High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Reflow ovens, hot plates, pick and place machines, test rigs, solder stencils. Small scale manufacturing and prototyping tool discussion.

Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby systemstech » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:50 am

Just before he dragged the PnP upstairs he was working with the reflow oven. The fumes must have gotten to him. :)
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby Sleepwalker3 » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:58 am

The oven must have been for the Dutch Bakery, apparently they make nice cookies and brownies
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby thiadmer » Fri Feb 22, 2013 3:57 pm

DwayneR wrote:What I'd like to wind up with is a utility that would strip out the extraneous data from the file, put a comment symbol before the component ID, and convert the rotation into the plus minus 180 degrees that the machine wants. A real bonus would be to also sort the file so that travel time is minimized.

Anyone interested?

This is a task that I want to take up. But... it will take some time. I want to do this when I have a TM-220A of my own. In all likeliness, I will not order until beginning of June.

What I envision is to generate the control files for the TM-220A via a plug-in for a program that already exists. This program, VisualPlace, allows you to read, edit, create and save pick & place files (which it calls "centroid files"). I can add fields for the feeder (stack) and the component height in the BOM table. In the export plug-in for the TM-220A (to be written), I would then have fields to specify the nozzles (and which nozzle must be used for which feeder). The plug-in can then try to find an optimal sequence where it picks up two components at once, as often as possible.

You can do the same with an Eagle ULP, of course. But an ULP only works with Eagle. VisualPlace works with other EDA suites too.

But again, I plan to only start this after I get my machine, which won't be before June.

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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby CheBuzz » Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:29 pm

I ordered one of these. Shipping changed at the last minute and was almost $100 more, so mine was more like $3700. Apparently they FEDEX is not accepting crate shipments anymore?

Anyway, my EDA of choice is KiCAD. I wonder what the possibility of getting KiCAD to output a PnP file?
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby DwayneR » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:48 pm

I ordered a TM240A (the larger machine) and the total cost (including shipping to Edmonton, Canada) was US $5071. The ship cost was $595, which was considerably higher than what I had expected, based on Ian's experience. But we went for it anyway.

I am indeed hoping to use this in a production environment, for small runs of 10 to 25 panels at a time. Most of my SMT boards are tiny, so each panel has anywhere from 6 to 12 boards. I'm now ordering paste stencils from the PCB supplier - they are supplying stainless-steel stencils for US $50. I did ask if they can drop that price any - for my most recent PCB order (late last week), they dropped the stencil cost down to US $45. I'm not going to push them any harder - I think that $45 is a reasonable price to pay for stainless.

I have heard that Seeed Studio will be offering a stencil service with their boards - I may have to check that out as well.

I'm hoping that my machine arrives late this coming week or early next. I'm currently looking at using one of my text editors (TSE or UltraEdit) to see if I can automate converting the PnP placement data from my CAD package into the format that the TM240A wants to see. But its been literally * YEARS * since I did any scripting with the macro language - I used to be pretty good at it but I'll be starting from scratch again. I'll most likely start with TSE (from http://www.semware.com ) - I still use a heavily-customized version of Qedit (very, very early version of TSE - now know as TSE Junior) as my daily editor and I recall that it was fairly easy to make the macro language do what I wanted.

I still think that this machine will make a fine production machine. Do recall that all of the early commercial PnP machines were based on dead-reckoning and did not have vision assistance. Quite frankly, I think that the low cost PnP machines that do have vision are using the vision system to compensate for poor mechanical accuracy. These machines without vision will have to be darned accurate - they have no choice if they are to be usable. Certainly, the specifications do state that these machines are darned accurate - far more so than the early Zevatech machine that I worked on 15 or 20 years ago. I never did see the Zevatech machine operating but its owners certainly made a lot of money from that machine - they were a tiny contract manufacturer here in Edmonton and that machine was the central part of their business. But I flat out guarantee that it was not as accurate as the specifications of this machine.

Whether or not this machine meets its specifications is something that I am quite looking forward to finding out. <Grin>.

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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby Sleepwalker3 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:02 am

Ian mentioned that Mitch was doing stainless stencils cheap, Hackvana was it?

Any machine is going to have expansion and contraction and machines like this will have twist and warp too, so make sure you set it up on a solid, properly flat bench that is braced, levelled and anchored and preferably in an air-cond area if you're even thinking about any sort of production use. Ensure the machine itself is levelled too

Accuracy on paper doesn't always translate to accuracy in practise and also accuracy is different to repeatability. Many people get steppers with microstepping drives and think that because they have a 10x microstepping (or whatever value), that they are somehow going to magically have 10x accuracy - the reality is very different. These machines will likely be 'good enough' for very small runs, but they are not built like a proper production machine, so at best you would only use it for small runs and do everything you can to help it, like the things mentioned above.
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby Sleepwalker3 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:33 am

Also re. editing the files, it will depend on lot on whether it's some kind of Binary format or text related as to how you tackle it and that could vary between products. You may not realise that Ultraedit has had Scripting for some time, not just Macros, so worth checking that out, especially when combined with Regular Expressions. Overall though if I was doing it myself I'd probably use a proper programming language like PowerBasic, but that's just me.
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby bearmos » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:43 am

thiadmer wrote:This program, VisualPlace, allows you to read, edit, create and save pick & place files (which it calls "centroid files"). I can add fields for the feeder (stack) and the component height in the BOM table

Looks like visual place is freely available, which would certainly make it accessible for a large number of hobbyists. Looks like a decent interface as well. I wonder what the Open PnP project's planning software is looking like these days?

Sleepwalker3 - all very valid points. Part of the difference between the spec's of today's machines with micro stepping stepper drives and the spec's of older machines is that manf tend to spec theoretical accuracy with micro-stepping today. Back in the day, these spec's were generally made with at most half-stepping and a lot of mechanical gear reduction (in one form or another), so it was far more likely to be realized. Either that or they were built with closed-loop servo's.

At any rate, with this machine there's likely to be more inaccuracy with the part being off-center in it's packaging than from inaccuracies in the machine's motion itself (this is one place where vision comes in handy).
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby JuKu » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:57 am

Microstepping does increase real accuracy. While it is true that microstepping to, say, 0.3 (10x microstepping) might not get you exactly to 0.3, it does get you somewhere between 0.2 and 0.4. Much better than having only full steps.
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby bearmos » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:25 am

JuKu wrote:Microstepping does increase real accuracy. While it is true that microstepping to, say, 0.3 (10x microstepping) might not get you exactly to 0.3, it does get you somewhere between 0.2 and 0.4. Much better than having only full steps.

Absolutely, the issue is that it depends on the winding of the stepper motor and may not be consistent. If you really "need" the accuracy of each and every micro-step, then full-stepping with gear reduction is going to be more reliable, but slower. Microstepping also gives other advantages like smoother travel and fewer vibrations due to torque variations (at the expense of loosing some torque).

My point was mainly that old-school systems didn't rely on micro-stepping to hit their spec's, so it's accuracy was a non-issue. When it comes to machines in this price range, microstepping drives with stepper motors that are direct/belt driven or leadscrew driven axises are the best bang for the buck. Ballscrews aren't at a price-point that can be competitive in this space quiet yet (but they seem to be getting there).
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby DwayneR » Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:38 am

Sleepwalker3 wrote:Also re. editing the files, it will depend on lot on whether it's some kind of Binary format or text related as to how you tackle it and that could vary between products. You may not realise that Ultraedit has had Scripting for some time, not just Macros, so worth checking that out, especially when combined with Regular Expressions. Overall though if I was doing it myself I'd probably use a proper programming language like PowerBasic, but that's just me.


Like most CNC formats, this uses human-readable ASCII data as was detailed in an earlier message.

And, yes, I mentioned the possibility of using either TSE or UltraEdit specifically because of the extremely powerful macro *and* scripting capability that both packages offer. I realize that there are * MANY * scripting languages now available and I had briefly considered learning Perl to accomplish what I want. I do have the luxury of having spent much time with the very early macro language for the predecessor to the current version of TSE. Alas - that was 15 or 20 years ago - and I have done very little such work since then.

Essentially, I'd be starting from scratch.

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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby velias » Mon Feb 25, 2013 2:17 pm

JuKu wrote:Microstepping does increase real accuracy. While it is true that microstepping to, say, 0.3 (10x microstepping) might not get you exactly to 0.3, it does get you somewhere between 0.2 and 0.4. Much better than having only full steps.


I don't know a lot about this stuff, but why don't these things emulate ink jet printer mechanisms? Seems to me the accuracy required of an ink jet printer is higher than any pick and place machine. I think ink jets use a striped encoding band across the printhead movement area so theres feedback. Not sure if they use a dc motor or stepper to move the printhead. Ink jet mechanisms are dirt cheap.
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby bearmos » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:23 pm

velias wrote:why don't these things emulate ink jet printer mechanisms?
...
Not sure if they use a dc motor or stepper to move the printhead. Ink jet mechanisms are dirt cheap.

Buying industrial sensors to implement something like this in small quantities is usually pretty expensive. The ink jets I've seen do use DC motors and linear encoders, but trying to do something similar (without scavenging parts) would be pretty pricey.
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby ammsolutions » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:13 pm

Hi Guys,

I have a TM220A and have been using it for about 2 months now in a low volume production environment. Not too many problems - the occasional dropped component, tape not advancing etc. I bought mine from Qinsi in Shenzhen in November 2012, I visited them and went through it all then shipped it back to australia along with a couple of SMT ovens, stencil printer etc. The guy at Qinsi has 0 english, the manual = chinese, the videos = chinese, the machine = chinese. He told me (thanks to Google translator), you cannot change the machine to english! - I am confused as the chinese manual has pictures of the menus and they are in English !!!! - does anyone have a solution to changine to english ???

I'm pretty happy with this machine, we know it wont last for ever but it has already paid for itself over. When it does die, I think we will invest in the 240 as the limits on reels is starting to hit us...
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Re: High speed Pick & Place for $3600

Postby royco » Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:10 pm

I think Ian mentioned in his video review that you would need a password to change the menus, This was supplied to him by the manufacturer(at least you know it can be changed). I ordered mine in English so hopefully that's not going to be a problem I have to deal with.

Low volume production meaning? 20, 30 50 boards a day? Do you have the need to adjust parts into place often?
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