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Update: Click here to see Part 2 of the video.

Yes, there have been lots of new updates recently. Among them is a new toy I received in the mail today: a NeoDen TM-240A automatic desktop pick and place machine! I’ve kept my eyes on this baby for a quite a while, and finally decided to make a purchase last week. The shipping was very fast: DHL from China, a total of 4 days from shipping to delivery. The package is quite heavy: 65kg with the box, and 45kg just the machine itself. The DHL courier and I moved it together to my workshop. Some unboxing pictures:

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So what’s a pick and place machine? Simply speaking, it’s a machine that can quickly and accurately place SMT components onto a PCB. As our orders keep increasing, we need better tools to significantly improve the manufacturing productivity. It’s true that the major manufacturing needs can be outsourced to companies like SeeedStudio, but you will always have to prepare for unexpected delays. Also, small production runs are not worth outsourcing to China. So it’s crucial to have in-house manufacturing capability to meet small production needs.

The basic tools for small-scale PCB assembly include a stencil printing machine, a pick and place machine, and a reflow oven. The pick and place machine is probably the most expensive among the three. The NeoDen TM-240A is a relatively low-cost model. It’s desktop-size, so it’s light-weight and doesn’t take a huge amount of space. It has built-in suction pump, 28 feeders, two placement heads, speed of 7000 components per hour, and a maximum PCB area of 400mm x 360mm. It costs about $5000, which is significantly cheaper than machines at similar specs. I’ve seen machines that cost at least 10K, and even at that price you have to buy feeders separately. There is a sister model to TM-240A, which is TM-220A. It’s cheaper (~$3600), but with less feeders and smaller PCB area. The downside of TM-240A is that it does not have a vision-based system, so it’s not as accurate as the more expensive machines. But considering its price and capability, I decided it’s a good investment.

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I bought the machine directly from the Chinese website Taobao, which is the equivalent eBay in China. Shipping is 3000RMB (~$490). Considering it took only 4 days from China to the US, it’s not a bad price. All together I paid about $5500, including the machine and shipping cost.

As soon as I got the machine, I couldn’t wait to open it and give it a try. The user manuals are pretty minimal, but there is an SD card that contains several tutorial videos which are very helpful. For example, the user manual does not explain how to install the component tapes, and it took some careful watching and rewinding of the tutorial video to figure it out. The package came with a sample PCB and a bunch of double-sided tape. Using these I could quickly set up a test run without applying solder paste at all. The video below shows a demonstration. It’s very exciting to see the machine in action! It’s also quite fast. I am looking forward to using this machine in real production. I am glad that this machine has sufficient number of feeders to handle OpenSprinkler in one pass (i.e. no need to change tapes in the middle). There will be quite a bit of learning involved, but I am hopeful :)

Update: Click here to see Part 2 of the video.

18 Responses to “New Toy: NeoDen TM-240A Automatic Pick and Place Machine – Part 1”

  1. [...] NeoDen TM-240A Automatic Pick and Place Machine @ Rayshobby. [...]

  2. Rolf says:

    Ray, thanks for the post and video!
    Very informative.
    What is the smallest component that it can accurately handle?
    Cheers,
    -rolf

    • ray says:

      The spec says 0402 although I’ve seen comments by other people that that’s really pushing the limit. My circuits mostly use 0805 so it should be fine. 0603 should also work well.

  3. pcb&j says:

    Please update on how well it does with the ICs.

    • ray says:

      That depends on what kind of ICs. I assume the machine is pretty accurate for SO-8 and SO-16 packaging. For SSOP, I need to do some test. Bigger ICs (like TQFP-64) may have to be placed in the front stack, and the accuracy is much lower. Will shoot another video when I do some real production.

  4. Dan says:

    Can you describe how the spools that pull the cover tape work? Is it possible for you to post a close up video showing these spools in action?

    Thanks!

  5. asif says:

    HI

    can i use this machine for small inverter kits. what are machine required to start inverter/ups manufacturing.

    Thanks

  6. Darth fader says:

    Can you post pictures or a video of the head unit without the white cover on it?

  7. dayhawk says:

    How reliable is this system from your limited exposure?
    a) referring to consistency of placement
    b) referring to interval between maintenance/repair issues ….have you had any breakdowns since June

    Looking at possibly using for production myself…. Trying to be careful of “surprises”.

    • ray says:

      a) since the machine does not have a vision system, consistency mainly depends on the placement of the board and the consistency of the board size. for example, if the board is not pushed all the way to the starting point of the pcb holder, or if the board size varies due to manufacturing issues, the components will obviously be placed off center. this happens maybe once in a while, and since this is a global shift, you can always pause the machine as soon as you see the first component being placed, and adjust the board, then resume.
      b) i haven’t had any repair issues since i had the machine (has been using it to make a couple thousand boards now). it happened a couple times that the feeder needle got stuck on the tape, but those were mostly problems with the tapes. at some point i think the needle will have to be replaced, but so far so good.

      • Mia says:

        Hi Ray,
        In the accessories kits that we prepared for you, you could find the needle with other accessories inside. If the needle needs to be placed, please feel free to use the accessories in the kits.
        We’re the manufacturer, please feel free to contact us if you have any question. Hope you enjoy the working experience with our machine. Thanks.

  8. Vibhu Tandon says:

    Dear Sir, Please contact us. I want to take this MT240A Pick and place machine.

  9. Haimi says:

    Hello everybody here,
    This is Haimi from Neoden.
    We are original manufacturer of this machine,if need any help on operation or more information about TM240A,pls feel free to contact us.
    You can send mail to me or add my skype haimi2008

  10. Joel Javier says:

    Dear Sir/Ma’am,

    I would like to request for the quotation of your Table top Pick and Place machine.

    Kindly include your best leadtime & best price.

    thanks & best regards,

    Joel Javier
    Sales/Service Engineer
    Momentum Materials & Machines Inc.

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