How to select best SMT Pick and Place Machine


In the market place there are a lot of different placement equipment’s options are available. To meet customer expectations and latest technology requirements machine manufacturers are constantly upgrading their features. So it is very important get answer of to How to select best SMT pick and place Machine

Placement equipment’s are the most important part of SMT line configuration. Almost 50% cost of total investment needs to require to purchase pick and place machine with feeders to setup a surface mount production lines.

How to select best SMT Pick and Place Machine

Evolution and selection of a pick and place machine is a very complex process that needs to do a lot of investigation and home work to meet your production requirements. Selection of machine depends on your PCBA types and number of parts to be placed, production volume needs for current and future enchantments and accuracy with repeatability.

If you are planning to setup a new Surface-mount technology production line it is recommended to make a detailed set of questionnaire of planned production requirements. This will help to narrow down your list and help to make a purchase decision for best fitted suitable equipment selection to meet your specific needs.

Also Read- Global Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Equipment Industry

Placement Speed

The speed of component have direct impact on your production volume. The placement speed of machine measured in component per hour placement (CPH).

Component placement rate impacted by the board size, types of components and feeders used. If the board size is higher and types of components are high the placement head will travel more distance due to that placement rate will decreased.

The manufactures of pick and place machines rated their equipment speed based on IPC 9830 standard. But in real production scenario manufactures quoted speed de-rated by 30 to 40% that needs to be considered.So before selecting suitable placement machine you must consider the production volume to cater your current needs and also important to consider future requirements to meet specific needs.

Type and size of components

Considering your production needs selection of equipment also depend upon the type and size of components you are planning to place. Each machine have their limitations for handling the max min size and weight of component according to machine specifications.For example equipment needed to place 0805, 1206 etc. loaded components are different that can handle 0402, 0603, BGA, CSP and other odd shaped components.

So the selection of machine criteria will be based to handle different components parts needs and to place accurately on board proper vision aliment for cantering and inspection of larger components sizes. Depending upon the production volumes it is wiseable to invest 2 placement machines in SMT line to meet capacity for different components types.

Feeder slots and maximum feeder capacity

The equipment manufactures benchmark the feeder slot capacity based on 8mm types tape feeders. But in actual scenario larger components in tape and reel and parts supplied sticks tubes occupy multiples of 8mm feeder slots.The comports supplied in bulk and waffle packs affects input slots requirements directly.

While conducting in-house study it is important to take in account that how many types and number of components needs in product assembly and accordingly no of feeder slots machine must have for specific needs.

Accuracy and Repeatability

As per experts recommendations the accuracy of pick and place that you are searching having an accuracy of +/-.001” with a fine pitch lead of 12 mil repeatability.However less expensive machine would not give such accuracy criteria.

Solder Paste and adhesive dispensing capability

Many pick and place machines suppliers offering option that can place components and dispense solder paste or glue with common XY table.

For lower volume production, building prototypes or PCB assembly in which do not want to invest for dedicated stencil or foil can advised to purchase a placement machine with dispending capability.

But the selection decision must be based on the production volume requirements as same head needs to use both operations that slower down the through put.

Machine software programming 

Different machines available in market place having different software interfaces. Some of them are easy to operate and user-friendly but some required more time in manual data entry difficult in editing and optimisations.So it is an important selection criteria that equipment must be easy to program and edit to setup time reduction and improving performance. 

Vendor support and training

Apart from technical features, vendor support and training also plays a very critical role in machine selection. In case of equipment is down will you able to get support to trouble shoot machine quickly to meet supply chain requirements.

Suppler must have a skilled manpower, availability of spare parts shipment on timely basis, support to trouble shoot machine on phone calls and if required service engines can available on very short notice.

It is better idea to talk several customers having base of equipment’s that you are searching and try to get information how they are happy with machines, venders and there product support.

Skilled manpower is key of any organisation success so proper training required to develop skill to operate machines. So keep in mind that the machine supplier having ability of onsite training or factoring before equipment shipment and installation on shop floor.

Further reading


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