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86 SMT Magazine • September 2016 materials at different stations, such as paste or epoxy, then accurately centers and mounts it on a substrate. An off-the-shelf pick and place machine was modified for this application with custom jaws and positioning software. This ex- ample also required two different reservoirs for a "double-dip" function. • A process to place multiple micro-chip la- sers onto a block to aggregate a high intensity beam into a single point for a steel laser cutting tool. Due to the accuracy required for this proj- ect, the pattern layout was critical. A machine was custom-engineered which included unique LED lighting configured to handle special gold plating. • Unique sequencing operations and pro- cesses for assembly machines conducting oper- ations on multiple stations that require custom software programming. In addition to putting an inline system together, one needs to make sure the programming can be customized also. An example of this was an assembly line that needed to dispense paste, inspect, accurately place the components, index through a cutter assembly, provide a feed control system over to an accumulation loop, input that feed into the reflow oven process with vision inspection of finished assembly. • Material handling systems with special line functionality, such as reverse feeding or a capa- bility to manage large or odd-shaped parts. One customer already had an inline system, that re- quired their new reflow oven to move right to left, in reverse of the norm. There are some worthwhile goals that might drive you to consider going to the trouble and expense of a non-standard machine, such as re- ducing labor and improving predictable qual- ity by integrating multiple processes together and reducing dependence on non-skilled labor. While the upfront investment will be consid- erably higher than that of a standard machine, the ROI—depending on the application and volume—could be short and significant. So, how do you look for a custom machine manufacturer that has sufficient experience in HOW TO SPECIFY A CUSTOM MACHINE Figure 2: Custom pick-and-place system.

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