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74 SMT Magazine • January 2016 by robert Voigt DDM noVASTAr SMT QuICk TIPS Selecting a Wave Soldering System, Part 3 ColuMn In the last column, we discussed the attri- butes of the various types of wave solder sys- tems, the most common through-hole assem- bly system for small- to mid-volume operations. In this chapter, we will dive a little deeper and address board handling techniques. For wave soldering, there are three common methods of running boards: 1. Automated in-line system 2. Manual conveyor system 3. Palletized carrier system automated In-line System This arrangement is usually tied in to a to- tal PC board assembly line, where the conveyor simply moves assembled boards from the as- sembly stage through the wave solder machine and on to cleaning, finishing and other second- ary operations. There is no manual interference at the solder machine; it's a totally hands-off operation from beginning to end. Wave machines that run this way are usu- ally very expensive and are used in high-vol- ume repetitive operations. The Surface Mount Equipment Manufacturers Association (SME- MA) defines uniform specifications for in-line systems to assure that all the operations in an assembly environment transfer boards seam- lessly from one machine to another, regardless of the manufacturer, machine model, etc. • Pros: very efficient; reduces or virtually eliminates handling and manual labor • Cons: very expensive; usually out of reach of low- to mid-volume contract assembly shops • Typical cost range: often in excess of $100,000 figure 1: finger conveyor.

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