Over the course of last year, we have been busy upgrading our equipment and our capabilities. I like to think that Specialized Solutions is a unique provider of electronic assemblies because we typically only produce the designs that we create. This allows for us to have full visibility and control over the entire product development process.
A lot of what we do is the DefCon CHV badge. We start planning for it over a year in advance - we started planning this year's badge before DefCon started last year. As part of planning, we want to make sure that we can handle producing the design. Every year we not only grow the badge, but we grow our capabilities as well.
So this year, we have some new "team members". They are older, but they are workhorses and produce very good results.
We picked up a used Samsung CP45NEO late last year. It was a long road to get a heavily used machine back up to peak condition (new power supplies, some new controller cards, pneumatic parts, numerous calibrations and adjustments, etc.). It took four months of work. But now this guy can really fly. I am amazed at how inexpensive some of the parts for this machine are - probably because this machine has a very wide usage in Asia (and probably elsewhere as well). For example, we can get fully-reconditioned 8x2mm feeders for less than $40 each.
Last year we used an updated Quad IV to pick and place the badges. The Samsung smokes it in terms of speed and accuracy. However, there are some things I miss about the Quad. We didn't get rid of the Quad - we have to use it this year along with the Samsung due to the high part count on the badge.
We also picked up a dinosaur of a stencil printer - an MPM AP-25. Same story with it - adjustments, custom tooling, new parts, etc. were required to get it back to peak operating condition. Even through this machine is old - I am very pleased with the results that it produces. Last year we were hand-stenciling the badges. Let's just say that we fully appreciate fully-automated stencil printing! (And yes, that is a picture of Octavio Coleman Esq.)
For reflow we use an Ersa 5. We used an Ersa 3 last year. This guy also required some TLC (man alive that conveyor oil is expensive!) but now he should be ready for many more years of service (fingers crossed!).