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Count On Tools Introduces PB Swiss Tools’ New Crosshandle Screwdriver with Rapid Turn Sleeve

Posted by Z. Shook on 6/5/2010 to New PB Products

Count On Tools Inc., a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, announces that PB Swiss Tools’ popular long PB Crosshandle Screwdriver (PB 207LT) for hexagon socket screws is now available with a rapid turn sleeve.

The rapid turn sleeve allows precise control of the blade with one hand and rapid turning with the other. This is ideal in applications such as industrial environments, where quick equipment repairs are necessary. This PB Crosshandle Screwdriver was designed to speed up the process of tightening and loosening long bolts and fasteners.

The PB Crosshandle Screwdriver is optimally shaped to suit the hand. The unique ergonomic shape was created by an industrial design firm to eliminate the strain on the users’ wrist during tightening and loosening functions. The asymmetric form enables effortless application of high torque to the fastener, which in-turn reduces the chance of it stripping.

PB Crosshandle Screwdrivers feature slip-proof handles and optimally transmit the applied energy. The handles are autoclaveable up to 120°C and are resistant to harsh chemicals such as gasoline, acetone, etc. Additionally, the soft handle coating comprised of Santoprene® transfers high hand torque onto the screws effortlessly.

PB Swiss Tools’ Crosshandle Screwdrivers are available in three different handle sizes, depending on the screw profile and size. Each handle features a distinct shape, specifically designed for maximum torque range and ergonomic capability of the tool.

Every PB Crosshandle Screwdriver is color-coded according to screw type for fast identification and ease of use.

PB Swiss Tools Crosshandle Screwdrivers

Small Crosshandle:

  • Quick turning
  • Tightening and loosening with thumb and forefinger
  • Available for 3mm tools
PB Swiss Tools Crosshandle Screwdrivers

Medium Crosshandle:
  • The egg-shaped contouring prevents pressure points in the fully closed hand
  • The asymmetrical shape keeps the wrist straight and protects it from strain
  • Available for 4-5mm tools
PB Swiss Tools Crosshandle Screwdrivers

Large Crosshandle:
  • Safe exertion of highest hand torque
  • Optimal fit in the hand
  • The asymmetrical shape keeps the wrist straight and protects it from strain
  • Available for 6-10mm tools
With more than 130 years of experience, PB Swiss Tools is a global leader of hand tools manufactured for use in the industrial marketplace, even for the most hazardous jobs. All PB Swiss Tools are 100 percent Swiss-made and come with an unlimited lifetime guarantee.

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Count On Tools Releases PB Swiss Tools’ Holding Ring Hex Keys

Posted by Z. Shook on 6/4/2010 to New PB Products

Count On Tools Inc., a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, has released PB Swiss Tools’ Holding Ring Hex Keys. The new hex keys allow fasteners to be inserted or removed in hard to reach locations without the fastener falling off the tool and without sacrificing strength.

PB Swiss Tools’ hex key L-wrenches for hexagonal socket screws (mm) are now equipped with a holding ring on the ball end. The inlaid circlip spring ring holds screws firmly onto the tool, which facilitates work on difficult to reach areas.

Because the holding ring is inlaid, wearing out the functionality of the feature over time is no longer a concern. Also, this allows movement up to 30° when tightening and loosening the screw.

Advantages of PB Swiss Tools’ Holding Ring include:

  • Holds screws securely on tool
  • Allows insertion or extraction without dropping the fastener
  • Inserts into screws at up to 30° angle (highest on the market!)
  • Allows insertion or extraction in difficult to reach places
  • Turns a full 360° at up to a 30° angle
  • Engages to full depth of screw head
  • Available in small sizes (down to 2.5mm)
  • Does not weaken the tool or the ball point functionality
  • Increased holding power in the screw head thanks to the circlip
  • Saves time and increases productivity by making the job easier

With more than 130 years of experience, PB Swiss Tools is a global leader of hand tools manufactured for use in the industrial marketplace, even for the most hazardous jobs. All PB Swiss Tools are 100 percent Swiss-made and come with an unlimited lifetime guarantee.

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Count On Tools Introduces 300-Series Nozzles for Assembleon and Yamaha Equipment

Posted by Z. Shook on 6/3/2010 to New SMT Products

Count On Tools Inc., a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, has released a full line of standard 300-series nozzles for the Assembleon MC-24 and MC-24X as well as the Yamaha YG300. The new line is capable of handling components sizes from 01005 to larger BGA and QFPs for large mix and minimum changeover to optimize production lines.

The 300-Series product line is the only direct replacement for OEM nozzles on the market that offers a high productivity, low-cost alternative to OEM nozzles. Count On Tools knows that productivity is important to stay ahead of the competition and to maintain profitability. As a result, the company developed the 300-series nozzles.

In addition, Count On Tools can provide customers with custom engineered nozzles for odd form components, such as LEDs, connectors and sockets, as well as a variety of other components. The company can provide finished custom nozzles within 1-2 days with savings up to 50 percent less than OEM nozzles.

According to R. Hinken, a process technician from one of Count On Tools’ US-based EMS customers, “When we decided to buy the new MC24X from Assembleon, I knew that I would be contacting Count On Tools for all of my special nozzle needs. I have worked with Count On Tools for many years, and through using them, I have come to rely on their professional opinion and expertise on making nozzles for our more complex parts.  Even with the new platform from Assembleon, Count On Tools was able to manufacture the special nozzles I needed and have them delivered to me in time for installation and production start up of the new MC24X. Their ‘can do’ approach to any situation, backed by their attention to detail and high quality manufacturing has made Count On Tools my only choice for all of my special nozzle needs.”

The MC-24 series pick-and-place machines are said to be one of the most flexible and space-efficient machines in the industry, offering unmatched capability for its size.

“Our goal with this product line is to offer our customers a more cost-effective nozzle that will not only last as long as or longer than conventional nozzles, but also will improve pick-and-place accuracy rates so that customers can stay ahead of the rapid evolution of electronics manufacturing," said Zachery Shook, Marketing Director of Count On Tools, Inc.

All nozzles are guaranteed to function properly with the original equipment. Every selective 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.

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Lighting the Way: LEDs in SMT Production

Posted by Z. Shook on 6/2/2010 to Articles and Awards

Recent growth in LED technology and solid state lighting has provided the electronics manufacturing industry with viable solutions for its addition into today’s electronic devices. LEDs have become an alternative light source to conventional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. The electronics manufacturing industry sees the greatest benefits from the small size and lower power consumption of today’s LEDs.

There also is the recent trend to “Go Green” and the use of “Green Technology” in consumer and commercial electronics. LED components offer high brightness and power efficiency for electronics manufacturers. LEDs also offer lower carbon emissions than traditional technologies such as incandescent and halogen lighting. This aspect has made LED lighting popular with government organizations, which are now installing LED lighting in public places and government offices worldwide.

When used for illumination purposes, LEDs are more cost-effective than traditional lighting sources. Thus, the global LED component market is witnessing an increasing demand. As a result, companies in the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) industry are expanding their manufacturing capabilities to meet this demand. High brightness LED components currently are experiencing high growth as the backlighting application in TVs is shifting from traditional CCFL technology to LED technology. The range of new and potential applications for LEDs in electronics is practically endless.

In order for electronics manufacturers to get these LEDs into their products, they must use one of two methods: hand assembly or automated assembly. Hand assembly is where skilled technicians carefully place individual LED components onto circuit boards using specialized tooling. This is a long, tedious process that can slow the production rates of electronic devices and tie up major labor resources. On the other hand, automated assembly uses the company’s existing SMT equipment to quickly and efficiently place thousands of LED components every hour. Most SMT equipment is capable of placing multiple components on a circuit board at one time, increasing the overall production rates while decreasing labor costs. Obviously, the goal of a high-volume electronics manufacturing company would be to transition assembly into automated production.

No SMT equipment can place components accurately or run efficiently without quality nozzles and feeders. These two factors are the core of the pick-and-place process. If the machine is either unable to pick parts consistently or hold on to the components during the transport from feeder to PCB, defects will result. An increase in defects means a decrease in production, costing the company more money over a short period of time. Proper feeder and nozzle selection is critical, especially with the current market growth and technological advancements in SMT equipment.

At first sight, the principle of using vacuum pressure and precision nozzles to enable component placement are basic and straightforward. It is a process that is repeated in every type of SMT equipment. There are five distinct stages of the pick-and-place process:

  1. Picking ― components are withdrawn from a feeder or tray by a vacuum nozzle.
  2. Holding ― components are steadied for rapid movement while the machine detects proper alignment.
  3. Transport ― components are transferred from the picking location to the PCB for assembly.
  4. Placement ― components are lowered to their specific location on the circuit board.
  5. Release ― components are released by the nozzle, which returns to the picking area to restart the process.

Nozzles are the first and last thing to touch all components placed, and they move tens of thousands of these parts every hour. With components sizes reaching microscopic proportions, nozzle manufacturers must strive to maintain precision tolerances and exact dimensions in their designs. These nozzles are required to hold the part during transport to the board while the machine is moving and/or rotating at high speeds. Electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers must use this technology to get LED components into their customer’s products.

Debron Industrial Electronics, Inc. is a leading EMS provider specializing in high-technology electronic assemblies, printed circuit board assemblies, electronic wiring, cable assemblies and box build. According to Mark Hoch, SMTA Certified Process Engineer for Debron, “We are a contract manufacturer that caters to several customers specializing in cutting-edge LED technologies.  They rely on our expertise to develop, document, implement and sustain their manufacturing processes.” When one of its customers needed a product that required the placement of LED components in its design, Debron decided to move forward with the automated assembly process.

Since making the transition, Debron has helped several of its customers to fully automate the production of products that previously had been assembled by hand. The company was able to do this by creating custom pick-and-place trays for LEDs that were available only in bulk for hand assembly. Debron also has been working with tooling companies such as Count On Tools, Inc. to develop custom pick-and-place nozzles that enable LEDs to be picked, vision centered and placed with high-speed, automated SMT assembly equipment. Streamlining the automated placement process has allowed Debron to free needed manpower to use in other areas of the assembly process.

As with any new project, there are some challenges associated with the placement of LED components in the SMT production environment. It is the goal of the EMS provider to overcome each of these obstacles to cut production costs and provide quality product to its customers and their end users. Some of the major challenges that EMS companies face when trying to place LED components in SMT production include:

1. Component handling in the feeder. During the picking process, LED components are withdrawn from the feeder by a vacuum nozzle. SMT technicians must ensure that the LED components are correctly positioned in the feeder pocket to guarantee that pick-up is achieved and that the LED is properly handled during the transport stages. Slop in the pocket may require nozzle centering during the picking process while excessively fast advancements of the feeder may skew the part in the pocket, preventing component pick-up.

2. Component handling on the nozzle and proper nozzle selection. Some LED technologies, such as CREE® LED components, require special handling operations to prevent damage to the optical lens. They must avoid placing mechanical stress on the LED lens by not touching the optical surface during the component picking or placement processes. This eliminates the possibility of degraded performance from the LED after the circuit board is assembled. Proper nozzle selection also is important for the transport and placement processes. Not only does the SMT nozzle have to pick the component, it also must move it to the board and accurately place it. Most LED suppliers work directly with nozzle and tooling manufacturers, like Count On Tools, to develop nozzle designs that meet their individual process requirements.

3. LED sensitivity. The fragile optical surface is not the only issue with the use of LEDs in SMT production. Early LED designs were very temperature-sensitive, forcing assembly using unconventional methods, such as hand assembly. LEDs often were bonded to heat dissipative substrates using conductive epoxies or low-temperature solders. This required special assembly processes that lengthened the manufacturing process, increasing product build costs.

4. Scaling up to high-volume production. As LEDs become more robust, assembly via means of more conventional assembly processes such as automated SMT equipment allows EMS companies like Debron to focus on other challenges such as repeatable part picking and vision centering, as well as effectively increasing throughput and minimizing defects. Repeatable performance is the major challenge with scaling up to high-volume production. EMS providers must strive to maintain a high level of performance to keep their production on track to meet customer demands. This requires fine tuning the assembly process.

As with any problems in a production environment, there is always a solution. By capitalizing on its current knowledge of SMT production and partnerships with quality suppliers, Debron was able to overcome most of the challenges associated with this process. Debron developed custom trays for the LED components to allow for more accurate picking and transport processes while eliminating issues with component handling in the feeder. It also worked with its equipment manufacturers and custom tooling manufacturers such as Count On Tools, Inc. to develop custom SMT pick-and-place nozzles that increase LED/nozzle compatibility, allowing for greater placement accuracy and increased throughput.

Due to the partnership with Count On Tools, Inc., Debron was able to fine tune its automated assembly process and scale up to high-volume production of LEDs. Using the custom nozzle that it purchased from Count On Tools, Inc., Debron was able to reduce LED fallout to 2.3 percent. Defect rates dropped significantly and first pass yields increased steadily up to 99.4 percent.

According to Curt Couch, President of Count On Tools, Inc., “Count On Tools understands that in order for our customers to remain competitive in today’s market, they must be able to cut costs while simultaneously maximizing the capabilities of their SMT assembly equipment to prevent costly investments in new equipment or increased labor from hand placements of odd-form components. This line of custom LED nozzles allows us to help customers achieve better placements with odd-form components in their machines while saving them money.”

Count On Tools, Inc. is a leading provider of precision components and SMT spare parts, and offers a complete series of custom SMT pick-and-place nozzles for all types of LED components. By working closely with the LED component manufacturers, Count On Tools guarantees secure picking of all fragile components and accurate placement on the circuit board.

Joshua Markle, Applications Technical Associate for CREE® Inc., commented, “I have been working with Count On Tools for the past year. In this time it has gone above and beyond expectations with the construction of the pick-and-place tooling that CREE recommends in our documentation. CREE is a leader in the manufacturing of LEDs for the solid state lighting industry. We have released multiple products in the past year and Count On Tools has helped to provide a proper pick-and-place tool to be used with CREE products. It has provided outstanding service with an amazing turnaround time during the development of the tooling. I would recommend the work that Count On Tools provides to anyone looking for a quality pick-and-place tool with knowledgeable, friendly and expedient service.”

In conclusion, the latest LED technology opens up wide areas for new applications, new technical possibilities and reduced costs in both the SMT and electronics manufacturing industries. Today, many companies are crossing traditional business boundaries and streaming into the LED lighting market. This, in turn, has created a large demand for LED use in general markets and not the traditional niche applications. By partnering with component manufacturers and nozzle/tooling suppliers, EMS companies like Debron can guarantee success by lighting the way for customers seeking LEDs in their SMT production.

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Article written by Zachery Shook, Marketing Director at Count On Tools, Inc.

SMT Preventive Maintenance: Stop 5 Major Problems with Pick-and-place Nozzles

Posted by Z. Shook on 6/1/2010 to Articles and Awards