How To Choose The Best Pick and Place Machine

How To Choose The Best Pick and Place Machine
Kitmondo 13 Feb 2019

Many production establishments depend on a large product output within the shortest time frame, and so they work consistently to keep this trend viable and working. 

Since high product volume within a short time seems to be the goal of every manufacturing establishment, advancement in technology has then brought the need to develop machines with high speed, accuracy, high repetition rate, and pinpoint precision to give answers to such concerns. 

Now, this post focuses on the surface mount technology component placement system (SMT) which is commonly called pick and place machines.

These machines find relevance when high precision and speed is needed for the placement of various electronic components (resistors, integrated circuits, capacitors etc) on a printed circuit board (PCB). 

New or used pick and place machine? 

If you were considering where to get a pick and place machine for sale or what the best pick and place machine could be, you just made the right turn to the right place at the right time.

Again, it is possible that you have a low budget, but you are firmed at getting the best despite how small your budget may be. 

Yes, with the right information from a reliable market place for used machines, you can certainly get a used pick and place machine which will serve you perfectly. 

Kindly pull up a couch and sit because this post is designed to guide you about what you should consider when buying pick and place machines

Remember, every manufacture tag their machines as the best, but the right information will help you choose what is best for your need. 

So let’s get started! 

Things to consider when buying pick and place machines

Placement speed

Sure you’ll agree here that the placement speed of any P&P machines will have a direct impact on your production volume. So, for pick and place machines, their speed is measured in components per hour (CPH) also be referred to as parts per hour (PPH).

The CPH of P&P machines involves the rate at which P&P machines will pick up components, inspect such components before placing them on the printed circuit board (PCB).

Many P&P machine manufacturer’s rates their machines based on the IPC 9850 standard. The IPC 9850 is a general guide for part mix and PCB placement arrays of P&P machines to enhance the buyer’s comparison of one machine to another.

So, in reality, when considering what the placement speed of a P&P machine will be, it is best to de-value the manufacturers’ IPC 9850 CPH rating by about 20%.

Where a manufacturer’s CPH rating isn’t IPC 9850, devalue the placement rate by about 30%.

Based on what your requirement for CPH rating may be in terms of budget and productivity, the table below will guide you

Table 1: P&P machine, average CPH range, and price range.

Parts size

Many P&P machines come with various components size, and the minimum – maximum component dimension each machine can handle. When considering a machine’s part size, it is important to consider your production needs for CSP, BGA and odd form parts as well.

Also, where your machine can handle different component parts, various alignment methods needs to be installed on your P&P machine.

Get this right! For machines with a single alignment method, they give more precision and faster components placement on the PCB. Also, due to their narrow parts size, there is usually an alternative system for alignment to carter for larger component sizes.

Before you dash out to purchase a machine with the ability to place larger components, get this fact clear. It is not every machine with the ability to place larger components can inspect such components.

So, buying a machine with the capacity to place large components may leave you with a machine that will be placing merely defective large components.

Concern about minimum size pick up, inspection and placement? Many P&P machines can pick 0402, 0201, 01005 component sizes. Don’t forget this – any components size smaller than 0402 may require an additional feeder or nozzle which is specially designed for such components. Your vendor should guide you right on this aspect.

Feeder slots

Another thing to consider is the number of 8mm tape feeder (feeder capacity) that can be loaded on your P&P machine at the same time. For larger parts/components, larger feeders will work perfectly, and you also need to inquire from your vendor the possible amount of slots a larger tape feeder such as 12mm, 16mm, 24mm and above can occupy.

Also, if tubes or trays (such as waffle or matrix) is what you’ll need, it is wise to know the capacity of the feeders on your machine and the number of individual 8mm spaces which they’ll require to function effectively.

This is important because waffle and matrix tubes/trays are known to occupy tons of space.

Component lead pitch

If you ask us, we’ll suggest a 0.012 fine pitch for your P&P machine. Why? 0.012 are seen as the standard lead pitch for today’s P&P machines.

Hello! Here is an area where many manufacturers and vendors may get you fooled. Making reference to the motor accuracy or specification can be a cheap way to deceive buyers. The efficiency of a machine to pick up, inspect, place, fine pitch lead, and ball grid parts has nothing to do with a machine’s motor accuracy or specification.

Feeder rack specification

For feeder racks and their sizes, it is best to make serious investigations and ask many questions regarding this. Reasons being that feeder rack has the tendency of reducing the available panel/board area on your P&P equipment. When this happens, loading more feeders as you may require will be difficult - if not impossible.

In simple terms, ensure that your P&P machine board size is not based on the specification of a single feeder rack that has been installed on the machine.

Accuracy and repeatability

Our candid recommendation when it comes to the accuracy of your P&P machine is that you search for a machine with an accuracy of 0.0001” with a fine pitch lead of 12mil repeatedly.

However, for smaller budgets, many low-cost P&P machines won’t give such accuracy and fine pitch.

That notwithstanding, no matter how considerably low your budget may be, you can always find a used pick and place machine that can give such results.

Furthermore, another thing which you stand to gain when you purchase a used pick and place machine is the fact that you can buy the best pick and place machine that comes with a computer and software which will handle the aspect of component placement repetition.

Too many facts to consider? Let’s take the stress from you

Professionally, here is candid advice you should thank us for later – a used pick and place machine from the right market place for used equipment can do a whole lot than you can imagine. Spending tons on a new SMT machine may not give you the needed solution to your needs, considering the various aspects you have to consider in making sure that you purchase the best pick and place machine.

With our team of experts, the manufacturer’s/vendor’s support is never a problem you should worry about because we are always ready to ensure that your machines function efficiently.

Check us out today and get the best deal for used pick and place equipment.