Topaz and Eclipse II are nice machines with laser centering and all that. Still there is a market for this kinda thing...
The prices start from 9,850 EURO, they have the dispenser option as well and they sent me the software demo, light years more advanced than Madell's if judging by the ease of use and user interface. I found about them much later unfortunately.
This is not a recommandation, I have no experience with this company, but everything looks more serious.
What I do blaim is the fact that they sent me the PX3700 user manual when I asked for details, saying that the software is the same, which indeed is.
But the PX3700 has a step motor on Z while the SX has a pneumatic actuator/plunger (this is what I got originally). Also the machine in the manual is shown with Fuji pneumatic feeders while the SX arrived with the lead weight "invention" and feeders that were good for paper tape only. I had to mill myself extra feedres for plastic tapes.
OK, some calibration is always acceptable, but here is what happened:
They suggested to buy the computer for extra $600 claiming that this way they can make all calibration and settings making the machine "plug&play".
I can say that no calibration was made, even the basic "home" initialization resulted in an error. The nozzle changer location was also not calibrated, the head crushed into the nozzle changer for a beginning, later I found that #5-6 were installed out of machine's limits and the same with some "feeders" installed on the right side (by them).
This was just a little about the "learning curve", but here I had to deal with solving problems, not learning. I only try to think what somebody with no repair experience would do - send the machine back (shipping it costed about $1500)? call a technician from Madell (and as you see I am very far away from US)? This is really not something you expect when buying new equipment.
What happened after that is a long story of mafunctions, wrong assembly issues, software bugs and you name it. I "played" with the machine and my nerves for almost 5 months until I decided to leave it and buy a used machine.
Now, thinking logically, while scanning the computer the NOD32 found about 12 viruses/trojans and removed them. After that the file exchange between the machine's computer and my computer was clean.
If this was a reverse engineering protection algorithm, how was it so easily removed by the antivirus?
The stepper got quite hot after short use, and after about 100 up/down cycles it started to touch the PCB and if continued it presses it until something bends. Madell didn't believe me at the beginning, later they simulated the problem in their machine and found the driver they used in my machine was causing the problem. I suggested until they find the solution to make for me a software change where the stepper will raise each time up to the optical switch and there it will be reseted for every cycle.
They made this change and temporarly the problem was solved, until they found a driver that works. Of course, making a 400 dots PCB took about 20 minutes, but who's counting.
This is when I found that the frame is not leveled. The dispenser's needle height at one of the corners was too low, almost touching the PCB if zero was set in another corner or center. I should mention that the PCB was quite small and I used a proper support. I disassembled the adjustable slide of the frame and found that in the opposite end they placed a small spacer, a piece of metal ugly grinded and not straight. I made all measurements, made a new spacer and leveled the frame. A bad manufacturing/improvisation and absolutely not a shipping issue.
After a while the new stepper driver arrived, with no instructions how to replace it and of course very different from the old one. I downloaded the driver's manual from the manufacturer's web site, had to calculate the right current limit resistor, find a 5V line which this driver needed and in plain words, had to figure how to replace the old one myself, as they were unable to help. Quite an aftersale service, isn't it?
Months later the saga started again, when they sent me an upgrade "kit" allowing to use the dispenser's Z stepper for pnp, cancelling the pneumatic system. I will not write about this story that took weeks to accomplish.
About the changes of the machine, what I got is still in their web site, the machine with the optional stand. Yes, I see they make blue annodizing - if I ever send you a copy of my first email I sent them you will see that I complaied about the overall finish of the SX, except for a decent annodizing also the aluminum profiles which looked as they were cut with a chainsaw.
The Eclipse, maybe old, but works great (exactly as expected from a 10 years old Mercedes) I never needed any service for it so far, parts are available anywhere and it took several hours only to assemble the first PCB.
I work with large parts, 0805 is the smallest among passives but it assembles with no problem odd QFNs. I had the same requirement from the SX, I didn't expected more. A friend of mine travelled all the way to Madell and they were unable to install 0201 as they claimed - he decided to cancel the order, never got his down payment back and he also purchased an used Philips, I think a Topaz.
Last edited by emvali; 07-13-2010 at 02:16 AM.
Topaz and Eclipse II are nice machines with laser centering and all that. Still there is a market for this kinda thing...
However, the syringe worked fine and the solder paste specialists don't like the auger for several reasons. For most my applications I use the time/pressure option.
But what Madell are doing is they release an unfinished product (in this case claiming to be able to place 0201), assembled by request and then use the customers as guinea pigs for experiments and debugging. As I posted somewhere in the past, usually people should get paid for this, and not pay for being into this experiment.
Anyway, they had a major problem with the SX feeders, partially solved using my suggestions:
The part is advanced by a pneumatic plunger that goes down and pulls the empty part of the tape. This plunger is practically a 1/4" bolt with the head removed then grinded and attached to a pneumatic actuator.
The tape is inserted in the feeder, which is a simple slot with 2 covers. after it passes the first cover the removable tape is pulled back and the fishing weight clipped to it. The uncovered part passes the second cover and goes in the machine. On it's way it passes another aluminum surface, this is where the plunger hits the tape and pulls it. As the distance between the covers is fixed, several small parts are often uncovered and exposed. They use a separate surface for the plunger in order not to cause the exposed parts to jump or flip, this is what they explained. But a pneumatic actuator is strong, the plunger hits the tape seriously and this separation is good up to a certain point. After all, both supporting rails are bolted to the same aluminum frame and the shock passes, specially with small parts such as 0402 or 0201 which are light and because of their size several are exposed.
By the way, any "normal" feeder has adjustment for the pitch and the part is exposed only short time before being picked by the head.
Now to the second problem.
The software (maybe since then it was changed) is using step units, not metric or imperial. The steps are machine steps and when using inch based screws the steps are related to imperial units - if I remember right, 2000 steps = 1".
By the way, Brian Dockerty, the guy who wrote the gerber to dispensing translation software and perhaps knows much more then Madell about step motors and screws added in his software a correction option for these steps, you can measure a certain distance, find the difference between the number entered and the real distance, divide by 2000 and enter the practical value, while the program re-calculates accordingly. A feature Madell is not even aware of.
So, the machine works in imperial steps (a unit of measurement invented by Madell which needs to be learned by the users) while all SMD tapes are metric.
The result is that after a while, with 0805 parts this is about 12 parts, the first of at least 2 exposed parts is very close to the second cover, a place where the camera is not looking for the part.
The part is skipped, then enters under the second cover and later, if it won't jam the tape is crushed by the plunger. This the good part, the worse is that the camera is unable to find the second part at all, the plunger keeps advancing the tape and jamming the machine or errors are displayed.
I made a simple calculation, and found a plunger advancing step closer to the metric division - I don't remember exactly the numbers, but instead 50 steps 53 or 54 are much closer to mm division.
This was a software change initiated by me and adopted by Madell.
Speaking of software, are you able to display gerbers with parts rotated for example at 45 deg? How about placing them?
I assemble round LED boards, where parts are at many angles around the perimeter. Guess what they suggested, as the setup allows only 90 deg rotation (the machine's specs stated full A axis control) - to make pictures of the part in all angles (I have some 30 different angles and polarity matters) then open the same part in the part list several times and in each to "lie" the machine about the angle by providing the various angles snap shots.
The second option suggested was to make a "blind" placement, with no part recognition.
To better explain myself, the angle can be any entered, but the camera recognition only "looks" for 90 deg steps.
I guess they are waiting from some other user to solve the problem and give them the solution.
Believe me, this is still a small part of what I've been through with this "piece of junk" - if you'll hear the story with the way the dispenser worked you will laugh. One thing for sure, I gave them a solution for this too, which saves them lots of money and parts. They supplied the machine with a dispensing controller like the manual stand-alone type which later I discovered (and approved by them) was not necessary, with a small change the pneumatic system can do the job. Ha... time/pressure system, working with a relay that simulates the pedal of the stand alone unit, which activates another relay in this controller, which activates a valve.... excellent timing I may say.
Really, only thinking of the time I invested in this machine instead of working makes me feel like an idiot.
Last edited by emvali; 07-13-2010 at 12:33 PM.
I imagine that for larger dots (0.5mm dia and above) the regular time/pressure systems will work but for smaller deposits (0.3mm and below) the auger is a better way to go.
I'm developing a new kind of auger pump for microdispensing and asking people experienced with augers to provide some feedback here on adafruit: http://forums.adafruit.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=16273
Thanks in advance!
#20 is also the smallest recommended for the solder paste we use, which is KOKI 951.
The KOKI distributor explained that the solder paste, which is basically a mixture of flux and small solder spheres, has 2 major things that sould be taken into attention:
The size of the solder spheres is what limits the needle size, as they should flow through it smoothly.
Regarding auger pumps, he claims that there is a probability of "crushing" the spheres, this is what he is afraid of.
Now, about cleaning, this is not such a problem:
The CAM/ALOT has a purging function. All you have to do is take away the solder paste syringe and install one with a special cleaning grease, hit "purge" button and this is it.
The removal of the syringe has no effect on the setup and it is always recommended to put it in a refrigerator anyway.
By the way, working at room temperature for long time should also be avoided as the flux becomes too liquid and the solder spheres accumulate on the bottom
Thanks for the info!
For 0.3mm dots you'd want to use #25 or even smaller needles and at that point you have to use much finer solder powder (Type-5).
I'm currently testing my auger with #25 and 27 needles and it works quite fine with the proper paste. Here's a quick video showing 0.2mm dots dispensing: [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoT4s2wY17k"]YouTube- Microdispensing testing with Type 5 Solder Paste 0.2mm dots dispensing[/nomedia]
I am not sure of the exact materials to move around, but you could build your own, load and unload mechanics. I did this with a PLC integration to automatically load and unload Chrysler timing gears for a fanuc mill. The integration worked great. It all depends on your budget for the project. If you do the work in macro programming, it could be done inside Mach3. Not considering the costs of labor, the project could surely be done on a hobby budget.
I just posted new thread about a super-cheap way to build a pick-and-place device that can place BGA, QFN and other "hidden contact" components with ~1 mil precision.
Since you guys have been thinking about pick-and-place issues for a long time, please read the message and make comments. Thanks!