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Publication Date: 05/1/2009
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Short-Run Pick-and-Place on a Tight Budget
Budget-priced benchtop pick-and-place machine.

Pressed by a virtual freeze on capital spending further constrained by historically tight credit markets, every customer asks "How can you help me do more for less?" Through its 2008 global pick-and-place market survey APS Novastar asked SMD OEM and EMS assemblers to define their immediate and ongoing component pick-and-place needs for short production run and prototyping applications. Surveyed respondents asked for a machine that would cost less, operated within a smaller footprint, place BGAs and µBGAs flawlessly and required the shortest setup time possible. At the same time their need called for an automated pick-and-place robot with greater throughput, addressed the smallest discrete devices and the finest lead pitches while producing error-free placement on a self-actualizing, easy-to-use software platform.

In an amazingly short six month development cycle time, which began in October 2008, APS Novastar recast the SMD pick-and-place landscape and gave the market exactly what it was asking for with the launch of the LE40V SMTrue Vision benchtop machine with full vision processing capabilities. Before the machine was introduced at the IPC APEX 2009 Conference in Las Vegas, the ticket to entry for short-run (3000 cph or less), fine mil pitch (down to 15 mil pitch) and lead-less component (e.g., BGA and µBGA) was north of $50,000.00. With the introduction of the APS Novastar LE40V with its revolutionary benchtop two camera, top down and bottom up on-the-fly SMTrue Vision system coupled with what is considered by many as the most intuitive operating GUI has redefined the pick-and-place field of play with a fully configured system solution for well under $39,000.00.

The new machine, which uses SMTrue Cognex® Vision system, provides SMT and PCB assemblers with the accuracy they require for placement of virtually all SMT components. Providing on-the-fly component centering with top and bottom cameras, fiducial correction, bad board mark, and pattern recognition, the LE40V allows accurate placement of 0201s, µBGAs, CSPs, and 15 mil fine pitch QFPs at up to 3000 cph with ±0.001-in. placement accuracy.

The LE40V operates with proprietary user-friendly Windows®-based software for panelized boards, self-diagnostics, error recognition and fault monitoring. The standard self-contained vacuum eliminates the need for a costly external air source. All of this is accomplished within the industry's smallest footprint for fully automated pick-and-place machines. A fully configured LE40V machine occupies a width of 40-in., a depth of 38-in. and is just 24-in. high.

Our company's engineering and marketing teams employed "fast-track" development comparing and contrasting extensive qualitative market input against a rigorous quantitative assessment of existing pick-and-place product solutions. This cross-functional team's sole intent was to ensure that the market received a better value proposition compared to what had been previously available from either APS Novastar or other manufacturers of short-run, low volume pick-and-place machines. All too often a great deal of effort is expended by the market in attempting to assess varying sets of machine performance characteristics. This can lead to decision inefficiencies and, at times, a product selection that falls short of expectations. To minimize the chance of an incorrect pick-and-place machine selection, we can make our "fast track" development process analysis results readily available to any decision-maker anywhere.

APS Novastar, LLC, established in 1982 designs, develops and manufactures OEM equipment for the short-to-medium run surface mount technology (SMT) and printed circuit board (PCB) markets. The company's products include stencil printers, automated pick-and-place robots, reflow ovens, wave and selective solder equipment, component counters and lead forming equipment. The company has installed over 20,000 product solution machines in the telecom, defense and aerospace, security, transportation, automotive, medical device and diagnostics, personal computer, display and academic markets.

Contact: APS Novastar LLC, 2840 Pine Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006 215-938-1000 215-938-8480 Web:   \par

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