In part 1 I covered how we were very limited by the stock FVX with mechanical and cut sheet feeders and how we added parts from other manufacturers to maximize the functionality. In this part I will cover how we took a giant leap forward in adding functionality to the FVX in order to adapt to quick turnarounds for new boards.
Identifying the problem
At the end of part one it was obvious that we had a solution which allowed us to produce all our boards and only use cut sheet trays for the components that did not have slots in the cut sheet feeder or that would not work in the cut sheet feeder or the mechanical feeders.
The cut sheet trays worked great but they had to be monitored and new sheets of components inserted when they ran out.
What we needed was an ability to add and remove feeders at will especially for larger parts. The smaller parts, 8mm feeders, do not get switched out much and are common on most of our boards but larger parts like USB connectors, JST SH connectors, etc. are not used on every board and do not need to be in the machine all the time.
The ideal feeder would be one that is electrically controlled and that could rewind when not in use to prevent components from getting lost.
The Hover Davis QP or MPF feeder seemed ideal, it is easily controlled by an electrical pulse and could rewind if needed. This would be ideal for the large format components i.e. 12mm and larger tape. For the 8mm tape I found the Fuji KG 0804 feeder which seemed up to the task.
The next step was seeing how these feeders can be integrated into the FVX. As the MPF was shaped strangely it would not be suitable in the left of the FVX as the head would hit it every time it wanted to pick a component. The QP would be a better bet, but as I bought a ton of MPF that ship had sailed.
The image above shows a QP feeder in a prototype holder with some Actobotics parts to hold the feeder in position.
This image shows the Fuji feeder and what would be required to hold that in position.
The feeder holders were modeled in Fusion. One of our customers, Thrive Aquatics, could machine a holder for us out of any material that we wanted, as this was a prototype we opted for 3/4″ thick Acrylic. This is the same material that large fish tanks are constructed from. We can always machine it our of aluminum when were are happy with the result.
The image below is the holder that we machined for the Hover Davis feeders.
The metal plate in front was bent to the perfect angle to keep the feeders in position when they are inserted.
This image is the holder for the Fuji feeder, the aluminum plate was inserted a little lower than the clip on the feeder, the mounting screws were also set forward on the plate. This gave some downward force to hold the feeder in position.
We machined both holders to hold the feeders at the correct position to give us a component height of 120mm so that the camera would be able to focus perfectly on the components. This can be seen below in the 2 images captured from the FVX software.
The feeders in action
The Fuji feeder is perfect for 0402 as the FVX software can have multiple components per pulse in this case 2 per 4mm pulse.
The 0603 components are set to a higher speed so they go a lot faster.
And finally the Hover Davis.
As can be seen above, everything is working very well. We have knocked out a couple of hundred boards from 5 different designs since we got the new setup.
It is easiest to set up the most common feeders i.e. USB micro connector in the last slot and have it as a global feeder and then set up the board feeders for each board and insert/remove them when needed.
This concludes the mechanical part of the project. In part 3 I will cover the software and hardware parts required, and what roadblocks needed to be overcome in order to get everything working.