Accurate and low cost circuit board assembly
In today’s world of space conscious technology like flat-screen TVs, thin laptops and smart phones, the demand for space-saving printed circuit boards and system-on-a-chip (SOC) is on the rise. Assembling printed circuit boards requires repeatable performance, and extremely subtle precision is usually too expensive for educational and small business markets. Professor Harvey Silverman’s team at Brown University devised a solution to automate the process within a multi-axis circuit board assembly system and at a suitable cost for these areas.
To accomplish the task of circuit board assembly, Professor Silverman needed a linear motion solution that could position tiny surface mount devices (SMD’s) such as capacitors and resistors of 0402 size (0.040 x 0.0240 inch) and accurately place them onto solder paste to adhere to the board. The tiny parts needed to be handled delicately and adjusted mid-operation to correct for misalignment. The final piece of the puzzle was finding a way to ensure all parts are in the right place.
The PBC Linear solution
PBC Linear implemented their ML series mini-actuator XYZ gantry controlled with a vision system for their solution. With a 28 x 32 mm profile, the compact mini-actuator was the optimal size for small-scale circuit board assembly. In addition, the ML series is equipped with state-of-the-art components for accurate linear positioning. They include a ‘dove-tail’ style carriage comprising 14 plain bearing surfaces for high rigidity and smooth travel, single or dual external linear guide supports for enhanced stability, and a full line of accessories for use in multi-axis systems.