New generation eC-reflow-mate

The new generation eC-reflow-mate reflow oven delivers better soldering control and more comfortable operation.

Since we shipped the first units in April 2011 we have delivered more than 300 eC-reflow-mate reflow ovens to designers, SMEs and research establishments across the whole of Europe. At Eurocircuits we strive to make continuous improvements on all our products, hardware and software. Our goal is to make each product more effective in meeting customer needs as well as easier and more secure to use. So, when we needed to manufacture a new batch of reflow ovens, we first sat down to review the full range of customer feedback. We looked to see what improvements we could make to the design and operation of the next generation of the eC-reflow-mate.

We looked at three areas in particular:

  1. Better control of the oven temperature, especially to ensure the most even soldering across the board
  2. Smoother and more reliable drawer opening
  3. Safer and more comfortable operation

1. Better control of the oven temperature especially to ensure the most even soldering across the board.

We have introduced three new features:

  • The socket for the external temperature sensor (thermocouple) is now mounted on the drawer, not on the wall of the oven. This makes it easier and more secure to mount on the PCB. The sensor ensures that the heat of the oven is calibrated to the actual heat on the PCB.
  • The drawer now has a floating aluminium plate with space to expand as it heats up. This ensures that the board stays perfectly flat during soldering.
  • The resistance and coiling of each IR lamp has always been specially calibrated according to its position in the oven to ensure an even heat across the soldering area, Based on our experience of ovens in the field we have recalculated the resistance and coiling of each lamp to get an even more uniform spread of heat.

2. Smoother and more reliable drawer opening.

After the soldering cycle is completed the drawer opens automatically to minimise the thermal stress on the PCB. We have modified the drawer’s telescopic slides so that they open more smoothly even after thermal expansion during the soldering cycle. In addition the user can now adjust the speed at which the drawer opens by changing the tension of the opening spring.

3. Safer and more comfortable operation.

We have made some changes to the front glass, to the handle and to the case insulation to make sure that no parts which need to be touched can get uncomfortably hot.

Sadly, these new features have some cost implications. At the same time raw material costs have risen significantly since we set the oven price in 2010. Many of our current users tell us that their machines have paid for themselves within 6 months, and have helped cut manual assembly times by 70%. Based on this experience we are confident that the eC-reflow-mate remains first-in-class and offers excellent value for money.

The new eC-reflow mate will start shipping by the end of April 2013

Eurocircuits-CadSoft EAGLE workshop for electronics engineering apprentices

Eurocircuits and CadSoft run their first EAGLE workshop for electronics engineering apprentices.

On 29 – 30 January 2013 Eurocircuits and CadSoft organised a joint workshop on PCB design for engineering apprentices at SMA Solar Technology AG in Kassel, Germany.

SMA Solar Technology leads the market in Germany for solar power installations. After surveying the market, they decided that all their electronics engineering apprentices should be trained on the EAGLE PCB Layout package.

Uwe Doerr from Eurocircuits started the January workshop with an illustrated presentation to the whole group of first and second year apprentices. The presentation showed how we make 4-layer multilayers at our factories in Eger, Hungary, and Baesweller, Germany. To make it even clearer and easier to understand, Uwe had brought along sample panels taken from the various production stages.


Richard Hammerl from CadSoft was in action on both days. On day 1 he gave basic instruction to a group of first year apprentices who had only limited experience of the layout program. This part of the course provided basic information to help them get started with schematic capture and PCB layout. On the second day, Richard provided more in-depth instruction to 17 second year apprentices.

All in all, more than 30 young engineers joined in the sessions. Their keen interest, individual feedback from their practical sessions, and a host of questions on a wide range of topics ensured that the two days were both educational and highly entertaining. Everyone, including Helmut Fligge, Team Leader for Technical Training, agreed that the two days were a great success, and should if possible be repeated in future.

 

Eurocircuits India, new PCB production plant for the Asian-Pacific market

Eurocircuits is running production plants in Hungary an Germany. The capacity of both board-shops is sufficient for the European market and still leaves free capacity for the Eurocircuits business to grow.

Why did we step into a venture to build a brand new production facility in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India?


  • We believe in producing close to the market. That is why all our boards supplied to the European market are produced in Europe.
  • A market experiment with PCB Power – a copy of the Eurocircuits business for India – shows that there is a local Indian market for prototypes and small volume. We hope this will also be the case for the rest of the Asian-Pacific market.
  • Having a PCB production close to the engineering unit, gives our engineers the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a real production environment. To make their experience useful for Eurocircuits, the production environment should work in the same way as the European Eurocircuits factories.
  • Last but not least, we grabbed an opportunity. A newly built PCB production plant in an export oriented zone got stuck halfway the project. The necessary approvals to start the production were already there (an important factor if you want to start producing in India). The facility was big enough to host the engineering unit as well as our new production unit.

By the end of March the production of double sided boards will start. At this moment and during my visit end of February, trial orders were running in the production. These boards are shipped to Hungary for quality inspection.

Our Hungarian team supports and guides the local Indian management in setting up the factory and getting the quality at the right level.

Let us have a look inside our new production unit:

Inside, the factory looks very similar to our production plant in Hungary. But outside, India is a different world 🙂

Visit new PCB Planet office in Gandhinagar, India

At the end of February I went to visit the new location of PCB Planet.

PCB Planet is the PCB CAM engineering unit serving Eurocircuits . They also serve other board houses in Europe, Asia and the USA. This dedicated CAM unit was set up in 2000 by the Eurocircuits management in Gandhinagar, India.

In Eurocircuits we believe in CAM automation to speed up the data preparation process as well as to guarantee a consistent high quality output level. But the skills and processing power of our CAM engineers remain a decisive factor. The growing number of jobs we process on a daily basis ( more then 300 daily in February 2013) means more workstations and more engineers. The building that we so nicely decorated in 2008 became to small to house alll these engineers in a comfortable way.

Between November 2012 and January 2013 we moved our whole operation to a building in a new industrial site in Gandhinagar.

In this new location there is now enough office space available to accomodate more than 200 engineers, and there is still enough empty space for future expansion.


PCB Planet is now located on the same site where Eurocircuits is starting a PCB prototype production plant for the Asian-Pacific market. The training of new engineers includes an “on-site” training in PCB production technology.

The Teamleaders have their desks between the CAM operators, but there are plenty of meeting rooms available to have discussions.

All work and no play (makes Jack a dull boy).