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100 SMT Magazine • March 2014 by Eric klaver aSSeMbléon SmT TrENDS & TEchNOLOGIES coluMn What is Your real Output? How should you define your output? High- est area productivity, lab speed, actual speed, optimum speed, IPC speed or maximum speed? And is it speed or throughput we should be looking at? Neither is clearly defined, and we all have our rules of thumb (e.g., actual speed is 60% of IPC speed, which is 60% of maximum speed). Currently, there is only one standard rep- resenting a fair comparison between pick-and place equipment: IPC-9850. It measures equip- ment speed (providing that components are placed within the specified accuracy of the equipment itself). IPC established IPC-9850 in 2002, defining the measurement procedures for specifying, evaluating and verifying surface mount placement equipment. With machine manufacturers producing a wide range of accu- racies and outputs, it details how measurements must be made consistently, and is therefore the only real way to compare them. It has become a basic industry reference, but unfortunately doesn't tell the whole story. Several pick-and- place machine manufacturers, for example, cur- rently claim the industry's fastest placement speeds on the basis of the IPC reference speed. One key difference lies between the IPC- 9850 speed and the actual speed you will reach in a particular application. And that is where IPC-9850 falls short. For this reason, IPC published an updated version in January 2012: IPC-9850A. Since the release of this update, it has been adopted by… practically nobody. Admittedly, the new stan- dard is far from perfect, as applications are usu- ally still more complex than even it allows for. It is a step closer to the truth, though. Why have so few adopted it? Why do most manufacturers avoid publishing the results? It seems that this minor change in specification degrades output results so drastically that it is commercially too sensitive.

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