Projects Concern Manufacturing (PCM), on the cusp of celebrating its 30th anniversary serving the local contract electronics manufacturing market, has expanded its printing capabilities with the purchase of an ASM DEK Horizon iX screen printer.
Sean Flynn, the managing director of PCM, explains that in order to meet the changing needs of customers, there is an increasing demand for a more automated printing process. This spurred the company to venture into the market in search for a credible partner, with a high level of flexibility being a primary requirement.
“We did not really have the need for inline printing until a couple of years ago,” he explains. “We were using a group of EKRA semi-automatic printers which were offline and the nature of it was we were doing printing runs in the 50s, 100s and 1000s, so our work did not really warrant an inline printer at that stage. However, one customer needed to produce higher volumes – anything between 50 to 10 000 units a month – and asked us about our future printing plans, as well as the need for post-print inspection. You eventually get to a point where you realise that you are doing everything possible with a semi-automatic printer and it’s time for a more automated process.”
ASM DEK was chosen as the most suitable supplier because of its reputation, says Flynn: “The company has been around a long time and has a good name in the market. I believe that they will be around for the next 10 to 20 years, whereas a lot of the newer guys may not still be there, and that is a big plus for us.”
Before the company proceeded with the purchase of its new printer, ASM DEK’s local distributor Zetech facilitated an opportunity for PCM to test the printer with a demo machine. After an almost four-month trial period, Flynn felt ready to make the decision to purchase, but not before he had a helping hand to optimise the system for his purposes. “We had some of the technical guys from ASM DEK come and show us a few tricks,” he points out. “This was crucially important as this allowed our team to fully customise the printing process according to our manufacturing needs.”
The Horizon iX printer enabled PCM to meet several challenges and is helping the company prepare for the next five to 10 years in electronics manufacturing. This is thanks to a plethora of accuracy, productivity and speed advantages. Speaking on the benefits of the Horizon iX, Flynn says, “The big benefit of the Horizon is the HawkEye 1700 post-print verification tool. It is quicker and more intelligent than competing platforms in the same price range, so that was an added advantage for the printer. The overall quality was superior to anything else and the printer gave us the flexibility that we need. The printer has brought us to a more automated process; it has certainly given us the edge when we want speed, throughput and repeatability.”
Looking to the future, Flynn believes PCM has the capabilities to be truly global. As an experienced player in the South African market with a large distribution to local firms, the company unquestionably has the experience required. Flynn is adamant that providers will need to be flexible in order to stay ahead of the changing printing landscape.
As component manufacturers are making things miniscule with multiple points, printers will need to adapt their technology to be far finer. From an accuracy point of view, he envisions future challenges with screens, stencils and depositing paste on to small boards.
Flynn concludes, “We’ve gone from not owning a single automatic printer other than two MY500 jet printers, to a situation where we now have four printers with three being ASM DEK Horizon iX.”
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