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50 The PCB Magazine • March 2016 A Process of Continual Improvement In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the ad- vantages of adding flex laser processing to gain a competitive advantage. In Part 2 we will build on that discussion, looking at the ways you can optimize your flexible circuit laser processing to get the efficiencies that drive lower cost of ownership. When considering the cost associ- ated with adding FPC processing, where do you look, what should you expect, and how can you control or minimize those costs? Controlling Fixed costs Aside from the obvious system purchase price and its associated depreciation expense, there are a variety of other—and less signifi- cant—fixed costs to consider. These can include system installation and personnel training costs, costs to qualify the system prior to run- ning production, floor space allocation over- head allocation costs, as well as the costs related to upgrading facilities to meet the system's site requirements. We will discuss site preparation in Part 3. Typical areas to watch for in laser system site requirements include electrical, vacuum, com- pressed air, environmental air, as well as tem- perature and humidity. Neglecting any of these can result in poor product yield, scrap, or even damage to and downtime on your valuable UV laser system. Poor electrical power quality and sporadic brownouts and blackouts often can re- sult in unexpected system errors, yield issues, and scrap. Extending System Longevity Typical high-power UV lasers used for flex processing have lifespans ranging from 1–2 years, although those lifespans may be drawn out if the laser is not in 24/7 use or the laser powers used for processing are much lower than the system's work surface laser power specifica- by Mike Jennings and Patrick Riechel esi Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 2: Calculating and Optimizing Production feature Column: laser pointers 50 The PCB Magazine • March 2016

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