Tech Takes


Guest blogged by Anuj on April 12, 2008.

I am currently waiting for a .pdf plug-in to download in order to continue working, life is so pathetic just when I had found the perfect page which had everything I was looking for, and my browser tells me that I forgot to install the plug in. I wish I owned a laptop using other somebody else’s computer is a hazard for my mental health. Anyway, I can’t complain because he just showed me one of the most insanely great things I have ever seen, see the ‘he’ in question is my father’s friend and he owns a TV factory which is partially automated and it’s a fully functional assembly line, ah, now this was fun I have spent more than 6 hours in this place walking around seeing CNC machines, I saw automatic insertion machines both radial and axial types, an insanely great wave soldering machine, which I know I can make better, and I also an EDM cutting out a mold. I even tried my hand in screwing CRTs but I underestimated the force and the pneumatic screw driver flew off into void, embarrassing.

Oh dear it’s 20 MB and it will take a while. Anyway I saw everything, tried my hand at everything and played around with everything, it was almost as if I owned the place, and uncle enjoyed having me around I had an insanely great day. Anyway I was looking at the wave soldering machine and I realized that a lot of material is wasted in the process, why don’t they take a pneumatic head put the PCBs on one of those awesome XY tables, and then mount a heated tube on the head and then solder it this way, in order to save time they could use multiple heads at one time in a specific sequence, maybe use parallel processing architecture to manage them, turns out that I was dead wrong. See it takes some amount of time about 3 seconds or so for the solder to stick and get cooled in order to form the bead, this way one or even multiple heads will take more time than the same machine to do the same task. However, as you can imagine the wave machine has lots of problems, the beads maybe too big, or sometimes two points stick together, which can short the circuit. They, thus, have to be manually checked for faults before the final assembly. So my idea can trade off that time for a little more time in the soldering process, but then again, there are feasibility problems.

Someday, I will make it and see if it works, or I will find someone who has and then see his/her work. The next thing I noticed was the cooling facility for the water they use as a coolant. I think that it’s inefficient what they can do is that they can immerse Freon pipes in the tank and circulate it around, thus cooling the water. This will take lesser amount of time, so water consumption can be reduced, maybe there’s a commercial solution out there that does exactly this; if anyone knows, then please leave a message.

I think that one of the most amazing things I saw today was the automatic insertion machines (there are two kinds radial and axial, the radial machine puts in the vertical components like capacitors and the axial one puts in the horizontal ones like resistors), see what I loved about the process was the precision involved, a mistake of a few millimeters is very costly. What it essentially does is that it puts in the components into PCBs, in a few seconds. They have an XY table which moves the PCB, a pneumatic head that has this nifty crankshaft mechanism, and a cutter at the bottom. The parts are feed in on a tape and, boom! the head goes down slices the leads and puts them into the exact co-ordinate they are supposed to be in, then immediately the other head at the bottom comes up and cuts the out the excess lead sticking out of the bottom; it’s like magic. What I didn’t like was that the fact that programming it is a very, very arduous task, one has to specify co-ordinate after co-ordinate, which are measured before hand, into the machine in a specific sequence so that it matches with the part on the tape. What they can do is that they can make a scanner which scans a PCB and makes a computer representation of the PCB, no that won’t do what we need is perhaps an ANN (artificial neural network) which over time learns where the errors are and avoids those tasks which cause the errors, and maybe find a better way. That’s highly unlikely but I would love to understand their software and the algorithms they use.

I also liked the electrical discharge machine, see what you have is a copper master, which is pushed down on the block, along with electrical discharge while kerosene, a dielectric material, flows over it or it’s in a kerosene bath. The metal erodes away and the master is pushed further and further down, just imagine the precision and the almost impossible cuts that can be achieved. It’s seriously an insanely great product. Imagine the die was so precisely cut, it was a very, very impressive sight, sure it takes a few hours but it does almost impossible cuts. I mean it was awesome no it was really insanely great, not to mention impressive. I am seriously on cloud number 9 right now, I can live here, and I would love to do that.

In short, it was like a trip to Disney land and I am coming back on Monday!! Oh no, the download was interrupted, so I am starting it again, maybe I’ll make something like the insertion machine out of Lego, hmm that’s a good idea, but how…

One more thing, it’s the anniversary of Gagarin’s space flight today, have fun celebrating Yuri’s night!!


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