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Swiss Machining Solves Sticky EMS Problems
ezLOAD system reduces changeover times.
By Curt Couch, President, Count On Tools, Inc., Gainesville, GA
Recent growth in LED technology and solid state lighting has provided the electronics manufacturing industry with viable solutions for its addition into today's electronic devices. This has led to an increased demand for LED nozzles.
Count On Tools gets new requests for LED nozzles every day from EMS companies around the world. Everyone in the world is having the same issues with placing the new style of SMD LED components: they are sticky. The machine picks up the nozzle to place it and it is stuck to the tip. That is where the problem begins. You have a board missing components and a nozzle that thinks it is ready to pick another LED, not realizing that there is still one stuck on it.
The solution was to find a suitable material that could not only eliminate the sticky LEDs, but also is durable enough for long-term use as well as reliable and accurate enough for placing thousands of these LED components each hour. We also had to meet the critical requirements from the component manufactures to protect the LED lenses from damage during the placement process.
What we developed was a Urethane-based tip that not only achieves each of these goals, but has outperformed every other solution on the market to date, including those from the OEMs and component manufacturers. The result is no more sticky LEDs. We have successfully tested this design on all types of pick-and-place equipment, and currently offer designs for all major LED components (from CREE, Luxeon, Osram, Kingbright, and others).
Increased PCB Density
With the recent increase of densely populated double-sided circuit boards, there was a need for more affordable board support options in the industry. The end result was an innovative design that is not only easy to set up and install, but also offers exceptional benefits to EMS companies and contract manufacturers worldwide. The new ezLOAD System not only reduces changeover times, but improves product build quality, increases revenues by providing significant cost savings, and can eliminate component damage during the assembly process.
StripFeeder systems load many components.
The ezLOAD System is simple to use. Just place the unit on the equipment's board support table and align as required. Multiple units can be arranged in rows (X and Y) for more support on larger boards. Our standard design includes strong magnets that hold the ezLOAD system in place. In addition, we offer other designs for machines that have non-magnetic tables. The soft, ESD-safe foam fingers hold the boards securely during the assembly process while protecting components. ezLOAD is extremely durable, yet reliable for long-term use and the foam pads can be replaced providing excellent cost savings. The system requires air, electronics, or communication with the machine, so there are no mechanical functions to fail. Most importantly, the system is very affordable when compared to other similar products on the market. The ezLOAD System is compatible with any SMT equipment, from pick-and-place to chipshooters, screen printers, dispensers, AOI and more. It is available in three different styles, including an adjustable height model, to accommodate any size board. The ezLOAD System can be customized depending on machine requirements, specialized components or specific design application requirements.
Loading Odd-Form Parts
The new StripFeeder systems are a cost-effective way to load many components, including odd-form and custom components, without having to purchase expensive feeders. The quick-to-assemble, easy-to-install modules are designed for rapid loading of tape-and-reel components on existing SMT pick-and-place equipment. In addition, the trays enable fast changeover between product runs without unloading from the machine. The StripFeeder trays are compatible with both paper and embossed tape simultaneously, and are especially suitable for low-volume high-mix applications and prototyping. Unlike our fixed width version, the StripFeeder.mod can be adjusted by removing the rails and repositioning them on the base plate at the desired width (4mm pitch hole pattern). The rails align with precision pin locaters and lock down tightly with magnets to guarantee a stable, repeatable application. The innovative design holds the components securely in the machined tracks to prevent parts from being mispicked, flipped in the pocket or lost. Also, customers can remove rails to accommodate larger components up to 120mm tape width. More importantly, we built the standard StripFeeder.mod system to JEDEC specs so that it would be compatible with most tray feeder systems already on the market.
We ask our customers, "Why would you purchase expensive feeders for each component or a small strip of tape when you only need to place a few at a time?"
Swiss Automatic Machining
Another part of our operation is precision contract machining services. Count On Tools is a precision component manufacturer specializing in CNC Swiss Automatic Machining. Whether our customers need fast turnaround, single parts, small lots, large quantities or a long-term supply with on-time deliveries, we are able to supply the highest quality and service. Our commitment to excellence is shown through our design and manufacturing processes as well as investment in the latest machining and quality technologies. We offer a variety of small job shop services and materials.
Swiss machining originally was developed to provide intricate, tight tolerance parts for the watch industry. These intricate parts required numerous machining operations to create the features needed. With Swiss turning machines, multiple operations — including turning, slotting, boring, milling, threading, indexing, drilling, facing and broaching — can all be performed. This equipment can hold tolerances of ±0.0001-in. (±0.00254mm) and their versatility minimizes or eliminates the need for secondary operations. We specialize in machining components from standard as well as exotic materials including Stainless Steel, Titanium and difficult-to-machine Inconel.
We have established and refined the systems and processes that allow delivery of precision parts that create real efficiency, quality and value — proven in OEM applications for customers throughout the world.
We have been blessed over the last year in terms of business growth with all divisions of our company, especially the contract machining services. We have seen more orders come in and we must anticipate any future growth to keep up with our customers' demands. This division of the company not only provides machining services to outside customers, but also produces our entire line of SMT nozzles and tooling, so it is crucial to our entire organization.
As a result, we have expanded our Georgia headquarters and purchased new equipment in response to this increased demand for our precision contract machining services.
Lower Cost Consumables
Also, considering the current state of the economy, many companies are taking a hard look at their budgets to determine where they can make significant cost savings. For the electronics manufacturing industry, this allows us to show customers that we can provide quality consumables at a lower cost, saving them money while maintaining the consistent quality they have come to expect from the OEM. This has fueled the growth of our SMT division over the last few years.
To accommodate this growth, we had to convert some unused warehouse space into a manufacturing cell. At the same time, we have been purchasing new manufacturing equipment to allow us to produce more quality parts. All of this has combined to increase our machining capacity as well as our capabilities for producing even tighter tolerance parts quickly and efficiently.
We are still in the process of installing new equipment, with the addition of a Miyano BX26-S, and are looking to add another Zeiss CMM in the near future. This will further increase our capacity in both the manufacturing and quality control departments. At the same time, we will be increasing the workforce to maintain production. On the SMT side, we are still developing more options for the StripFeeder .mod system, including taller rails for deep pocket components. We also have updated our Web site for easy ordering of the ezLOAD system. Currently we are looking into adding a line of automatic tape-and-reel cutters and PCB magazine racks to our existing product range.
Contact: Count On Tools, Inc., 2481 Hilton Dr., Suite 3, Gainesville, GA 30501
800-880-7007 or 770-538-0411 fax: 770-538-0417 E-mail: email@example.com Web:
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