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Support systems: Support circuit boards efficiently and safely
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Support systems

Support circuit boards efficiently and safely

Automatic PCB support systems are standard in electronics manufacturing. However, even with these systems details exist that have an influence on the systems’s productivity that should not be underestimated.

Despite miniaturization, there are more and more situations and applications where very long PCBs have to be printed and assembled. An XL stencil printer and automatic placement machine is then used in the production lines. The question remains as to how to support such large-format printed circuit boards competently and reliably in practice.  

"Ideally, large-format printed circuit boards are supported in the same way as the normal-sized ones in the past - with an automatic printed circuit board support system."

Manfred Sauer, owner of motion-automation
Fig. 1: The longest QUIK-tool modules have module lengths of 533mm and a pin stroke of 27mm.  Up to six modules can be connected to the air manifold. (Fig.: motion automation)
Fig. 1: The longest QUIK-tool modules have module lengths of 533mm and a pin stroke of 27mm. Up to six modules can be connected to the air manifold. (Fig.: motion automation)

Automatic PCB support systems have proven themselves in stencil printing, AOI and SPI as well as in SMD placement machines. Under the high loads during stencil printing, they support the even and precise application of solder paste. In SMD automatic placement machines they prevent the vibration of the printed circuit boards and thus a twisting or missing of components on the printed circuit board. However, there are also various criteria that should be taken into account when selecting support systems (Fig. 1) - after all, these systems contribute significantly to the productivity of a production line. It goes without saying that each newly loaded PCB is individually supported, as this is the only way to ensure that PCB panels are processed correctly. However, with frequent PCB changes, which are increasing in modern electronics production, every omitted readjustment has a positive effect. For example, when using the Optiflow function, the operator does not have to readjust the air settings - regardless of whether the PCB width changes during a product change, i.e. whether more or fewer modules are used.

Fig. 2: Modern caps considerably reduce the cleaning and maintenance effort (Fig.: motion-automation)
Fig. 2: Modern caps considerably reduce the cleaning and maintenance effort (Fig.: motion-automation)

Simple cleaning and maintenance of the support system also pays off quickly, and this is where the rubber caps become important (Fig. 2). By redesigning the rubber caps, it was possible to avoid their removal from the pins during maintenance and cleaning of the modules. The pins with the rubber caps all fall out immediately after removing the base plate and can thus be cleaned quickly and easily. Older QUIK-tool modules can be retrofitted with the new rubber caps. These features of a support system show that productivity in electronics manufacturing is often a question of the sum of detailed solutions.

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