Cost-Efficient Laser Depaneling

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Why depaneling with a laser is the most efficient solution

For years now, there have been rumors going around in the electronics industry that laser depaneling is very costly. This may have been true for investments in laser machines ten or more years ago – but when considering the operating expenses, especially with newer systems, the situation looks quite different today. In the end, depaneling with laser systems has become by far the most efficient method for a wide range of applications and the cutting results are excellent, which means that the highest quality standards are also met.

The trend in the price-to-performance ratio for current laser systems, especially with respect to production of rigid PCBs, is quite obvious: The cost of depaneling based on the effective cutting speed has fallen to approximately one tenth of what it was a decade ago. (Fig. 1)

There are two main drivers for this phenomenon: on one hand material costs are much lower today than they were a few years ago, and on the other hand, the performance of laser systems has improved dramatically due to integration of more powerful lasers and the more advanced process know-how developed by leading laser machine manufacturers such as LPKF.

Price / performance ratio
Figure 1: Price/performance ratio

Material Savings and Fewer Upstream Processes

With the use of modern laser systems such as LPKF’s CuttingMaster 3000, savings in terms of PCB material of more than 30% on average can be achieved. This is made possible by utilizing a full-perimeter cut through the panels with the laser, rather than cutting tabs of pre-routed boards. With a full-perimeter cut, PCBs can be spaced very closely together for minimal material loss; taking full advantage of the narrow kerf width of a laser tool which is typically around 0.15 mm vs. a 1-2 mm router bit. This eliminated the space that is otherwise occupied by pre-routing lanes around each PCB on the panel. Another advantage is the variable and exact laser guidance and the narrowest possible cut to accommodate even the most intricate geometries, ensuring optimum material utilization. Through these factors, laser systems can realize even greater savings potential, especially for smaller-sized PCBs.
In addition, the costs of upstream process steps are reduced, and users also profit from indirect savings because of the higher number of PCBs per panel: The handling time for the individual PCB is reduced and human errors caused by manual handling are minimized.

Low Operating Expenses, Minimal Downtime

In addition, unlike with milling machines, there are no significant operating expenses. Background: The laser as a tool has no mechanical wear and the quality of the laser is constant. There is no need for regular replacement of saw blades or router bits also eliminating the unproductive downtime and cost to replace such tools.
Preventive maintenance work can be done at longer and planned intervals because the replacement of machine wear parts is done during regular preventive maintenance deployments. Through this, the downtime can be reduced to a minimum.

Error Minimization and Quality Improvement

For high volumes, laser machines integrated into production lines are often advantageous. (Fig. 2) Extensive automation often reduces manual errors. By using a laser for PCB depaneling operations, both dust and stress to the PCB are eliminated, drastically improving production yield. Unlike traditional mechanical depaneling methods, laser depaneling machines, do not generate milling dust which can become airborne and cause quality issues anywhere in the plant, as well as cause health problems for employees exposed to these airborne particulates. Lasers also don’t create the mechanical stresses that are imparted when using a dicing saw or router, which could jeopardize the functionality of sensitive components on the circuit board or even compromise the integrity of the board itself. PCB manufacturers achieve a higher quality and a better yield if laser depaneling system are being used. These two factors together provide a significant advantage, which traditional depaneling technologies cannot equally provide.

LPKF  inline laser depaneling
Laser depaneling system automatic loading/unloading

Energy Efficiency

Even if it seems at first that the energy use for depaneling was negligible for many production facilities, this factor is nowadays often considered more carefully. Over the years, the performance of the laser has risen considerably while their overall power consumption in relation has dropped significantly. This translates into a sixfold increase in overall energy efficiency – a remarkable factor that can currently only be achieved by laser technology. (Fig. 3)

LPKF Energy efficient processing
Changes in energy efficiency

Conclusion

When considering the above-mentioned aspects in terms of the cost-effectiveness of laser systems for depaneling of rigid and flexible PCBs, modern laser machines are the tools of choice, especially for high throughput applications. These systems save on material costs, handling efforts, and improved production quality which equates to higher yield. The return on this investment is easy math.

Link to original article on LPKF website 

Koh Young Joins the IPC-DPMX Consortium to Further Enable Smart FactoryAutomation

Atlanta, GA – Koh Young, the industry leader in True3D™ measurement-based inspection solutions, proudly announced it joined the IPC-DPMX (IPC-2581) Consortium to advance the adoption of a data and transfer methodology, which will improve efficiency and reduce costs for electronicsmanufacturers. Combining IPC-DPMX (IPC-2581) with IPC-CFX will help deliver engineering data directly to machines to streamline the process andenable smart factory automation.

IPC-DPMX is a generic standard for printed circuit board and assembly manufacturing description data and transfer methodology.
Developed in 2004 by IPC, IPC-DPMX is used for transmitting information between a printed circuit board designer and a manufacturing or assembly facility. For nearly every step in the industrial process flow, IPC-DPMX offers a standard to help companies ensure superior manufacturability, quality, reliability, and consistency in electronics assemblies built for their products.

“Koh Young are leaders in the integration of data exchange with IIoT-driven MES solutions and other machine technologies within the SMT line, satisfying their customers’needs through interoperable and holistic smart factory solutions”, states Michael Ford, Senior Director of Emerging Industry Strategy at Aegis Software. “Using the 100% machine-automation readable DPMX design file, together with the context ualization of work-assignment and schedule, deliverable using CFX from the Digital Manufacturing Engineering (DME) component of MES, allows Koh Young the opportunity to feed-back manufacturing intelligence to design in the same format that strongly augments design for manufacturing activity, decreasing lead-times and costs, as well as improving end-product quality and reliability,” he concluded.

Traditionally, it could take days for manufacturers to compile the necessary file bundle needed for production. Worse, the antiquated data formats may exclude critical elements like transfer stack-up data, materials, design intent, and more. Today, IPC-DPMX has streamlined the process. What took days, now takes minutes thanks to intelligent data exchange between OEM designers, printed circuit board manufacturers, and electronics manufacturers, including the vital equipment suppliers. The IPC-DPMX and IPC-CFX combination provides production flexibility and advances the movement towards Industry 4.0.

“Koh Young leverages its True3D™ measurement-based inspection solutions to simplify the lives of our customers by delivering innovative inspection technologies that increase productivity,” said Brent Fischthal, Senior Marketing Manager for Koh Young America. “To that end, the adoption of IPC-DPMX and IPC-CFX perfectly aligns with our charter to make life easier for our partner customers.”

As demonstrated with its efforts involving IPC-CFX and IPC-Hermes-9852, Koh Young is a strong driver of standardization for the global electronics assembly industry. “Part of our focus requires converting an extremely complicated set of data into usable information for effective decision making”,added Heriberto Cuevas Velazquez, Project Manager at Koh Young America. “We support IPC-DPMX as an open, neutral standard for efficient PCB data transfer to simplify programming and ensure accurate data, including inspection requirements.”

For information about the Consortium or details about joining, visit www.IPC2581.com. You can learn more about Koh Young and its best-in-class inspection and smart factory solutions by visiting kohyoung.com.

MicroCare releases new IPA based cleaning products

MicroCare released new products to provide safe and high purity cleaning in almost any production environment.

As the world sees the COVID-19 virus makes traditional cleaning products difficult to find, many industries are looking for ways to effectively clean their products and workplaces. In response to those customer requests, MicroCare is expanding its line of electronics and surface cleaners. The purpose is to provide customers with effective fluids to keep surfaces clean.

The new aerosol MultiClean™ MultiTask Surface Cleaner Spray and the new presaturated wipes feature a 70% high purity IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) and 30% D.I. (Deionized) water mixture that evaporates more slowly, allowing the cleaning fluid to remain on surfaces longer, for better cleaning.

The new cleaners remove flux and white residue from circuit boards, solder paste and uncured epoxy residues from stencils, fingerprints, grease and light oils commonly found in medical device and electronics manufacturing. With excellent materials compatibility, it is safe to use on a variety of metals and plastics.

MCC-MLC117

  • MultiTask Surface Cleaner – Aerosol
  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) 30% DI Water
  • Stock: Available for immediate despatch.

MCC-MLCW / MCC-MLCW

  • Pre-saturated wipes (and refills)
  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) 30% DI Water
  • Stock: Available for immediate despatch.

MCC-IPAL (Isopropyl alcohol)

  • IPA 1 Litre Containers
  • 99.8% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)
  • In stock

Does your inspection strategy include Reflow Process Inspection?

Do you need better defect analysis? Combine reflow data with your SPI and AOI data for true defect data analytics.
Without RPI you don’t have the complete picture!

KIC reflow process inspection

There is SPI for Screen Printing, AOI for Pick and Place, and there is RPI for the Reflow Oven.
KIC’s RPI provides production reports such as yield analysis, DPMO, Pareto Charts, Cpk and much much more.
The RPI is an automatic system that, once programmed, works in the background without any operator involvement.
Its capabilities include:

  • Provides process deficiency information to help correct defect issues quickly
  • Shares all pertinent process and production data in real-time
  • Automatically profiles each and every PCB
  • Provides instant alarm for out-of-spec situations
  • Automatic SPC charting, including Cpk
  • Process traceability down to individual PCBs
  • Prevents human error such as production of the wrong PCBs or wrong oven recipe settings (bar code required)

The KIC RPI improves quality and throughput, and is universally applicable. Inspection is independent of the oven model, personnel, PCB types and production site.

For more details please visit our product information page or contact us.

Koh Young collaborates with Mentor to further simplify inspection system programming

Seoul, Korea — Industry leader Koh Young announces it has joined forces with Mentor, a Siemens business, to deliver an enhanced programming solution, which will benefit the printed circuit board assembly market. Building on the AI-powered Koh Young Auto Programming software (KAP), Mentor integrated its Valor™ Process Preparation Software to further simplify Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) programming and reduce production costs by saving time through the implementation of Mentor’s Open Product Model.

“The synergy between our companies has resulted in an outstanding solution that is designed to help reduce time to market and improve production quality across the line,” said Mr. JD Shin, Chief Sales Office for Koh Young Technology. “We are especially excited about this particular collaboration with Mentor, because it was in direct response to the voice of the customer. The partnership highlights the benefits customers can realize when two suppliers work together towards a common goal. It was a win-win for everyone.”

The enhanced software eliminates the need for CAD and Gerber files, which saves time be eliminating the efforts by a programmer to locate, upload, and manipulate these product files. The new solution reduces programming time by blending several elements together that automatically creates the necessary AOI programming files.

One of the elements Koh Young integrated from Mentor includes the Valor Open Product Model (OPM). Introduced in 2018 by Mentor, OPM is an open data assembly format structured in XML, which focuses on the printed circuit board assembly model (PCBA) and the associated manufacturing process plan. OPM is a solution for the open exchange of process engineering information between disparate machines and processes. In the same way that ODB++ works for design data, OPM is the answer to the need for flexibility that Smart Industry 4.0 factories demand.

A second element that is now part of Koh Young software, it the extensive Valor Parts Library (VPL) database from Mentor. Comprised of over 35 million component manufacturers part numbers and package geometry definitions, Valor Process Preparation software uses this information to fully automate the creation of new parts and packages for use in inspection systems and mounters using its “Auto-Generation” rule methodology.

Combining a single assembly format file output like OPM and a standardized machine package library from VPL, the manufacturer minimizes program variations between machines like inspection systems and component mounters. This improved programming approach can eliminate human error and variation, while significantly reducing NPI programming time. Additionally, OPM is generalized so it is interoperable among various systems and easily enables moving production between lines and—more importantly—factories across the world.

 “This joint programming project was just the first step in an expanded collaboration to improve the PCBA manufacturing experience for our customer,” said Mr. Rick Esposito, Director of Valor’s Processing Engineering Product Line. “When industry leaders collaborate, remarkable solutions result. We are excited about this relationship and the future together.”

Remembering Tom Waltuch

Remembering Tom Waltuch
20-05-1944 – 19-07-2020

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Tom Waltuch, Sales Manager and Managing director of W&S Benelux BV from 1983 till 2015. 

This wonderfully charismatic man passed away peacefully in the early morning of Sunday the 19th July, surrounded by his family. Our thoughts and love are with his wife Conny and daughters Simone and Danielle and their families.

We will always remember Tom’s integrity, honesty, drive and full commitment to W&S and his  team.  He was a true salesman , he loved the contact with customers and showed genuine interest in person and product,  yet not losing sight of the commercial interest in his personal approach.

His creed in life was ‘ who does good, meets well’. With rock-solid confidence that this belief was (is)  ultimately the most important, he gained  trust from many customers. We will remember his insight, forward thinking, and his very big heart.

The world is a sadder place without him. He will be missed terribly by his family and friends and all of us at W&S Benelux BV.

Welcome back Ton Luijten

Ton Luijten

We are happy to announce that since June 1 Ton Luijten is back in the W&S team.

He already has a history at W&S, he previously worked at our company from 2007 – 2018. During that time he gained expert knowledge about most of our products and technologies. Ton is a well-known face for most customers.

We are happy that he is back and wish him the best of luck in his work.

Trust is good, but a “Benchmark Board” is better

EPP & Koh Young present Benchmark board webinar

May 27, 2020 / 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Koh Young benchmark board ver.09

Your current product, which you use for a machine demonstration or an evaluation, will not necessarily reflect the requirements of the future. The manufacturer’s demo board usually shows “state-of-the-art” technology. However, this in a manageable form. This means, it will not reflect the production reality. And now we are already with the requirements of a “real” benchmark board. It should be close to production reality; it should include current and future technologies and it should show inspection limits.

Koh Young has been developing benchmark boards for many years, which are now being used by a wide range of manufacturers and users. The webinar will give you an introduction to the topic of benchmark board and benchmark board design. Get to know ways of differentiating 3D measurement concepts and learn how to correctly classify the statements in the glossy brochures.

Click here to register for this webinar

Kester Launches WP616 Solder Paste

Kester is proud to announce the launch of WP616, a zero-halogen, lead-free, water-soluble solder paste formula for both nitrogen and air reflow applications.

WP616 provides a combination of consistent print performance at wide humidity levels, excellent solderability and ease of cleaning, while maintaining a zero-halogen flux formulation. WP616 is a stable water-soluble formula, providing consistent stencil life, tack time and print definition. WP616 is classified as ORM0 flux under IPC J-STD-004B.

For additional information on this product including technical and safety data sheets, please visit the WP616 product page.

Juki screen printers webpage updated

Our webpage presenting the Juki printers has been updated.

  • Model GL-Plus information has been replaced with the new G-Titan printer.
    G-Titan is the new medium format printer (510 x 510 mm.) with extended functionality.
    The accuracy of the new G-Titan printer is 18µM making it suitable fot the smallest component sizes.
  • Model K3 information has been replaced with the niew P-Primo printer.
    The P-Primo is suitable for PCB sizes up to 850 x 610 mm.
  • Model PMAX-II remains unchanged.
    The PMAX-II can be used for PCB sizes up to 1.220 x 800 mm.

Click here to see the new Juki screen printers page.