Determining What is Best For You
How Many Feeder Slots Will You Need?
Feeder slots can be one of the most confusing aspects of pick and place machines. A machine that has 64 feeder slots won't necessarily hold 64 feeders. Feeder slots are designed for 8-mm tape feeders. If you have larger tape feeders and/or sticks and waffle trays, each feeder will take up two or more feeder slots.
To determine whether a machine has enough capacity for your requirements, you will need to calculate just how many 8-mm feeder slots you'll need.
Tape Feeder Slot Requirements
To calculate your feeder slot requirements, first list how many of each tape feeder size you will need. Then multiply each of those by the number of feeder slots the pick and place manufacturer says each will require.
Tape Feeder Example
For example, if you need 44 8-mm tape feeders and the manufacturer specifications say that each 8-mm tape feeder requires one feeder slot, you will need 44 feeder slots for your 8-mm tape feeders. If you also need two 12-mm feeders, and the manufacturer's specs say that 12-mm tape feeders require two slots each, you will need an additional four 8-mm tape slots (2 feeders x 2 slots/feeder) for your 12-mm feeders, bringing your total slot requirement to 48.
Stick/Tube Feeder Slot Requirements
Generally, each manufacturer's stick feeder will hold multiple sticks or tubes, so you'll first figure out how many sticks or tubes of components you'll have, then figure out how many stick feeders you'll need in order to accommodate them, based on the number of lanes a stick feeder from that manufacturer holds. Finally, calculate out how many slots in the feeder base your stick feeder(s) will take up.
Stick Feeder Example
If you have 4 sticks and the available stick feeder holds 10 sticks, you would need one stick feeder. If the stick feeder requires 9 slots, your total slot requirement, building on the tape feeder example, is now 57.
Matrix Trays and Cut Strip Tape Holders
Matrix tray holders and cut strip tape holders are sometimes mounted in feeder slots and sometimes placed in the board area. If the tray holder for the machine you're looking at takes up feeder slots, you'll need to find out how many and add that to your requirement.
If, on the other hand, the matrix tray holder goes in the placement area, this will affect the size of the PCB/panel that the machine can handle, so be sure to keep that in mind.