PCB depaneling is designed to deliver accurate PCB outlines, with all parts and joints intact, and that match or exceed the beat rate of the SMT lines they are integrated with. More than ever, depaneling systems are fully automated inline solutions rather than being operated oine in a batch process. Today depaneling machines are fully integrated and include robotic handling and full systems integration to the customer MES and other shop floor systems.

The router is the only process which actually removes material, and if improperly set up or incorrectly programmed, the router has the capacity to actually destroy a product beyond rework if it is misused or allowed to fall into disrepair. At the point an array of PCBs reach the depaneling system, all the PCBs physical value is close to maximized and the final task must perform. However the machine is only one factor that impacts the final outcome, and this too needs to be understood.

An important but often overlooked feature of depaneling is maintaining process control in respect to tooling and the consideration toward design for air flow and adequate support to negate the cutting forces of the process while accommodating the overall PCB thickness. This presentation considers the changing role of PCB routers in production as integrated facilities with full robotic handling, linked up and downstream to other hardware and software systems. It discusses the methods of assurance used by manufacturers at a factory level, and on site to ensure cutting performance as well as complete process control is maintained over the life of the machine. We will consider cutter compensation as a facility that may benefit the ultra-accurate but be overkill for others and what part vision systems play in adding value to the routing process.

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