Tour Our Manufacturing Area

Welcome to our manufacturing area.

By the time our employees enter this area they are already wearing their ESD certified shoes and jackets. The first thing they do upon entering this area is to check at our ESD station that their shoes and wrist strap are still ESD compliant.

All components begin in our incoming inspection area where all custom components are inspected. After the components are inspected they then move to the inventory area.

All components are stored in Inventory. Most of the custom hardware, connectors, PCBs, etc. are stored on shelves. Other components are stored on tape or trays in the MyCronic towers. They are moisture controlled so that all components are maintained at 3.5% humidity.

The towers provide extremely efficient component management. After placing a component on the receiving spot on the tower, a robot picks up the component, puts it away, and loads it into its inventory. You can also send the towers a list of components or select one component and the towers will find and produce the components requested. The towers save about six hours per kit that was spent finding components.

Taped parts are gathered and put onto feeders, loading the part number onto the feeder so the system knows which feeder has which part. The tray parts are gathered, put in trays, and sealed with dessicant if applicable.

The line currently starts with our Ekra stencil printer which prints solder paste onto the circuit board. Cyberoptics solder paste inspection equipment is next, which inspects not only the length, width, and location of solder paste but also the volume of solder paste to ensure that we have applied the correct amount in the correct place on the board.

Next is the Fuzion, our new pick and place machine which allows us to place most of our components on our boards. With our previous system it used to take us twenty eight minutes to build one side of one board and with this system we build the same side of the board in about five minutes. In the past we had to hand place surface mount and through hole connectors which we can now load in the DTF and have the Fuzion install instead of the operator. This has improved our quality and repeatability. We are also able to put large amounts of tray components in the PTF so we can put more than one tray and it discards the empty trays as it places the parts.

Now is the Hand place/Inspection station where the operator will look at the board before sending it down the line and install any components which are not machine placeable but can go through the oven.

Then the board goes through the Cyberoptics AOI machine which checks to be sure that we have all of the components in the correct place and even checks the text on the components. We might be building 10 boards and some of the boards use very similar looking parts whose only difference is that one is a -1 part and one is a -2 part. Since this can read the text then we put into our inspection criteria that it needs to be a -1 or a -2 and then it will read and will warn us if we had accidentally put a -1 part on a -2 board for instance. This gives us a chance to correct errors like that before the parts are soldered on within the oven.

Which brings us to our Heller oven. It is a ROHS lead free approved oven. At the moment our process is either leaded or hybrid. Our solder paste is always leaded but sometimes the components have leaded balls and sometimes they have lead free balls.

At the end of the line is a board inspection station for boards coming off the line.

From the end of the line the boards come over to hand assembly where they inspect the boards, put on any parts that cannot go through the oven assemble any connectors do the press fit and apply any hardware that is necessary.

We have a press fit machine that is useful for pressing in connectors that require significant force. For every board we have a special press fit fixture that supports the board and parts being pressed. A program is created for every board that defines, according to the board dimensions and connector datasheet, how much force is used to press the connectors. Every press produces a graph of results that is stored in the Press fit computer.

Then the boards are sent on their way to Production Test.

It is sometimes necessary to rework bgas, qfns, or other hard to rework with a soldering iron components. For those we have an Air-Vac Onyx29 rework system that we chose because it is possible to program and then have an operator remove parts using a very automatic process. It steps through the different rework phases and even automatically retrieves the nozzles. It has a preheater that brings the whole board up to a good temperature.