Automation for Electronics -- a 1956 Status Report

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  • AUTUMATION FOR ELECTRONICS -- A 1956 STATUS REPORTAlfred R. Gray

    The Martin CompanyBaltimore, Maryland

    Summary 1. Mechanized single component-part insertionsystems, using "in-line" individual heads, and

    At the 1955 IRE National Convention, the designed for high-volume assembly. This typeauthor delivered a paper entitled "Guided Missile is frequently referred to as the "DetroitReliability and Electronic Production Techniques". method".A general description was given of several contem-porary concepts of automation-for-electronics. 2. Mechanized component-part insertion sys-The present paper is a sequel to the previous re- tems, using.one or a relatively few multipleport. An attempt is made to view objectively the heads, and designed for high-volume assembly.various improved concepts and their advancing This we willterm the "Simultaneous method".techniques, and to evaluate them in terms of pre-sent trends for their use. Three needed basic 3. Automatized component-part processing sys-improvements for automatic electronic assembly tems, designed for high-volume fabrication ofmachines are outlined, and a prediction is made stacked-wafer modules -- sometimes abbreviatedthat the early incorporation of these improvements as the "Process method".will rapidly advance the acceptance and applicationof automation-for-electronics. 4. Automation by progra-mmed insertion systems,

    using one or a relatively few heads, and de-Introduction signed for low-volume assembly. This type is

    often known as the "Batch method".The word "automation" undoubtedly meets with

    a slight element of resistance from some quarters 5. Semi-automatic single coomponent-part in---resistance born of the tradition that the proper sertion machines, desianed for low-volumeword-f65rm should be "automization". But "automation" assembly. This is best described as the "In-has now become of age, as evidenced by its appear- dividual method".ance in the latest edition of Webster's New Col-legiate Dictionary. It is defined as: "The Mechanized Single Component-Part Insertiontechnique of making a process or system automatic" Tyiem7 Using "In-Line"_Individual_Heads,or, "Automatically controlled operation of an Fo HighVlume Assembyapparatus, process, or system, especially by elec-tronic devices". A machine typical of this basic type of auto-

    mation, and emphasizing radio and TV production,Now that we have "automation" defined and ac- is shown in Figure 1. In 1954, the United Shoe

    cepted, let us look at its two general forms as ap- Machinery Corporation demonstrated an experimentalplied to our industry, "Electronics for Automation" version of this "Automatic Electronic Assemblyand "Automation for Electronics." "Electronics foal SysteTn" to the electronics industry. EighteenAutomation" is the responsibility of our sister months ago,four experimental in-line machines andgroup the PGIE; while "Autormation-for-d4lectronics" 15 bench-mounted machines were on trial throughoutis within the scope of our own group the POPT. the industry. Since then, 12 complete conveyorThis brings us back to the original subject. systems have been installed at RCA, Indianapolis;

    Delco Riadio, Kokomo, Indiana; Philco, Philadelphia;In the 1955 IRE National Convention paper Philco, Sandusky, Ohio; Stromberg Carlson, Rochester;

    entitled, "Guided Missile Reliability and Electrcnic Emerson, Jersey City; and Burroughs, Detroit. TheseProduction Techniques" we admitted that many prob- seven plants represent all segments of the elec-l.ems remained to be overcome before any of the tronics industry. One of these companies has fourcurrent automation schemes could be used to build compl3te systems, of 30 to 40 heads each, inelectronic equipment for high-performance aircraft. operation.It was predicted, however, that within two years afully automatic production line would be in opera- United Shoe's entire experience with component-tion, able to meet the specification requirements part preparation, points to lead-taping as the mostof even the intercontinental guided missile. With reliable method. Their records indicate an indi-only six months remaining before the target date, vidual head insertion reliability of over 99.8%.let us examine how much; and yet, how little pro- This means a system insertion reliability of overgress has been made. After first presenting the 9W, for a 30-head system or over 92% for a 40-headfavorable side, an attempt will be made to show system. Their experience also shows that bodyhow little has actually been accomplished when the taping increases the failure rate two or three ts.potentialities of automation are considered from anindustrial preparedness point of view. Production experience, likewise, shows that

    under favorable conditions, 75% of the theoreticalLet us look at the progress side of the ledger. production-per-hour can be realized, or 9,000 sub-There are five basic types of automation for elec- assemblies in an 8-hour day. Production modeltronic assembly: headls are presently available for insertion of

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  • Fig. 1 - United Shoe's automatic electroric assembly system.

    Fig. 2 - United Shoe's indi- Fig. 3 - United Shoe's discvidual "Dynasert" capacitor insert-machine. ing machine.

    jumpers, eyelet-type connectors, and component pwrts machine operates at the same 20-per-minute speedfrom small diodes to large tubular capacitors. as the insertion system. It applies flux, drys,Heads are in the advance development stage for the preheats, solder dips, and removes flux. Current-insertion of disc capacitors, tube sockets, and ly a market analysis is being conducted to deter-printed circuit elements. mine the interest of the industry.

    Electronic Component Belting Machine, Model B, Interest in the Automation "break-even" pointreplaces the earlier 1/2 watt resistor machine. is naturally high throughout the electronics in-This newest auxiliary machine will belt a wide dustry, and experience may confirm that it is asvariety of component parts. It straightens leads, low as 50 assemblies when the operator-trainingtapes leads or bodies, and makes a preliminary period is taken into consideration.lead-cut.

    United Shoe's present "Pallet Recirculator"The $64,ooo question is, "Who will eventually system includes a first-station board loader, a

    belt component parts, the supplier or the user?" closed-loop escalator and conveyor that returnsThe answer is probably, "Both", for some time to the pallets to the first station, and a last-sta-come, and it is likely that some seldom-used parts tion board remover. Their engineers are now morewill always be prepared by the user. A year from sold on the use of pallets than ever.now, it is expected that a substantial number ofvendors will be supplying belted component parts. A bench-mounted segment of the system is also

    being marketed, which has the advantage of laterAn Automatic Soldering Machine has likewise incorporation into a conveyor system. It is trade-

    been developed by United Shoe, and a pilot model marked "Dynasert" and shown in Fig. 2. A dischas been delivered to Stromberg Carlson. This capacitor version is shown in Fig. 3.

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  • The "Autofab" machine shown in Fig. 4 is also has built a prototype of this design, coupled to atypical of the in-line or "Detroit method" of mech- transfer arrangement operating at right angles toanized production, but emphasizes assembly to mili- the "Autofab" output feeder conveyor, and ba8 de-tary specifications. Eighteen months ago "Autofab" livered it to I.B.M. "Autosol" (as it is now call-had just been demonstrated to the industry and the ed) is designed to keep step with the high-quantitypress (February, 1955). This development evolved capabilities of "Autofab". It provides for flux-from a merger of the nearly parallel, but indepen- ing, preheating and soldering. A waterfall systemdent, designs of General Mills and Taag Design. flows a flux-solvent over the board, and fungus

    protection is provided before drying. Berg Manu-These two designs were combined to special I.B.M. facturing and Engineering has added "Autolug" toorder, and the development was completed by the I.B.M's already large family of mechanized assemb-Mechanical Division of General Mills under the ly machines.direction of Dr. Cledo Brunetti. The demonstrationmodel has been in use for over a year at Kingston, Second, the high-production version of "Auto-New York, on the production of over 800 circuits fab", "Autosol", and A.M.P's "Auto-prep" are inof Continental Defense Computers for the U.S. Air limited production as predicted. This is also trueForce. It has 24 component-part insertion heads of General Mills' own two models of automatic com-and delivers one sub-assembly every 3 seconds or ponent preparation machines, which straighten and9,600 per 8-hour day. Three detail views, a de- cut to length component-part leads as a separatetailed description, and cost estimates were given function.in our previous paper.

    Third, a greater demand seems to exist for theIn the past 18 months three things have hap- Short-run "Autofab" (see Figure 5). This model is

    peneds now in production. The prototype is presently de-signed to use Allen-Bradley lead-taped reels, al-

    First, Taag Design completed a dip-soldering though it can be adapted to I.R.C.'s specialmachine originally called "Autodip". General Mills ALitomation Pacs. Early production will go to

    Fig. 4 - General Mills' "Autofab" boardfeeder.

    Fig. 5 - "Autofab" short-rn assemblymachine.

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  • Beckman Instruments, Collins-Texas, Magnavox and At Chicago, the finished printed-wiringMcDonald Aircraft. This Short-run design is fully boards are stacked 14 to 18 inches high into theautomatic except for the feed Oa printed-wiring in-line air-cylinder-operated automatic assemblyboards. Component parts are fed from a chute, machine. No pallets are required. For the 10-leads are cut to length, inserted and crimped. The inch portable TV line, two 35-station machines arebench machine sells for $2,395. Extra accessories used in tandem, separated by a manual inspectionfor different body sizes or hole center distances, station. For the 10-inch portable TV, double boardsincluding chute cut-off, insertion and crimping are processed for assembly convenience, and aretool, sell for i495 complete. Tool changes are cut apart at the end of the line. For the 17-inchmade by a cam-lock device and change-over can be TV, one large board has been in production for overmade in 30 seconds. a year. The 21-inch model uses three boards.

    The Admiral automation machine (not shown), is The main in-line assembly machine is current-likewise typical of the in-line or "Detroit method" ly able to insert jumpers, resistors-mouldedof mechanized production. Admiral is one of the cylindrical capacitors, tube sockets, and somemost progressive of the radio-TV manufacturers, who ceramic disc capacitors. However, the ceramicare developing automation equipment primarily for capacitors have presented a problem due to surplustheir own use. Eighteen months ago Admiral was "Durez" on the leads, and these are presently beingbuilding an 8-tube section of their latest 21-inch added by auxiliary semi-automatic machines whichtelevision set, using their own 15-station mechan- crimp after hand insertion. Resistors are fedized line. from taped reels, tubular capacitors from chutes,

    and other parts by various methods. Malco contactPresently they have two automatized setups, inserting machines complete the set-up.

    one at Harvard, Ill. for the processing of printed-wiring boards, and the other at Chicago for auto- Admiral has not yet gone into automaticmatic assembly. At Harvard, copper-clad laminate soldering. They feel there is little to be gained(pre-punched by the supplier) is automatically cut here by automation, as a machine usually requiresto size, silk screened with etching resist, dried, an attendant, and at Chicago one girl is able toand delivered to a manual inspection station. keep pace with the automatic equipment. This al-Next, the boards are hand fed to the automatic most spectacular performance may be attributed toetcher, where they are acid etched, rinsed, put the silicone-coated selective area technique.through a cleaning process to de-carbonize and Furthermore, only two soldering-touchup people arebrighten the copper surface, again rinsed, dried now required as contrasted with six or eight beforeby wringer rolls and hot air jets, and again de- selective soldering was developed. When completelylivered to an inspection station. Here, they are assembled, the boards are conveyor-fed to severalstacked into the third automatized machine where oscilloscope operators for alignment and inspection.they are silk screened with a silicone compound to In addition to their own installation, it will beprovide selSetive soldering, oven-baked for 10 min- remembered that Admiral delivered a 24-stationutes at 200 to a hard "glass" finish, silk screen- machine to RCA Indianapolis for TV assembly. Addi-ed on the back with tube and component-part symbol tional heads are being built for RCA's "red" mould-designation, air dried and delivered to the final ed mica capacitors.inspection station for shipment to the Chicagoassembly plant. The Multra Automatic Assembly Machine is an-

    other of the in-line "Detroit method" family,except that it is built in a circle. This machinewas made for P. R. Mallory, Tarrytown, N. Y. toassemble 15,000 to 20,000 mercury batteries a day.It includes vibratory feeders and feedback systems.The machine can be modified to do 16 operations ofnumerous types, including feeding, sorting, sizing,forming, orienting and inspecting.

    Ilechanized Component-part Insertionl_5ems Using One or a Relatively

    i | ||lil|l!!!!!l _ ~~~~~-ew71Hads, for INgE 1ViEum?"Simultaneous"

    AssemblyA newcomer to the commercial market, yet no

    stranger to automation, Equip-a-matic EngineeringCorp., Riverside, Illinois has announced a newconcept in automation-for-electronics -- one ofsimultaneous insertion. Mr. Jack J. Zimmerman,President, formerly Director of Industrial ResearchEngineering of Motorola ,and his staff have devel-oped a machine that will insert 45 to 100 resistorsin one stroke. The machine will use a new type of

    Fig. 6 - "Autofab" semi-automatic area soldering molded circuit that requires no etching or drill-machine. ing and which is superior to XXX P- phenolic. The

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  • boards will be marketed by Die-form Circuits, In- provides for automatic dip soldering as indexingcorporated, and will cost 2/3 that of etched takes place. One girl produces 480 chassis, andwiring. five girls 1500, in an 8-hour day. The output is

    manually loaded onto a conveyor which travels toThe Equip-a-matic insertion machine will be the tube and alignment stations. Of considerable

    made of aluminum castings and with 45 insertion importance is the extremely low module failure-tools will sell for approximately $5o,ooo. Boards rate. (see Figure 8)will be injected and ejected at the rate of 360per hour. The turrets will hold a 4-h...

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