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Automated quality control for printed circuit boards


The customers of Four Stars Engineering Systems GmbH demand cost-effective solutions to automate testing systems for printed circuit boards. With the help of a low-cost articulated arm, Bernhard Driller and Seth Sheades are able to offer precisely that to their customers: RoboStar - a machine for the automated electrical testing of printed circuit boards, which rejects defective printed circuit boards.  

Profile

  • What was required?: an automation solution to place printed circuit boards in a testing unit
  • Requirements: the solution had to be very cost-effective and suitable for the format change of the printed circuit boards
  • Model: robolink D
  • Success for the customer: cost-effective automation, elimination of errors by operators and high continuity in the entire process

Interview on the application with Bernhard Driller

Bernhard Driller is CEO of Four Stars Engineering Systems GmbH, which specialises in developing solutions for producing printed circuit boards. With RoboStar, his company offers a Low Cost Robotics solution, which enables a cost-effective and fully automatic quality control of printed circuit boards. In the interview he talks about his reasons for using Low Cost Robotics, and the advantages of automation.

Which process have you automated with RoboStar? We have automated the loading and unloading of electric test systems for printed circuit boards with RoboStar. That means that our robot transports printed circuit boards into a testing system for an electric test and out again after the test. In addition, it sorts the tested boards according to their test results (good vs. bad) and attaches a test printout.
 
Why did you decide to automate this process with RoboStar? We have automated the loading and unloading of electric test systems for printed circuit boards with RoboStar. That means that our robot transports printed circuit boards into a testing system for an electric test and out again after the test. In addition, it sorts the tested boards according to their test results (good vs. bad) and attaches a test printout.

Bernard Driller - Four Stars Engineering Systems GmbH

Why did you decide to automate this process with RoboStar? The electric testing devices are mostly operated in Asia and loaded by hand there. The automation primarily helps eliminate errors of the operators and ensures the continuity of the entire process. Saving personnel costs is merely a secondary goal.
 
Why did you opt for robolink? Our Chinese customers go by the costs of the testing system with regard to the amount of investment for an automation. Nobody there is prepared to pay a similar price for an automation as for the testing system itself. The robolink components have made a cost-effective solution possible.

RoboStar testing unit for printed circuit boards with robolink robot arm

Did you encounter any problems during the implementation with robolink? If so, which ones? We are a company that primarily deals with electric tests of printed circuit boards. Robotics were new to us and therefore the project contained many new tasks with a number of problems that had to be solved. The robolink components basically caused the fewest problems.
 
What did you particularly like during the implementation with robolink? Due to our own expertise, we are capable of providing the entire motion control of a system consisting of multiple axes and extending this application to a robot application. Together with our drives, the mechanical interfaces of the robolink joints enabled a simple and fast integration.
 
Did you combine the robot arm with components of your own? If so, why? It was important to us that our automation could handle printed circuit boards with very different formats without an operator having to make any mechanical adjustments during the format change. That led to the general decision that only one robot solution came into question. Furthermore, a universal format-independent suction gripper was developed that is produced via 3D laser sintering and can simply be connected to the robot.
 
In which aspects do you benefit from automation today? With automation, we have an innovative project that will let our company grow in a new area in the years to come. By using automation in the electric printed circuit board test, our customers benefit from higher efficiency and, in particular, from higher security as errors caused by people are eliminated.


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