Saline Lectronics’ process engineers are responsible for the design, operation, control and optimization of all electronic manufacturing processes. Our team of process engineers work in collaboration to design new, innovative processes for first time build assemblies. They also work to modify and improve current builds and systems. Thoroughly examining all stages of the electronic manufacturing process to improve quality, throughput and overall operational efficiency, Lectronics’ process engineers are the magicians behind the manufacturing curtain helping to make it all possible.
Our process engineers are expert problem solvers. If there’s a manufacturing issue, they implement a solution. In many cases, they even improve processes that were originally thought to be working well by identifying opportunities to work smarter, not harder.
Most recently, this team did a thorough review of tool and equipment utilization. They looked at a variety of tools on the electronic manufacturing floor and asked the following questions:
- Is the tool being used to its full potential?
- Are there other unidentified uses for the tool?
- Can the tool be easily converted to support different uses?
Through this analysis, two manufacturing tools were identified as under-utilized with availability for additional usages – Maker Gear M2 3D printer and Schunk de-panelization router.
Our M2 3D printer is a small, efficient desktop printer in an affordable package. It offers industrial level printing quality and produces consistent results. The printer was originally acquired based on a suggestion from a client. Alex Johnson, process engineer, was tasked with setting up the printer and finding the best use for it.
Now known as our 3D printing guru, Johnson’s ingenuity has turned the printer into a multi-faceted tool that is used on a regular basis to print custom fixtures for a variety of manufacturing processes. Printing tools that help the manufacturing process flow more efficiently, this 3D printer is a reliable source for creating custom boots, fixtures and trays.
This simple 3D printer has helped to alleviate a variety of production challenges. For example, rather than hand taping sensitive components on a PCB assembly prior to the conformal coating process, we’ve printed custom boots to protect said components. The 3D printed boots are re-usable and don’t require hand labor, thus improving efficiency and reducing cost.
Additionally, the 3D printer was used to create a custom fixture that helps to securely and accurately place stand-offs for an LCD screen that goes on a PCBA product. The fixture presses in all of the stand-offs simultaneously, which not only improves quality, but also refines the awkward ergonomics of placing the stand-offs. Overall, the 3D printer allows us to quickly design, build and validate custom tooling solutions in-house.
The SAR-800-B 1-CL high-performance Schunk router was originally acquired by Lectronics to de-panelize odd-shaped and high-reliability PCBAs. The low pressure router runs daily on the manufacturing floor and offers consistent and accurate de-panelization results. Due to the machine’s built-in drawing software, the router is also well suited to cut and build custom 2D fixtures out of FR-4 material.
Having the flexibility to design and prototype fixtures in-house that normally would have been sent to a machine shop for fabrication saves a significant amount of time and money. Additionally, our process engineers have better control over the fixture’s performance as they’re able to make necessary adjustments in real-time during production.
By properly investigating and analyzing tool utilization, our process engineers made a dramatic impact to manufacturing efficiency in key operational areas. As shown in the examples above, converting these tools to be used for multiple applications didn’t cost any money, and still improved quality and process efficiency.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog in this series where we’ll share the latest process engineering improvements we’ve made to our conformal coating process. Coming August 23rd!