Voltera printer - the beginning..

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Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:12 pm

My new solder paste printer has arrived :excited: :excited: :excited:

Thought I would take someone unboxing pictures in case anyone else on the into web is interested....

So what's in the box... Everything is certainly well packaged that's for sure..

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Very thick foam all around it :thumbup:

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It comes with some blank circuit board, a battery with a few surface mount components.. A real of solder, a few nozzles... And the conductive ink along with some solder paste, tiny amounts of paste but to be expected really..

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First impressions are it looks very solid construction, cast aluminium and the finish is really nice as well.

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Certainly a bit of ingenuity gone into it.. It looks like there sort of stepper motor in the middle, and the threaded shaft actually runs straight through the centre of the motor, then think I have seen a arrangement like that before but looks very sturdy I must say.

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Re: Voltera printer

Post by exxos » Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:13 pm

At first you have to calibrate it with the calibration the head, it measures all over the PCB to gauge the height of everything...

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The first print I think I had too much tension on the print cartridge as it seemed to put down too much paste..

As a side note, the Gerber files this PCB was slightly wrong and some pads are not correctly printed etc it was more the IC which I was interested in..

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My second go I use less pressure on the cartridge and ended up with too little paste..

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My third go wasn't too bad...
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In any case, not much time for playing around tonight so I just used the heated bed to reflow the solder to see how it looked...

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I think it turned out really well overall it looks nice and consistent which is all that matters at the end of the day

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My plan is to them flux up such boards, put the chip on, then reflow again.. this way it doesn't smudge the paste when putting parts on... bit of a extra step, but i think in theory it would be almost impossible to get solder bridges... Have to try just putting the chip on the paste afterwards as well to see how reliable that works out, but at least I have a Plan B if they end up with solder bridges or something..
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Re: Voltera printer

Post by exxos » Tue Oct 20, 2020 4:15 pm

So here come my initial gripes and thoughts with it all...

The manual which comes with it is pretty basic, just a couple of English pages which don't really tell you anything... There is no software CD, but then again this is just how things are now and I am fine with downloading more updated software for the manufacturers site.. Installation of the software all went well thankfully! The software tells you step-by-step exactly what to do.. so you pretty much don't even have to read them manual, even if there is one somewhere..

Solder seems to ooze out of the nozzle when the printing has finished... It needs a retract when finished setting or something...

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There seems to be some odd bug in the software for reflowing... As it was stuck on the below image for about 15 minutes before I manually stopped it by hitting the emergency stop button..

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I tried reflow again and it was flashing between a start button and " remove printhead" or something like that... So I removed the printhead and clicked start of any started heating up.. Time estimates that 24 minutes, but basically it's like three minutes to heat up, and ages to cool down afterwards.

I think probably what it really needs is a small fan assembly which can be clipped on and have the fan running to cool down the board quicker once its finished... Is not really a showstopper thing anyway.. I'm unlikely to use the heated bed anyway as I will likely use my normal PCB ovens..

At one point the software freaked out..

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Not really sure what was going on there, but I just move their head assembly to the left and right again and it seemed fine after that :shrug:

I also managed to bend one of the nozzles within like five minutes of unboxing the thing :roll: it actually gives you the image of this as well The software :lol: But in my defence, there is end caps for the cartridges to protect the nozzle, but ironically this had the opposite effect, as when I pulled Off I think I must have done it at a angle which caught the head while removing it :roll: I think the caps would have been better being a screw one fit rather than a push fit so this wouldn't happen then..

I opened up a few support topics to ask various questions and discuss issues but I've been locked out now :lol: :roll:

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One of my queries was the calibration tool.. Where it measures the height of the PCB in various places and I assume this is a highly accurate measurement... But when that tool is removed and the paste dispensing head is fitted, the head can actually move up and down the assembly a millimetre or two, so I do not see how the calibration tool can accurately work.. I would think it would also depend how tight the nozzle is fitted to the syringe.. Any tolerances in anything would surely invalidate what the calibration tool measured :shrug: In any case I have asked on the forum about this and will check back here later to see what their responses..

Calibrating the pressure on the base syringe is simply done by turning a gear on the top of it.. The instructions say to turn it one way until the paste comes out slowly, then turn it back quarter of a turn.. But this seems a little bit hit and miss to me already.. But I also suggested on their forum was a software option to actually draw some test pads somewhere on the board and have the software manually increase and decrease the pressure on various pads and just let the user decide which is the best one to use.. Of course I'm not saying this is ultimately bad thing either way, but I think the manual process and trial and error steps could be automated away with a little tweaking software to print test pads out first.

Of course I have not fully explored the software or even read the manual.. So there may well be features in there I have not yet seen yet... But I just wanted to post the initial stuff of what happened overall today more than anything..
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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Thu Oct 22, 2020 4:29 pm

Right so the software does actually have the option to select individual pads where you can test out the paste flow rate on a couple of pads at the time :thumbup:


One of the first main annoyances of the thing is the C-shaped part which goes around the nozzle :roll: There is no way to align the probe to the pads without a magnifier and that C-shaped parties just in the way constantly, to the point I am tempted to hacksaw it off :twisted:

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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Thu Oct 22, 2020 6:23 pm

First go of a TQFN package... bit to much pressure on the solder but oh well.. couldn't find any PLDs so just reflowed it and will sort it out another time..





Feking cam out of focus AGAIN, it looks fine on the screen as well :roll:




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Not too shabby for a first go at this package :)

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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:08 pm

I have worked something out, it has a "kick" setting which sets the paste flowing before it actually gets to the first pad.. so the paste is literally hanging out of the nozzle on the first pad which is why it ends up with a blob...but then the whole assembly is not moving fast enough to get rid of the paste...

So I have reduced the chip setting by about 25% stop this using problem, only then I had to reduce the speed down several times because the paste is not flowing fast enough now to cover the pads...

But this is the test I just did... Considering how tiny those parts are, I have 50% filled them all now, that is some tiny resolution there!

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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by rpineau » Thu Oct 22, 2020 8:53 pm

That last one looks good. Once melted it should make a clean pad contact.
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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Mon Oct 26, 2020 4:51 pm

Most tests.. biggest problem currently is getting the alignment right :roll:

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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by exxos » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:24 pm

So after reflow lots of solder balls.. but otherwise, kinda looks good...

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EDIT:

2nd go a lot better :)

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EDIT

3rd go :)

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Re: Voltera printer - the beginning..

Post by PhilC » Mon Oct 26, 2020 7:53 pm

@exxos nicely done. Is that using the built in heated bed as well?
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