3D Printing Allows Rapid Development, Lower Cost, Just-In-Time Inventory
We recently launched a variant product primarily due to 3D printing
BPM Microsystems manufactures device programmers (like copiers for microchips). Our mid-sized automated programmer, the 3910, can be configured with up to 4 of our programming sites, each of which can program up to 4 devices concurrently. The housing for the sites is a fabricated metal “cage”, which doesn’t allow for any custom configuration.
Enter the 3D printer…
Our engineering and production teams experimented with 3D printing individual site chassis. They were able to rapidly iterate different prototypes (rapid as in overnight compared to 5-8 weeks); final pieces were printed in carbon fiber filament.
“I’m moving BPM’s manufacturing and rapid prototyping into 3D printing because it’s so fast and flexible,” says Jon Bondurant, Vice President of Operations at BPM. “The reduced turnaround times allow for fast iteration of continuous improvement cycles. 3D printing creates very little waste and uses recyclable materials making it a sustainable approach for replacing wasteful traditional manufacturing processes.”
3D printing enabled an existing platform to increase possible sites from 4 to 7 (a 75% increase in capacity) while reducing the cost of the site chassis from hundreds of dollars to a little over $10 in materials. Site chassis no longer need to be ordered in advance or pulled from existing inventory; they can be printed on-demand when the order comes in. We are looking into expanding into other areas, such as sockets and other parts that we previously machined on our CNC.
To see the 3928 go to bpmmicro.com/3928-
What is the Best Way to Get Devices Programmed?
There are lots of ways to get your data on devices, and there’s no one way that is always better than another. Options that are available today:
- In-House Off-Line Programming
- Program at ICT (in-circuit test)
- Program with In-System Programming (ISP) at Functional Test
- In-Line at Surface-Mount Technology (SMT) stage
- Program at Final Assembly
- Outsource to Programming Center
So which programming method is best in your specific application?
Automotive Programming by Volume of Devices (The charts in this article are based on feedback from BPM Microsystem’s automotive customers )
Just as an example, automotive OEMs use a variety of methods to get the job done. There’s an advantage to programming at the In-Circuit Test (ICT) where all of the components are already soldered on the board. By doing programming and testing in one step, you can combine several steps and save a lot of time. This only works when the programming time is very low (less than a few seconds); if not, you could end up with a huge bottleneck, and in the event of an error you likely have to scrap the whole board or remove and re-solder the bad device and do it all again.
Consider this: the majority of devices programmed for automotive applications are done off-line (50%). Both in-house off-line and outsourcing to a programming house are programmed on the same equipment using off-line automated programming systems, such as BPM’s 4910.
Take a look at what happens when programming times go way up…
This chart factors data density. When programming times are in excess of the beat rate (beat rate is the total throughput on an SMT line) on the SMT line, off-line programming accounts for 80% (in-house off-line + outsourced at programming house). As data density, device complexity, and the number of devices in each car continues to increase, the need to reduce the cost of programming will be amplified like never before. In-system, in-circuit, and In-line programming become less cost- and time-effective.
With off-line programming, the output can pace with the production line by adding shifts and/or adding machines in combination with strategic outsourcing. In-house off-line programming will continue to grow by providing unmatched efficiencies, producing a lower cost per device, and drastically lowering the lead-times necessary when you out-source. In addition, the software can be updated more frequently, allowing the line to have the latest revision of the source code. And from an intellectual property (IP) perspective, keeping your source code in-house makes your intellectual investment more secure from theft. (IP Theft: See 2018 Bloomberg article )
This is where we can help. BPM’s team can collect the specifications for your project and do a thorough analysis (benchmarks, ROI) and give recommendations. We’ll guide you to ask the right questions. We’re not always the best option, and if that’s the case, we’ll let you know. When you factor in quality, ease-of-use, throughput, cost-per-device, and long shelf-life (some of our machines are still producing after 10+ years), BPM should be part of the conversation.
Off-line programming is the process of programming the device (either by a manual or automated process) prior to SMT or manual soldering the device to the board.
Surface-mount technology (SMT) is a method for producing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). An electronic device so made is called a surface-mount device (SMD).
In-system programming (ISP), also called in-circuit serial programming (ICSP), is the ability of devices to be programmed while installed in a complete system. The primary advantage of this feature is that it allows manufacturers of electronic devices to integrate programming and testing into a single production phase, and save money, rather than requiring a separate programming stage prior to assembling the system.
If you are currently outsourcing your device programming, here’s 6 reasons you may want to reconsider (and if you’re already programming in-house, here are 6 reasons to feel good)
It may sound simple, but just having your program in your facility is a major deterrent to intellectual theft. You control access, and with our suite of tools that all work together, you have control over the entire process— from the first article to production.
5. Advanced Cybersecurity
BPM offers flexible security solutions for serialization, encryption, key handling, and user control requirements. BPM Microsystems Software Engineering team can provide professional services to consult, scope and quote a complete cybersecurity solution.
4. Easy Software
Use BPWin to set up and run your jobs, using our ever-growing collection of features and algorithms. The user-friendly interface helps you set up, run and save your programming jobs with ease. Factory integration through the BPWin API streamlines production processes.
The winner of the 2019 NPI Award for Production Software. BPM’s advanced patented Auto-Z teach technology eliminates the need for a highly skilled operator to set critical Z-height for pick-and-place functions. WhisperTeach™ offers faster set up times and improved yields! WhisperTeach™ eliminates common Z-height errors such as miss picks, miss place, and socket continuity flaws.
2. “One Programmer to Rule Them All”
BPM’s 9th Generation universal programmer offers the fastest flash programming times as well as the widest universal device coverage all in a single programming site. BPM allows customers to efficiently program first articles, offering manual and automated production using the same algorithms and sockets across the entire line— saving both time and money.
1. Service Excellence Award
The Service Excellence Awards recognize companies that received the highest customer service ratings, as judged by their own customers. Customers of participating companies rated each company in five service categories including dependability, quality, responsiveness, technology and value for the price. BPM Microsystems ranked first place across device programming equipment providers. What does that mean to you? You can count on BPM to take care of you, literally for years to come.