So I Got a Pick and Place Machine

Discussion in 'Electronics & Electrics' started by bleckers, May 16, 2018 at 4:54 PM.

  1. bleckers

    bleckers Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    St Kilda
    So I recently imported a CHMT36VA pick and place machine, the same one that the Sparkfun guys got for their small run processes - https://www.sparkfun.com/sparkx/blog/2586

    I selected this model because Sparkfun has put a bit of work to de-Chinglishify the translation of the UI's software and has also developed some toolsets to make exporting from Eagle/KiCAD easier to do. There's also some work at the moment to decode the protocol to get it to work with OpenPNP, which is looking very promising. The vision assist is also a good feature to have (the vision assist helps with misalignment when parts are picked up from the tape; offset and rotation).

    I was originally looking at the Liteplacer, but opted for this due to concerns with workflow and setup/assembly of the machine. The Liteplacer looks neat, but there would be too much work to get it to be more versatile with feeders and the like. Plus is is markedly slower and requires assembly.

    The price of the unit was 3,580.00USD from AliExpress, which worked out to around $4800.00 AUD after conversion. This includes shipping, but doesn't include the $833 for import duties, GST and customs fees. However, this unit does fall under the ChAFTA agreement which means import duties fall to $0 if you can get through the paperwork for it (the manufacturer needs to complete a certificate of origin for this). I did this and paid only $570 for GST and fees.

    The ordering process was a bit sketchy through AliExpress as I had to verify my account by sending a bunch of documentation. You need to send IDs and credit card scans. You can blank out the first lot of digits on the CC (just leaving the last 4 digits) and you can also blank out your ID number and they will accept it. The ID does need to show your address however. This seems to be something new that AliExpress has introduced to prevent fraud. During this time, the manufacturer was getting the order ready for shipment and they were really responsive to requests and their rep is very articulate. Once the order went through, the unit was sent via TNT the same day.

    Before ordering I confirmed that the pallet was not made from solid wood, as AQIS will have to treat it and charge a fee. They confirmed that it was "export quality" plywood and there shouldn't be any issues. There's some more info here - http://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/goods/timber-packaging

    4 days later after clearing customs and getting the ChAFTA documents through, the TNT guy rocked up. He brought into the building on a trolley jack:

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    After getting it into the apartment and scratching some tiles (errant nails in the pallet), it was found to be packed pretty well. It weighed about 70kg, so this certainly wasn't fun.

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    The crate was pretty solidly put together, I actually broke my crappy hammer trying to wedge it open:

    [​IMG]

    After installing the software and the translation files from the Sparkfun repo, the machine just needed a software camera alignment and things were up and running pretty quickly out of the box.

    Here's a quick video of it placing some of the boards I make for sale on Tindie (the machine is running at about 50% speed):



    The parts on here are 0603's, and the boards were pretty much ready to fire in the oven after placing. There was a couple of parts that bounced a little and needed to be nudged into place, but this now cuts my hand placement time from 1.5-2hrs for that panel, down to about 8-10 minutes.

    Overall the machine is pretty decent. There's a few quirks that need to be ironed out, however they seem to be well known and detailed on the Sparkfun review page. Getting a better way of creating leaders that works well is the main one, but even the larger industrial processes have the same problems.

    The only issue is the wife hates the blue colour of the front of the machine. I'm going to get a piece of plywood for the front and engrave the name of the machine. I might call it Ralph, although I'm open to suggestions.

    If you have any questions fire away!
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018 at 9:35 PM
    CQGLHyperion, Eclipsor and yoink like this.
  2. Hater

    Hater Member

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    Canberra
    Holy crap, that's next level cool

    What're you making?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    bleckers

    bleckers Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    St Kilda
    I have been making a bunch of "smart" breakout boards for sensors available here - https://www.tindie.com/stores/blecky/. I have a few new products that are almost ready for release and other designs in the pipeline, but was getting so sick of hand placement and wasn't at the point where I can jump to full scale contract manufacturing (called the pit of despair).

    I also have some mates who are looking to run a few of their designs through the machine as well as they are experiencing the same sorts of problems. Maybe down the track I'll open up to more locals and offer micro-fab type services, but that's definitely not the main focus at the moment. I'm just happy I don't have to place parts anymore.

    If anyone on the forum is in Melbourne, I'm happy to show it to you if you are interested.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018 at 1:47 AM
  4. HorrorLand

    HorrorLand Member

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    Location:
    Riverina
    Bloody awesome! Importing is always fun...
     

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