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Count On Tools’ StripFeeder Series Hits Triple Crown with NPI Award

Posted by Z.Shook on 3/31/2014 to Articles and Awards

Count On Tools Inc. (COT), a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, announces that it has been awarded a 2014 NPI Award in the category of Automation Tools for its StripFeeder Modular (.mod) System version 2. The award was presented to the company during a Tuesday, March 25, 2014 ceremony that took place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center during the IPC APEX EXPO. The StripFeeder System is the ideal solution for loading tape-and-reel components onto compact modules for prototyping and high-mix low-volume applications. This marks the company’s third award for the StripFeeder Series in the last year.          

The latest version of the StripFeeder Modular (.mod) System features a mechanical lock-spring to hold the tape in place by the sprocket hole for part registration and repeatable pick-and-place applications. This means the user only has to teach the pick-up location one time and consistently reload the unit with the same parts over and over for longer runs. Additionally, the StripFeeder .mod System version 2 features removable rails that can be mounted to accommodate a wide array of tape sizes in the same feeder. Unlike the fixed width version, the StripFeeder .mod can be adjusted by removing the rails and re-positioning them on the base plate at the desired width (4mm pitched hole pattern). The rails align with precision pin locaters and lock down tightly with magnets to guarantee a stable, repeatable application. Customers who have already purchased StripFeeder System can contact COT about upgrading their systems to the latest version.

Premiering in 2008, the NPI Awards program is an annual celebration of product excellence in electronics surface mount assembly. Premier products based on the finest examples of creative advancement in technology are chosen by a distinguished panel of industry experts.

Count On Tools Announces Support Plates for the ezLOAD Board Support System

Posted by Z.Shook on 3/28/2014 to New SMT Products

Count On Tools Inc. (COT), a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, has announced the release of the new support plates for its line of ezLOAD Board Supports. By utilizing the support plates on the ezLOAD modules, customers can limit the movement of the ESD-safe foam fingers while shortening the compression height. This provides enhanced support for heavy load procedures. The ezLOAD Support Plates are available in 1/4" (0.25) and 3/8" (0.375) heights.

The new ezLOAD PCB Support System features a precision-machined aluminum base with magnetic supports and soft, ESD-safe foam fingers. The ezLOAD system not only reduces changeover times, but also improves product build quality, increases revenues by providing significant cost savings, and eliminates component damage during the assembly process.

Count On Tools’ ezLOAD PAD features active grip technology to securely hold boards during the manufacturing process and is ESD-safe. With the basic universal design, there are no mechanical functions to fail. The system requires no air, electronics or communication from the user. Most importantly, the ezLOAD PCB Support System is affordable compared to competitive products on the market.

The ezLOAD PCB Support System is compatible with any SMT equipment, from pick-and-place to chip shooters, screen printers, dispensers, AOI equipment and more. The soft, flexible design makes it extremely durable and is proven to be reliable after testing in the most hazardous conditions. The ezLOAD PCB Support System is customizable depending on machine requirements, specialized components or specific design application requirements.

Count On Tools Expands Selective Soldering Nozzles for Pillarhouse Equipment

Posted by Z.Shook on 3/26/2014 to New SMT Products

Count On Tools Inc. (COT), a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, announces that it now offers ID threaded versions of the Pillarhouse AP universal nozzles for its entire line of selective soldering machines. COT offers the OD threaded versions of the nozzles as well.

As Selective soldering becomes more popular in the electronics manufacturing industry, COT has realized the need for higher quality selective solder nozzles that can consistently apply flux and solder to component leads without disturbing nearby SMT components. By utilizing superior steel alloys made in the USA, along with the latest precision machining technologies, COT is able to produce selective soldering nozzles that have been proven to be more durable and last longer than those from the OEM, while still maintaining all of the original design properties.

The nozzles are available in all standards sizes; from 2.5mm to 14mm. Count On Tools also can provide identification marks that enable customers to easily identify leaded nozzles from lead-free versions. Additionally, COT offers custom selective solder nozzles based on specific application requirements. This includes special wave form sizes, multi-port and extended or shortened lengths.

“Our goal with this product line is to offer our customers a more cost-effective selective solder nozzle that will not only last longer than conventional nozzles, but will also outperform OEM nozzles in terms of accuracy and consistency,” said Zachery Shook, Marketing Director at Count On Tools, Inc. “It is our obligation to assist customers that wish to incorporate lean manufacturing into their operations by offering solutions that allow them to automate processes and become more streamlined in the production of circuit board assemblies.”

All nozzles are guaranteed to function properly with the original equipment. Every selective solder nozzle manufactured by Count On Tools comes standard with a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. If any customer is not 100 percent satisfied with the performance or quality of a product, Count On Tools will replace it or offer a full refund.

Nortech Systems Counts on the ezLOAD Board Support System to Reduce Changeover and Increase Revenues

Posted by Z.Shook on 3/24/2014 to Articles and Awards

Based in Wayzata, MN, Nortech Systems Inc. is a full-service electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider of wire and cable assemblies, printed circuit board assemblies (PCBA) and higher-level complete box build assemblies for a wide range of industries. Markets served include industrial equipment, aerospace/defense and medical. The company’s expertise includes medical device, industrial equipment, military/aerospace, machine vision, EMS contract manufacturing and wire & cable assembly solutions. Additionally, the company has a wide range of specialized, high-tech facilities used for the customized design, manufacture, testing and repair of its contract manufacturing solutions and cable assembly operations.

Over the years, the company has realized that circuit board designs have continued to become smaller and more densely populated. These designs use many fine-pitch components on both sides of the circuit. With these changes have come challenges in achieving adequate solder transfer during the screen printing process. After analyzing the process, Nortech Systems discovered that one of the biggest difficulties was providing adequate support for double-sided boards.

“We began to notice a growing failure trend related to the printing process. Solder bridging, solder voiding and inconsistent printing causing line stoppages prompted us to start looking at our options for achieving consistent and efficient printing,” said Michael Fritz, Maintenance Technician at Nortech Systems. “Several of the options that were tested came with new challenges, including increased setup times and rubber tooling tips that would wear out and cause component damage. We also tried reducing array sizes to reduce the need for boards; however, this option can increase board costs and reduce throughput.”

To combat these issues, the company looked to Count On Tools for its ezLOAD universal board supports.

Fritz confided that he was fairly skeptical that the flexible fingers would be adequate when printed double-sided boards. As a result, Nortech Systems requested a demo and tested it out in the following applications:

  • 150-piece production run of a 14-up assembly array (7 x 2) with 10 mil BGA apertures. This test resulted in zero defects on the BGA. This was great news and the customer was pleased with the increased quality of its product.
  • 100-piece production run of a 6-up assembly array (6 x 1) with extensive routing and S0-8 package components located at the edges of the circuit that were known to produce solder bridging. The test run was completed with zero defects on the S0-8 components.

Not only did the company reduce or even eliminate defects, it also decreased the amount of changeover time with the ease that the ezLOAD printed circuit board (PCB) support system provides. Nortech Systems has now tested the board support system on four different assemblies known to have solder voids and solder bridging and has achieved great results each time.

Count On Tools’ ezLOAD PCB support system not only reduces changeover times, but improves product build quality, increases revenues by providing significant cost savings, and can eliminate component damage during the assembly process.

The ezLOAD system features a modular universal design with only two parts: the support pad and the base. There are no mechanical functions to fail and it requires no air, electronics or communication from the user. The support pads feature ESD-safe active grip technology to securely hold boards during the assembly process. The support pads are capable of supporting densely populated, double-sided boards. The ezLOAD support pads are extremely durable because of the soft, flexible design, and are proven to be reliable after testing in the most hazardous conditions. Additionally, the ezLOAD base is precision machined from aircraft grade aluminum alloys to provide a strong and reliable support for boards. The magnetic locking base enables a quick, easy installation in the user’s machine. Other base designs are available for machines that feature non-magnetic tables.

Most importantly, the ezLOAD PCB Support System is affordable compared to competitive products on the market. Each component can be replaced or upgraded based on the customer’s specific product, equipment or application. The ezLOAD PCB Support System is simple to use: Simply place the unit on the equipment’s board support table and align as required. Multiple units can be arranged in rows (X & Y) for more support on larger boards. The ezLOAD PCB Support System is compatible with any SMT equipment, from pick-and-place to chipshooters, screen printers, dispensers, AOI and more. The ezLOAD system can be customized depending on machine requirements, specialized components or specific design application requirements.

“With the ezLOAD system, we continue to notice a significant reduction in defects on component issues including micro BGAs, fine-pitch ICs and leadless components,” added Fritz.

 For more information about Nortech Systems, contact Michael Fritz at 1120 Wayzata Blvd. East, Suite 201; Wayzata, MN 55391; 952-345-2244; Web site: www.nortechsys.com.