MPE safeguards the production of high quality and reliable PCBAs with new depaneling machine

Jun 20, 2024Company News

Our latest investment, the Seetrax CirCut P35 depaneling machine, highlights MPE’s commitment to producing superior quality, dependable PCB assemblies for our diverse customers.

A depaneling machine is used to separate and ‘break out’ individual circuits from a larger panel (see image below). During PCB production, multiple boards are often fabricated together in a single panel to streamline the manufacturing process and improve efficiency. Depaneling machines cut or break the connections, also known as ‘webs’, between these individual boards.

MPE depanaling circuit boards

Before the arrival of the new machine, MPE assembly experts would assemble the PCB while still in the panel, and then remove the circuits from the panel using a FKN SYSTEK Nibbler, a DPF-200 Router or cut them out by hand using a plier-like tool. Equipped with the CirCut P35, our experts can order the bare circuit boards butted together in the panel, with a ‘V’ shape score line around the edge of the board. Following assembly, they can use the new depaneling machine to cut accurately along this score line. This has completely removed the need for hand-cutting and filing, substantially reducing the average time taken to produce each assembly.

Nicola Evans, Managing Director of MPE Electronics, explains, “We’re excited to incorporate the CirCut P35 into our growing arsenal of state-of-the-art machinery. This new machine is time-saving, reduces the risk of repetitive strain injury from cutting and filing for all our assembly experts, as well as decreasing the potential damage to the PCB or components.”

No flexing or distortion

Depaneling assembled circuit boards is generally recognised as one of the riskiest steps in the manufacturing process of PCB assemblies. The stress exerted on the circuit during this step can cause component detachment, resulting in circuit failure. Additionally, the smoothness of the board edge is crucial for compatibility within modern assemblies. Rough or burred edges produced during breakout require additional finishing, otherwise the board may be rejected entirely. Modern PCB designs increasingly place components along the edges of the board, making it essential to avoid damage during depaneling.

The CirCut P35 depaneling machine uses hardened and ground separator blades with score-location guides, ensuring a premium quality finish. Most importantly, this machine eliminates flex or distortion during the process, significantly reducing the risk of board or component failure, or damage after depaneling.

This new machinery furthers MPE’s commitment to producing highly reliable PCBAs for all our customers’ applications. These range from critical life-saving products used in the medical industry to electronic devices designed to withstand harsh environments, such as those used in aerospace and industrial applications.

Special features reduce production time

This latest addition to our state-of-the-art line-up of plant and machinery offers a range of distinctive features designed to enhance our ability to produce high-quality PCBAs with shorter production times:

  • Single-step process: The CirCut’s blades accurately trace score lines to flawlessly cut the webbing, ensuring clean smooth edges for the circuit boards in just one quick step.
  • Adaptability in scoring depth and web thickness: The CirCut depaneller’s blades can separate PCB panels from 0.5 to 3mm thick, but can compensate for inconsistent web thickness, as well as intermittent breaks in the score lines.
  • Component clearance: With its 70mm tall component clearance and narrow 3mm blade channel, the CirCut P35 means we no longer have to attach larger components after depaneling, thereby reducing production times.
  • Hardened and ground blades: The new machine’s blades are made from materials that have undergone hardening processes to increase their durability and wear resistance. The “ground” aspect refers to the precise grinding of the blade’s edges to achieve a sharp, accurate, and smooth cutting surface. The hardened and ground edges ensure clean cuts without damaging the delicate components on the boards.

Minimising manual labour reduces overall costs

Our investment in the CirCut P35 depaneler underscores MPE’s commitment to investing in innovative processes and technologies aimed at minimising overall costs.

Nicola states “By minimising manual labour wherever possible and incorporating the latest technologies into our processes, we’re not only generating substantial cost savings for MPE but also for our customers.

“However, this does not mean any jobs are at risk. Instead, these improvements to workflow efficiency are strategically designed to allow our staff to dedicate more time to applying their specialised skills.”

While the score guides on the CirCut P35 machine excel at processing PCBs with straight lines, MPE’s expert team will continue to manually break out round PCBs or those with cutouts along the edge. This is owing to the fact that the score guides are optimised for straight lines and cannot provide the same precision for irregular shapes.

The adoption of the CirCut35 will reduce the overall risk of scrapped PCBs due to breakout damage, enabling MPE to reduce downtime and the need for replacements, thereby cutting lead times and production costs significantly.

MPE Electronics:

MPE Electronics is an established and experienced contract electronics manufacturer specialising in PCB assemblies and full box build assembly for a wide range of commercial and industrial businesses.

To find out how MPE Electronics’ PCB manufacturing and assembly services can benefit your business, contact our expert and friendly team on +44 (0)1825 764822 or enquiries@mpe-electronics.co.uk.

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