New Electronics Manufacturing and Test Facility
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (the MTC) has opened an electronics manufacturing facility that is unique in Europe – “a non production, production line”. The £2 million, dedicated electronics line, that provides end to end processing, will be used as a valuable test bed for new processes by the UK manufacturing industry.
“There is a huge cost associated with setting up an electronics production line and optimising it”, said Patrick Webb, Technology Manager, electronics manufacturing at the MTC. “Our line, which features all the latest equipment and technologies for surface mount and conventional (through hole) assembly, will allow companies to truly assess the knock on effects of process innovations. This facility will serve as a beacon of best practice for the electronics sector, as the equipment will be continually updated”.
The electronics line is the first element of the MTC to be open for business. The MTC concentrates on assembly, fabrication and joining technologies, and forms a bridge between concepts emanating from academia and production scale manufacturing.
“With input from founding member Aero Engine Controls we are focussing on the manufacture of high value, low volume circuit boards”, explained Clive Hickman CEO of the MTC. “The manufacture of this type of circuit board is strategically important to the UK economy, due to its use in the defence, aerospace and automotive industries. Getting large volume manufacture right can be achieved by tackling the hidden variables causing process variations over time on a single product. The same is not true of low volume manufacture. At the MTC we can achieve high quality and yield, because our in-line monitoring allows us to capture the factors causing variation across multiple products. As we have the complete line, we can trace all the interactions and knock on effects. The user is then saved the great commercial cost of taking operational facilities offline to introduce a process innovation”.
The MTC Electronics Manufacturing Facility is sited within a room operated at positive pressure, offering a cleaner than ambient operating environment combined with best practice anti-static control measures. The facility boasts cutting edge machinery and aims to be predictive of technology, enabling its users to try equipment out before investing in it themselves.
Selective processes feature prominently, such as the Mydata MY500 Solder Paste Jetting Machine, capable of stencil-less solder paste deposition driven directly from a CAD file. The MY500 even offers the potential to profile deposits. The Seho Powerselective machine represents the state-of-the-art in selective wave soldering to allow mixing of surface mount and conventional or through-hole components, without exposing the surface mount components to an extra thermal excursion. Amongst the inline monitoring equipment is the TRI TR7550 3D Automated Optical PCB Inspection machine, while fault detection is served by the DAGE XD7500 high resolution X-ray inspection machine. Capable of sub-micron resolution and oblique angle viewing, the XD7500 can help users to identify weaknesses in both their products and their processes.
The MTC supports manufacturing businesses in their pursuit of world-class performance and was set up in response to the UK Government's Manufacturing Strategy. The MTC is the result of a £40.55 million publicly funded investment and is housed in a landmark building located at Ansty Park near Coventry. There are four initial research partners: University of Birmingham, The University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and TWI Limited. There are three founding industry members: Rolls Royce, Airbus UK and Aero Engine Controls. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult which is supported by the Technology Strategy board.
"New high spec equipment and software for research projects is continually coming into the business. This gives many training opportunities and with work being so varied I don't think I would ever have the opportunity to get bored at the MTC. The MTC is also very determined to progress engineers to chartered status. This supports my development but also awards me with an internationally recognised qualification."
Advanced Tooling and Fixturing