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Electronics Production | November 09, 2004

Re-born CEM achieves instant success with SMT line

Canadian contract electronics manufacturer MARA Technologies has made such an impact on its specialist market in complex PCBs that it installed its second Assembléon SMT production line just two months after the first.
MARA’s instant success can be accounted for by the fact that its president, Jack Vincken, and VP of operations, Frank Lam, are both very well known in the North American contract assembly business. Starting up again as the electronics industry returned to a healthier state following the downturn, they moved into refurbished premises and purchased a brand new SMT line from Assembléon.

Production started in February 2004 with a high-mix/medium-volume SMT line including an Assembléon Topaz XiII multifunctional placer and Emerald XiII fine-pitch placer with Tray Sequencer. Immediate intense interest from customers prompted MARA to install a second line in April. The new line includes Assembleon’s new A-series placement platform.

“The line we installed in April is the first in Canada based on Assembléon’s new high-speed placement technology”, Jack Vincken confirms. “Using multiple heads simultaneously placing components on a continuous flow of boards, just one machine tripled our existing placement capacity.”

MARA has installed an AX-5 chip/IC placer from the A-series range, which has been designed to provide a platform on which any application will run, at any volume, on the same, small footprint.
Assembléon, formerly Philips EMT, has based its A-series platform on new-generation parallel placement technology, addressing SMT manufacturers’ needs for volume, technology and application flexibility. A-series also delivers the most attractive investment pattern and lowest cost per placement in its marketplace.

Starting at a minimum 30k cph configuration, the AX-5’s capacity can be increased in low-cost 5k cph increments to 100k cph. Robots are quickly and easily exchanged, with no need for calibration, to meet the placement requirements of any component, from 0101 through flip-chips to large, heavy oddforms, with no loss of throughput. High uptime is assured by fast ramp-ups and changeovers, high MTBF and low MTTR. MARA has aligned the AX-5, which can place components up to 17.5mm square, with an Emerald XiII and another Tray Sequencer. With enhanced capability to deal with ICs, the AX-5 reduces the load on the Emerald for higher
throughput, maximised by across-the-line optimisation. Quality is assured by a range of features, including automatic pick correction, zero-touch component pick, continuous component check, board warpage correction, and artwork alignment for each robot.

By June, MARA employed over 30 people and had grown to a mid-size assembly house. MARA offers a full BGA service with a high-voltage X-ray machine, and a rework station for fine-pitch and BGA components which is almost fully automated. To help achieve zero-defect process capability, the company has acquired a fully automatic optical inspection system.

MARA is currently mostly engaged in consigned contract work, but is looking also to expand its complete turnkey service. The purchasing department is being enhanced to accommodate this aspect of electronics manufacturing services. “We’re looking forward with confidence to growing our business by providing the optimum service to our customer base through superb quality and reliable delivery”, Jack Vincken concludes.

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