Young Precision Network visit to Assembléon- Visitors report

26 November 2014

Assembléon produces machines for placing components (mostly surface mount devices like chips and resistors) on printed circuit boards. Since our last visit in 2010, Assembléon went through some difficult times, but things are improving rapidly and it really showed during our recent visit. Jeroen de Groot, CEO of Assembléon, welcomed us and showed some slides about the market, strategy and forecast.

The main driver is a change of strategy from the cost-driven market of bulk production to the more specs driven market of advanced packaging. This also meant that Assembléon stopped its sales activities for several machines that were targeted towards this bulk-production market. As a result, turnover reduced from 125Meuro to 75Meuro. However, profits went up as Assembléon now has a strong focus on its core competences.

Several new developments were also presented. First, was a program to improve machine accuracy to 10 micrometers to allow on-machine flip-chip bonding. Assembléon believes this could be a great opportunity for its machines in the future. To make this step, several on-machine measurements are performed. These are used in a model of the machine to obtain the contributions of each error source to the total placement accuracy (in a Monte-Carlo simulation). This gives a structured approach to improving machine performance. Some improvements were discussed, including a compensation for in-machine acceleration forces.
In a second presentation the design of a new z-phi gripper was discussed. In the final design, the linear actuators are integrated into the air bearings to create a very compact and lightweight design. By using different diameters in the air bearing, a gravity compensation mechanism is elegantly included in the design.
Finally, the design of a new low-force nozzle was presented. This is a nice balancing act between the minimum desired placement force (determining the preload force on the nozzle) and the nozzle stability when holding relatively large components under high acceleration forces.
After the presentations, there was a tour through the factory and testing laboratory with a demonstration of a real-speed assembly using the iFlex.

Thanks to Sjef van Gastel, Jeroen de Groot, Gerry Lutters, Rene Bouman and Roy Brewel for organizing the visit.