[Community] FirePick Delta desktop electronics manufacturing

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Wed Jul 30 19:26:08 CEST 2014


Am 30.07.2014 um 14:59 schrieb Ryan de Laplante (personal):

> This morning while reading Slashdot news I came across this project:
> http://delta.firepick.org

It is a nice idea.

> I wonder if it could be helpful to reduce assembly costs of Neo900?

No. Not really.

Those commercial machines are more expensive for good reasons...

They have:
a) a much higher mechanical precision
b) automatic feeders for components coming as cut tape - this is important to get them to speed
c) they are faster

But, we do not have to buy them. We just rent them for let's say two days in which they run round
the clock to populate 200 boards. This is very affordable.


If such a machine costs 100000 USD and runs for 10 years on 220 working days per year, it costs
them just 45 US per day. So they will charge us let's say 300-500 USD for renting (and maintaining)
the machine that is to be replaced by a device like a firepick. So buying such a firepick doesn't look
attractive any more :(

All other costs are not reduced (don't forget to buy components and PCBs and solder paste).
This pick&place step is not the most expensive part of building a device or production cost.

Other parts of production cost are manpower to purchase components, keep stock, build pick&place programs
etc and set up the machine and keep it running (i.e. trouble-shoot, supply solder paste, new reels of components
coming on tape or replacing trays).

Next, it is much more important to manage the solder paste printing process and the soldering process itself
(which is not improved by this machine because these steps come before or afterwards).

Finally, I have done today manually what such a machine could do. I have done it using a good stereo
microscope and tweezers... To build new Pyra-handheld prototypes. Yes, that is a slow process and you
need a calm hand, but it is doable. But of course not for 200 units... That would drive one crazy :)

So in general such a machine is just an alternative for one of several production steps that are needed.

Which means that all others still have to be done externally. So we simply ask some EMS who can
do all steps for a quotation and it is very unlikely that they will replace their good pick&place machine
by something else...


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