The new Raspberry Pi B Model B+ is here - Pick one up in the store and check our detailed guide!

EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:48 pm

Hi

I am looking for a frameless stencil printer.

I found this here:

http://www.eurocircuits.de/index.php/stencil

http://www.youtube.com/user/eurocircuits

Has anyone experience with this device - or can recommend an other printer with similar funtionality (print using framless stencils - much cheaper)

The stencils need to have two extra holes for registration, the dimensions are well explained, so finally quite independent to other manufacturers.


Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by mikeselectricstuff on Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:06 pm

I've had one of these for a while.
Generally I'd say it's pretty good, and certainly miles better than any setup that does not allow for good tensioning of stencils.
I did need to do a minor mod to stop the springs that hold the stencil clamps open from falling out.

I sometimes find it hard to get the stencil dead flat against the PCB, especially on 0.8mm PCB - the rear adjustment doesn't seem to go quite low enough - I've not quite figured out exactly why yet.
The prop that holds it open can also be a bit dodgy.

However I did spend quit a time looking and didn't find anything else for a similar price that looked any good for use with cheap, random-sized unframed stencils.
The alignment system works pretty well as long as the hole sizes are accurate, although I suspect fine pitch towards the top of tall PCBs may become marginal.

It is possible to use it with stencils without tooling holes at a pinch, by placing the PCB holders on a scrap stencil and sliding/knocking it to align - a bit of a pain but handy for old stencils or if you forgot to add the tooling holes.

Stencil printers in general seem to be expensive for what is basically a hinged frame, and I'm sure there must be a way to do it cheaper given some design effort - I was wondwring if something could be made with thick FR4 PCB material for the structural parts instead of metal.
mikeselectricstuff
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 8:21 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:24 am

Hi

many Thanks for your Feedback on this.

For what I am going to do with, it sounds like a good choice for me.


Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:02 am

I do have one at work but I confess I keep using (a LOT !) their ec-stencil-fix. Faster to setup, no issue, no centering problem, does a quite repetitive job with accuracy. If you have a huge run of single boards (100's of prints / day), their bigger stencil printer is nice, also if you have bottom parts and you do a 2 stage assembly. My boards are small and 10 per panel, so I "only" have to do 10 prints for 100 boards, then I'm good, so the stencil-fix jig does the job.

oh, it's only 15€ a pop, so it doesn't hurt to have one in the shop neither !
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:47 am

Hi Vincent

thank for Feedback. I use the fix as well, for small borads quite OK - since I like it I thought their printer will be an "upgrade" to usability and quality of print. anyway, the fix won't work for thin or double sided PCBs.

Btw. what kind of Reflow Oven are you using?

Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Mon Sep 03, 2012 10:27 am

linus,
very welcome. For double sided boards, even for thick ones, you can always cut the ec-fix to allow clearance for bottom parts (I do my bottoms first then top). It ends that my bottom parts are slightly thicker than a regular PCB (1.6mm-ish) so I put the ec-fix on some pieces of board (junk wood pieces eurocircuit ships with my PCB which are sandwiched between them). Now, I agree that if you have tall electrolytic capacitors on the side you print on second stage, you're in trouble and the actual printer is the thing to use. I admit that I really orient my designs to have very little and thin parts on the bottom side for that reason.

I use the EC-reflow oven. I bought it at work and I was very happy with it. I can bake 2 to 4 panels so that 20-40 boards in 6 minutes + cooling time. Not as efficient as a tunnel oven but my wife will kill me if I install one of those in the basement while still pretending to have clearance to park a car and be on a budget. That would be 2 lies in less than 5 seconds, world record, call the Guiness :lol:
More seriously, I've used a DIY reflow oven for the past 3 years and I had to change one heating element which started to be expensive (old oven, rare & expensive parts) so it was killing the DIY well. Too bad as it was working very well but my broke intern will be happy to get it for free to get started with SMD at home !
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:21 am

Hi

again, thanks for feedback :) and don't lie tu much to your wife :wink:

Btw, I just about to deceide weather to get the T200C+ or the ec-reflow-mate and have no clue what is better/best choice. Both come to exactly the same price ...

Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:39 am

I don't know much about the T200 however, here are things to check, aside of RAW price.
(Those are EC oven features, I'm not saying the T200 doesn't have them, I don't know, but check)

- shipping cost
- service and spare parts. Eurocircuit is in europe.
- EC oven comes with 2 thermo couple + an extra one that you can eventually attach to the PCB for another temperature monitoring to improve the profile. Extra thermo couple is provided
- EC has several program you can recall without the computer
- EC has a glass front door, it's cool too watch your reflow process and check certain things visually
- EC has an automatic door opening to cool down boards quicker. Door opening temp is configurable and part of the profile / program
- EC has thermal insulation panels so that the oven body doesn't become crazy hot
- EC tray is composed of a mesh with round holes in which fit spacer so that you can elevate the PCB if you don't want it to touch the tray)
- EC does part baking and preheat to dry parts if necessary
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:48 am

Hi

how good is the temperature distribution across large boards? Is it within a reasonable range?

Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:06 am

I believe it's good even if I did no measure the evenness. My boards and panels had consistent reflow and solder aspect. My panels measure 13x15 cm

the ceramic heating bars measure the whole width of the oven compartment, and you have 3 of those spaced evenly over a depth of 28-30 cm, so I believe it's very even.
In addition, there's a fan, so it's like in a circulating air cooking oven, that's what is making the temp really even I think.
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:12 am

sounds good though :) ever soldered D2PAK ? ... for my DIY oven the most challenging thing though!
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:48 am

no D2PACK but I had SOT-223 which is similar, just the backplate that isn't as big.
The backplate might be the issue you have I guess, as the leads should be no problem. The large surface (hence heat inertia) of the backplate make it not reflowing. Make sure your design has thermals ON, cause it the part backplate connected to a huge ground plane with no thermal, all the heat goes in the plane and not on the backplate, causing reflow issues.
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:33 am

this is exactly the problem. I can't do termals because I need high currents trasfered and tests with termals=on showed high termal stress on the connctions during operation conditions. Anyway, i get it to reflow, within JEDEC limits, but my DIY oven reaches end of live, so hard I beat it :twisted: this is why I look for something better...

I will let you know ...
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by vincentp on Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:56 am

same happened to me with my DIY reflow equipment, reason why I bought the EC, same one as I use at work. Good luck with your purchase.
vincentp
 
Posts: 98
Joined: Tue May 15, 2012 2:29 am

Re: EC-Stencil-Mate

by heli_linus on Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:36 pm

Hi

had many hands-on session for SMT equipment last week ... WOW ...

The printer, I got it, I like it. For what I need, I can recommend it. If you do low volume, many different designs, even one-offs I think this is really good value-for-money.

The Oven, not sure....

It does quite well, but the board has to be fairly small, no more than 15-20cm, in this center Area, temp stays within 5deg.C. - Around this, we measured differences from up to 20 deg.C., lower. Again, the overall thing still seems good value for money, just .... not sure.

The feedback for the Oven might not very helpfull, but, that is just my impression. Looking for perfection, which I possibly canßt get for this budget :(

No decision yet, keep you posted!

Cheers
Linus
heli_linus
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:32 pm