Ask the Experts
August 16, 2017 - Updated
July 4, 2007 - Originally Posted

Depaneling equipment

Can you recommend or suggest companies which sell depaneling equipment? We need to be depanel boards with V Grooves and Perforated holes?


Expert Panel Responses

PROMATION offers both batch process and in-line process depaneling systems. See PROMATION Dual Shutter Router (Depanel) on our website. I am not sure what else you need. Please advise.

Gary Goldberg
President and CEO
Mr Goldberg has practical experience in production line layout, process flow and cycle rate analysis. He knows how to avoid bottle necks and most related PCB or pallet handling questions.

The primary technologies used for depaneling are routing, sawing, shearing, and punching. Routing and punching are suitable for panels designed with tabs (pre-routed patterns define the pcb size and small tabs keep the pcbs in the panel). Punches give the best cycle time but there are sometimes issues with stress related defects resulting from the stress of the punching process. De-lamination of the pcb layers can also be an issue in punching. Tooling costs, including the recurring cost of tool sharpening, are high compared to routers. Punches are typically standalone machines, requiring an operator to load and unload the material. Routers are available in either stand-alone or in-line versions. Routers are not as fast a punching but are more flexible and produce very little stress on the panel. Most routers required product specific tooling but the cost is typically less than a die set for a punch. Suppliers for routers are Cencorp, Tyco, Precision PCB, IPTE, and ASYS. Tyco also sells punches. Sawing and shearing are suitable for v-grove panels. Shearing is typically done on a low cost manual machine commonly called a "pizza cutter" due to its design which includes a large shearing wheel. Sawing is a more automated process where a saw head or the product is moved with a robotic gantry. The saw typically requires a 0.5 mm minimum spacing between pcbs due to the kerf of the blade. Sawing can be done on a stand-alone machine with operator load and unload or it can be done in-line with a highly automated solution. Suppliers for shears include CAB and Manncorp. Saws are sold by Cencorp, ASYS, and IPTE.

Kent Dixon
VP Sales - Americas
Mr. Dixon heads sales in North and South America for Cencorp. Kent holds a BS in mechanical engineering and has been with Cencorp for 8 years. Automated solutions for depaneling, test handling and odd-form placement are Kent's area of expertise.

ASYS can offer a wide product range for inline (6 different systems) and offline (3 different) depaneling systems. Nowadays most systems come with a router bit for tabs and vary in their flexibility due to adjustable or fixed grippers or fixtures. The combination of different depaneling technologies (v-score, perforated holes, tabs) on the same board is a specific challenge. ASYS can also offer you inline and offline solutions that combine a saw for the v-scored areas and a shaft router for the tabs or perforated holes. While the use of the saw allows for faster cutting speeds, it is not quite as flexible as the router bit which allows you to route any shape and contour. On the other hand, the saw typically develops less dust, as less material is cut and it is easier to trap the dust in the vacuum. No matter which system you choose, make sure you get an ultra quiet, external vacuum system (internal systems will impact your machine accuracy) and ionization nozzles to ensure static discharge. Also look at the programming options: integrated teach camera and offline CAD import are available from any leading manufacturer. CAD import will allow you to generate the program on any PC and use it on multiple different routers. The teach camera however will always tie up your production machine for the time required to program new products and will only allow you to run the program on that specific machine, as all gantry offsets are build into the program. Please visit our website for further information.

Markus Wilkens
Mr. Wilkens has been working in the SMD industry for over 10 years. He came to the USA in 1999 to start up the operations for ASYS, a global company with a product portfolio including Handling Systems, Marking Systems, Depaneling Systems, Screen Printers and end of line Automation.

For V score panels the number of suppliers is considerable and each will offer a system based on two opposed rotating discs. Depending on the volume you have to deal with these machines can be manual in operation or semi-automated. They are often referred to as Pizza Cutters. Companies that offer such systems Incl: Fancourt and CAB. The PCB you refer to as having perforated holes sounds as if it has pre-routes. Short areas of Glass attached to an outer frame with most of the material already cut away. This panel is more suited to an automated depanelling machine or router. It is an automated X-Y-Z gantry with a high speed spindle that follows a programmed path and cuts the remaining material away leaving behind the scrap frame and the individual PCBs. These machines come in a variety of configurations depending upon your productivity needs. Companies that offer such machinery incl: A-Tek llc, ASYS, IPTE.

Allen W. Duck
ATEK llc
Allen Duck is a 20-year Electronics Industry veteran with Global experience in multiple fields of technology and management. He started A-Tek in 2006 to provide a sales and service channel for international equipment companies wishing to offer value based solutions to USA companies.
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