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July 2014 • SMT Magazine 73 4. What is an average blade life and how often should I change them? We seem to get a lot of blade questions. Blades are a key component to the print pro- cess. Through many conversations with cus- tomers and time on SMT lines, it has become apparent to me that blades are not getting the attention they should be. The right blade, when paired with a stencil in an application, can make the difference between a success- ful print and a print that needs substantial rework. That said, in general, standard OEM blades are sufficient for most print applications as long as they are changed and inspected for de- fects regularly. As a rule of thumb, an SMT line running 1.5–2 shifts, 5–6 days a week, with a couple of different blades or blade size chang- es during the course of a week, should have the blades changed every 3–4 months. At that point, the blades will have produced enough prints to dull the blade edge, which has prob- ably been nicked or dinged a couple of times already, but not severely enough to cause them to be replaced. Most OEM blades cost under $55 a set, and some companies can even arrange an automatic replacement program. The negative impact on your process and product that results from not changing the blades regularly certain- ly costs more than $55. In a future column, I will explore questions regarding the possible causes of poor printing results. SMT MoRE STENCIl QuESTIoNS (AND THE ANSWERS!) continues CoLUMn Rachel Miller-Short is global vP of sales at Photo Stencil LLC. To contact the author, or to read past columns, click here. CliCk To View Video Interview DEK's Clive Ashmore and Editor Kelly Dack explore the ways DEK handles automotive customers' challenges with device miniaturization, and why the lessons learned in the mobilephone segment don't necessarily translate into the automotive world. DEK Deals with Automotive Device Miniaturization by Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2014

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