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Advice regarding PnP machine

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

Hi all,

we have the opportunity to buy used Essemtec FLX2011 PnP machine. The machine is made in 2009 and the last two years it wasn't used.

With the machine, we would get some feeders and all nozzles. Moreover, we would get the library from the EMS that has used such a machine.

We are design house for embedded electronics and we would use PnP for prototype and small-batch productions (<1000pcs). Currently, we use semi-automatic UP3100 for prototypes and for small and big series we use EMS. As we offer rapid prototyping to our clients we would like to have automatic PnP to cut down waiting and assembly time.

We are taking into account man and material cost for running that machine. Also if we decide to buy that PnP we will invest in paste printer and reflow oven.

Would that PnP satisfy our needs? What is the support for older PnP machines? Is there something that we are overlooking?

Thank you in advance for the help!

Best regards!

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

Essemtec machines are quite good for small batch production. However you do need to bear in mind the FLX is quite small and depending how you use it and the options fitted might be limited on feeder count.

You don't mention if this FLX is laser or camera based alignment, or if it is is a large board version.

I have had a site visit in the past where they had an FLX (an FLX2010 possibly) and they weren't exactly convinced it was as capable of 0402 as it would like to claim (it did it, but there was an expectation of some tweaking). They were quite happy with how their newer Essemtec Paraquda was handling 0402 and that was using basically the same feeders.

1000 board runs seems like quite a large number to put through a little machine. However this depends a lot on how complex these boards are, if the machine is fitted with a conveyor etc. (I would expect Essemtec to typically be standalone).

Essemtec CLM feeders do suffer from some wear on certain parts such as the cover tape spools that are easily replaced. They are also mechanically fairly complex inside so if one does go wrong they really need to go back to someone who has the knowledge and equipment to fix them. This might be your local distributor or depending where you are that may be a local Essemtec office. The FLX doesn't have great support for newer taller parts like electrolytics, as standard CLM feeders support 6mm and the deep pocket feeders are frankly, rubbish.

I would be reasonably comfortable buying an FLX2011 in the UK. I know there are quite a few out there and you can get them serviced by their former distributor and possibly even their new one. That of course changes by region. However Essemtec did radically change their machines after FLX, the Paraquda, FOX, Cobra & Puma all use their new ePlace software. ePlace is actually very nice to use and the workflow (at least for me) works very well with prototype and small batches. AdoptSMT currently has a Paraquda listed on its site. I wouldn't buy any of their older machines and it might even be worth calling Essemtec about a 2011 and asking them when they intend to end support, there are almost certainly several custom bits of electronics in there they can't support, forever although I would think its a few years off yet. Essemtec Ovens are very well regarded and quite affordable, they have also put their name to some printers. People really like the SP150 which you can also buy as the PBT FA23 (they make it). If you want an automatic printer you can get lots of old DEK ones for about £10k, proper refurbs get quite expensive (personally I'm not too keen on expensive equipment relying on a PC running WindowsNT and some specialist PCI/ISA card but that's how it is)

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

Thank you for the detailed response.

This FLX is laser-based alignment but we can buy a camera module (FLX-VIS) from the same distributor. The exact PN of the machine is FLX2011 LC.

The complexity of boards is components with cases: QFN, QFP, BGA, 0603, 0402, 0201. We don't count on mounting 0201 with FLX but it worries me that you say 0402 is unreliable as we are currently in transition from 0603 to 0402 for the most of our designs and we would count on assemblying boads with 0402.

The 1000pcs is maximum number of boards, 95% is going to be <100pcs.

What would be a good price for such PnP with feeders? Just an estimate so we can compare to the price that we got.

The same distributor offers DEK249 paste printer. What do you think of it?

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

A fair price.... well its the feeders that retain value. I know if you were to sell an Essemtec distributor a machine with say 10 banks of CLM feeders that old, they would give you perhaps only £10k. Refurb CLM feeders are ~£3k gbp (or about 1/2 of new) and if you were to have some feeders refurbished, that would probably cost about 1k. Machines really don't retain value so why let a middle man take a load of profit.

A supported 10 year old machine with some feeders should therefore should give you change from £20k gbp, or at least you'd hope so, it depends how much support and work they do on the machine and the warranty they offer. Any more and you can get bigger faster machines for the same money, or very cheap if you want to try importing from China.

Again a DEK249 has options like cameras, to help with alignment. I'm not super keen on semi-automatic printers that don't get you to verify the alignment of every print so I would prefer a PBT or TWS semiautomatic printer over one of those. Or get a proper automatic one as you should be able to get other nice features like underwipe &amp; paste inspection.

The FLX I saw would be an older model than this one, there could be improvements, I would want to get the seller to demonstrate it or at least find someone running one you can see. 100% necessary when buying new and no doubt still very helpful when the process is new to you or the machine is 2nd user.

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

Thank you for the help and expertise!

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 23 September, 2019

Thank you for the detailed answer! You helped tremendously!

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 28 September, 2019

Having used an FLX2010 for many years and having upgraded it to vision I would hesitate on the BGA, 0402 and no chance on the 0201.

Essemtec makes a good machine, the user interface is awesome. But feeder take a long time to load, can become problematic and, frankly, are expensive.

I looked at upgrading to support our volumes and technology and decided to move away to other manufacturers.

The oven we had was never as good as they claimed.

If I were to consider purchasing it I would insist on a complete refurbishment of the unit and all feeders.

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Advice regarding PnP machine | 28 September, 2019

Hi Uzbek, this is Alice from Neoden.

Do you consider a new PNP machine? We are a professional manufacturer and Neoden7 seems to meet your need. We also could provide a complete SMT solution with competitive price, reflow oven, solder printer, etc.

Best regards, Alice Mob/WhatsApp: +86-13588176839 Skype: Alice-Neoden


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Advice regarding PnP machine | 2 October, 2019

Hi Shawn,

we don't count on doing 0201 with that PnP. As for BGA and 0402 why would you hesitate with them? For 0402 I suppose that it could be a large number of rejects, am I right? But what is the reason for BGA?

Also like I said we don't plan to make large series with PnP. It will be used for high mix-low volume productions - basically prototyping.

As for the oven, we are looking at several options and we are not yet sure what will we choose.

As for the feeders, they have different designs than some other PnP but could you explain why it is longer loading?

Best regards!

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