Stepping Up to Laser Processing for Flex, Part 2: Calculating and Optimizing Production


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A Process of Continual Improvement

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the advantages of adding flex laser processing to gain a competitive advantage. In Part 2 we will build on that discussion, looking at the ways you can optimize your flexible circuit laser processing to get the efficiencies that drive lower cost of ownership. When considering the cost associated with adding FPC processing, where do you look, what should you expect, and how can you control or minimize those costs?

Controlling Fixed costs

Aside from the obvious system purchase price and its associated depreciation expense, there are a variety of other—and less significant—fixed costs to consider. These can include system installation and personnel training costs, costs to qualify the system prior to running production, floor space allocation overhead allocation costs, as well as the costs related to upgrading facilities to meet the system’s site requirements. We will discuss site preparation in Part 3.

Typical areas to watch for in laser system site requirements include electrical, vacuum, compressed air, environmental air, as well as temperature and humidity. Neglecting any of these can result in poor product yield, scrap, or even damage to and downtime on your valuable UV laser system. Poor electrical power quality and sporadic brownouts and blackouts often can result in unexpected system errors, yield issues, and scrap.

Extending System Longevity

Typical high-power UV lasers used for flex processing have lifespans ranging from 1–2 years, although those lifespans may be drawn out if the laser is not in 24/7 use or the laser powers used for processing are much lower than the system’s work surface laser power specification.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.

 

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