Z-AXIS Invests $1 Million in PCB Assembly Equipment at its Rochester Contract Manufacturing Center


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Z-AXIS, Inc. has added more than $1 million worth of equipment for surface mount technology (SMT) printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturing at its electronics design and contract manufacturing center near Rochester, NY. The equipment, placed into service in December 2019, includes four (4) new MY300 robotic pick-and-place machines from Mycronic Inc.

Z-AXIS is the first manufacturer in the eastern USA to install Mycronic’s new MY300HX and MY300EX models, which further advance Mycronic’s signature features of high part placement speed, rapid change-over capabilities, advanced machine vision, and industry-leading control software.  

“We’ve used Mycronic equipment in our high-speed, high-mix manufacturing for many years,” said Michael Allen, President of Z-AXIS, Inc. “With this update we can place twice as many parts per hour and handle a wider variety of component shapes using automation. As a result, we’ve doubled our SMT capacity, and can produce more complex boards with greater efficiency.”

Two identical SMT production lines provide flexibility

In addition to the new Mycronic systems, the company also purchased a second automated board feeder, stencil printer, and solder reflow oven to configure two identical SMT production lines.

“Two identical production lines give us the flexibility to respond to last-minute customer demand changes and routine maintenance on either line,” Allen said. “We can easily move jobs from one line to the other, or run the same job simultaneously on both lines, with no reprogramming and very little down time.”

Each new SMT assembly line at Z-AXIS features:

  • A Mycronic MY300HX pick-and-place machine, with rated speeds of up to 45,000 parts per hour
  • A Mycronic MY300EX pick-and-place machine, with speeds of up to 10,000 parts per hour
  • A Speedline SP710 AVI automatic stencil printer
  • An automatic board feeder
  • A Pyramax 98 solder reflow oven
  • A Nordson YESTECH B3 Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) system

On a typical PCBA job, the Mycronic MY300HX will be used to rapidly place the majority of the SMT components, with dual heads handling 16 parts at a time. The Mycronic MY300EX will be used to place the remainder of the components, especially the larger and odd-shaped parts.

Mycronic workflow planning software determines which SMT assembly jobs are assigned to each line, minimizing feeder loading between jobs and optimizing the job sequence for efficiency. Mycronic line balancing software determines which of the two machines in each line will place each part, optimizing for throughput. 

With the new pick-and-place machines, Z-AXIS retains the ability to work with the smallest SMT parts (01005, or 0.016" x 0.08") and automatically test passive components before they are placed. The company gains a more advanced machine vision system, improving the ability to detect and place odd-sized parts. With more feeders, the new lines can hold up to 256 different part types each, a 30% increase over the old lines. As a result, Z-AXIS can more efficiently produce complex SMT assemblies with a wider variety of parts. 

New Product Introduction (NPI) line supports design and manufacturing engineering

Z-AXIS reconfigured its existing SMT production equipment, including two recently-updated Mycronic pick-and-place machines, to create a separate new product introduction (NPI) line.

The separate NPI line allows greater flexibility for the company’s engineering team to run small prototype jobs at any time, without impacting for production schedules on the higher-speed lines. 

The NPI line is used by Z-AXIS’ in-house design engineering department. This team provides feasibility studies, circuit design, board layout, and prototype services for customers before taking their electronic products into production. Z-AXIS’ manufacturing engineering team also use the NPI line, serving customers who have designed their own boards and need manufacturing engineering assistance to take them from prototype to production.

Answering the demand for electronics manufacturing in the USA

The investments support growing demand for Z-AXIS’ electronic product design and contract manufacturing services in the USA.

“Continuous re-investment in new equipment is one reason that we are a preferred electronics manufacturing services partner for leading medical and industrial product companies,” Allen said. “This latest SMT equipment is also just a lot of fun to use, which contributes to making Z-AXIS a great place to work.”

The latest investments are part of the company’s long-range plan to continuously expand its electronics contract manufacturing services (EMS) capabilities at its 32,000 square foot design and manufacturing center, located near Rochester and Syracuse in western New York.

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