve this positioning. On others, it may be just the head. 2. e Z axis will be responsible for moving the soldering tip up and down to contact the solder joint. 3. eta (Q) will allow you to position the soldering cartridge around taller components or connectors to best reach the solder joints at the optimum position for proper reflow and solder via fill. 4. With the solder feeder, the responsibility is the proper and consistent movement of your solder into the solder joint. It also can pre-tin the soldering tip for better thermal conductiv- ity as well as flooding the soldering tip at the end of the cleaning cycle to protect soldering cartridge life while they sit idle between oper- ations. 5. Z2 is the independent control from the solder feeder assembly. Have you ever watched your most skilled soldering technicians move their soldering iron independent of the sol- der wire? is axis can be mission critical for the correct soldering of many solder joints, especially higher mass joints or stranded wire attachments. is can allow you to solder in very tight locations where only the soldering tip can fit, essentially transferring the solder loaded on the tip to a pre-fluxed location to the target solder joint. 6. Curie Point soldering cartridges provide the best heating technology for today's sol- dering robots. e fixed temperature and vari- able power provided by this technology pro- tects your board assemblies from over-heating and the near instantaneous thermal response ensures no cold solder joints. Controlling the Motion e best soldering robots utilize Windows- based systems that allow you to program your PCB using a friendly GUI (graphical user inter- face) that provides prompts for each step and ensures that all your parameters are met so you have a short downtime and fast changeovers. It prompts the engineer to load the board,

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