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ALNEA / Automated soldering

Automated soldering

Increasing demand for given product, miniaturization, decrease of manufacturing costs, increase of product quality, minimization of waste and elimination of human error are the main causes,k for which it becomes necessary to automate production processes, including soldering.

What do we understand as automated soldering?

Generally speaking, automation of soldering is about replacing an operator by a machine, which executes the soldering process. One of the soldering machine types is the 6 – axis industrial robot, integrated with a soldering packet – in that case we’re speaking about robotized soldering. The packet usually consists of soldering controller, solder wire feeder, soldering head and solder tip cleaner. Alnea meets the needs of the market and offers it’s own patented soldering packet Zeus.

Advantages of robotized soldering

Utilizing a robotized soldering process gives following possibilities and benefits:

1. Excellent repeatability and quality of solders – thanks to controlling soldering parameters (listed below) by a microprocessor, every soldered connection has the same shape, volume of solder etc. Robot never makes faulty connections i.e. cold solder or connects two soldering areas placed close to each other. Even such difficult applications as soldering flexible PCBs are executed almost flawlessly. Robot executing soldering program won’t miss any pad. Of course well trained operator with a lot of experience is able to provide high quality of soldered connections, but training of personnel in the field of soldering take a lot of time and money. Additionally, precise soldering is really tiring for a human so quality of his work drops with number of hours works within a shift.

2. Increase of production effectiveness – motion of a robot is faster and more optimal than of a human. Machine is capable to solder continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, doesn’t need a break, doesn’t take a sick leave, doesn’t have to rest. All that ensures much higher efficiency than in case of operators’ work.

3. Possibility of miniaturization of soldered components – with use of the right soldering tip, a robot is able to solder miniature components. Thanks to high precision, soldering areas can be located close to each other. These features allow miniaturization of whole product.

4. Possibility of controlling soldering parameters – controller Zeus adjusts all parameters of soldering (listed below), thanks to that the process is perfectly adapted to given application. If a need arises , there is a possibility to modify online the parameters on the level of HMI of the robotized station. Thanks to dedicated technological packet Zeus for KUKA robots all soldering parameters can be changed and set directly through robot’s controller – in programming phase as well as in production phase. Precise adaptation of the parameters is especially important during lead – free soldering and in applications, in which soldered elements are close to each other and/or of small size.

5. Possibility of soldering in protective atmosphere i.e. nitrogen – in the process of lead – free soldering, it’s advised to use protective atmosphere of a neutral gas. Zeus controller has a built – in valve for steering the flow of nitrogen. Benefits of utilizing a protective atmosphere are: lower solder oxidation, and extended lifespan of soldering tip.

6. Constant efficiency – soldering robot executes operations with constant “takt time” so it’s easy to calculate efficiency and more importantly keep it at on a constant level.

7. Considerable decrease of the number of defective products – excellent quality described in point 1. brings along reduction of production waste. Elimination of manual transport and handling of delicate components ( i.e. PCB ) in robotized soldering process additionally reduces risk of creation of defects.

What decides on that solders made by a robot are of excellent quality?

In robotized soldering, soldering tip, solder wire and all the soldering parameters are adapted to given application.
Thanks to utilization of a industrial robot approach to a soldering point is realized with precision of hundredths of a millimeter.
Parameters of soldering process are repeatable and adjusted by the controller (primarily temperature, heating time and amount of solder wire).
Thanks to utilization of a cleaner connected to Zeus controller it’s possible to automatically and precisely clean soldering tip. The tip is cleaned by metal brushes and stream of compressed air.
Ability to solder in protective atmosphere i.e. nitrogen ensures decrease of solder oxidation and extension of soldering tip’s lifespan.
Program monitors work time and number of work cycles of soldering tip, thanks to which the tip is replaced before it’s spent.
Thanks to using an industrial robot, we are capable of reaching very high speed of approach to soldering point – in case of KUKA robots even 2 m/s.
It helps to keep correct shape of soldered connection.

In which industries soldering robot with Zeus packet can be utilized?

Robotized soldering packet Zeus is capable of soldering among others electronic components used in through – hole technology assembly, but not only. It can be use automate soldering in:
• automotive industry
• defense sector
• aviation industry
• electronics industry
• precision industry
• electrotechnical industry
• medical sector
• telecommunication industry and more.

What parameters of soldering process are controlled by a soldering controller?

Zeus soldering controller adjusts following parameters of soldering process:
• heating power
• temperature – there is a possibility to differentiate the temperature in different stages of soldering the same point (or area), what is not possible during manual soldering
• heating time of soldered area
• amount of fed solder
• speed of solder feeding
• amount of retracted soldered
• speed of solder retraction

If you are interested in robotized soldering with use of Zeus packet, contact us and find out, what solutions of soldering process we can offer for your company.

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