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72 SMT Magazine • March 2015 by robert voigt DDM novASTAr SmT QUIck-TIPS how to Select an automatic Pick-and-Place machine This is the third in a series of articles de- signed to help buyers analyze and select SMT equipment for PCB assembly, and examines automatic pick-and-place machines, the most complex component in a circuit assembly oper- ation. Because of this complexity, the next few columns will address different functions in this process. Automatic pick-and-place machines are much more common than manual or semi- automatic machines, but they also have the greatest range of capabilities and cost. This col- umn will focus on features and capabilities and include some cautions regarding reliability of low-cost machines, including: • Production volume ranges (CPH) • Accuracy and repeatability specs • Pick-up and centering methods In future columns, I will address size, ma- chine accuracy, encoders, feeders and mechani- cal positioning methods. When starting your evaluation process, there are two defining factors to keep in mind, which determine what category fits your ma- chine needs. The No. 1 principal factor is com- ponents per hour (CPH), and the secondary fac- tor is machine capability. Production volume As in the previous column, it's constructive to start by addressing production ranges for var- ious types of machines, since this is the No. 1 factor in your evaluation process. For purposes of comparison, since all circuit boards vary in size and complexity, we talk about volumes in terms of components per hour, or CPH. The fol- lowing table offers a general guideline of ma- chine categories defined by their CPH. machine capabilities This is the second defining factor in helping choose the correct auto pick-and-place machine for your needs. Here, we will only be talking about two aspects of machine capability: accu- ColuMn Table 1.

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