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84 SMT Magazine • September 2016 Let's say you have an unusual product con- figuration, a unique space requirement, an un- orthodox handling system, or an application totally unrelated to the PCB or SMT assembly business, and you can't find a standard machine provider that can handle your requirements. What then? Time for a custom machine! There are a handful (a very small handful, actually) of true manufacturers of assembly equipment that serve the low- to mid-range vol- ume users. If you want a standard stencil print- er, pick and place machine, reflow oven, wave or selective soldering machine, etc., you have dozens of firms to choose from. Most of them, however, are actually importers and/or resellers and have serious limitations on the kind of cus- tomization they can do. To begin, what kinds of challenges do companies run into that often require a custom solution? Here are a few I've seen in the recent past: • A company that required a reflow oven with a very long dwell time in the chamber, which would normally require a 40-foot tunnel, but needed to fit it into a footprint only six feet long. The solution was to design and build a ser- pentine conveyor within the length of a short tunnel that achieved the dwell time dictated by the process and footprint. • A user looking for a totally integrated in- line component placement process from a reel of blank substrate at the beginning to a fully populated reel at the end. The customer got a self-contained system that accurately attaches miniature medical devices onto a strip for seam- less downstream processing. • A custom pick and place application that selects a component, dips it into one or more by Robert Voigt DDM NOVASTAR INC. How to Specify a Custom Machine SMT QUICK-TIPS Figure 1: In-line paste-place-reflow system to mount parts from reel to reel.

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