Shenzhen Blog (page 2)

Injection Mold Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 4

At this place we got to see them designing and making the molds. This was pretty crazy to me! Basically you can 3D-model your part and then ship it to them and they design a mold around it which has all the mechanical parts needed to make the mold. Once the design is there, they will CNC mill it out roughly. For finer details, they will do what’s called Electric Deposition, where they use a finely CNC’ed copper electrode in the mirror image of the design and repeatedly tap it onto the mold with a massive current running. This eventually cuts out the design layer by layer by blasting away the steel and copper.

PCB Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 4

First they hand check the design to conform with their capabilities. They will make minor changes if necessary.

Next they drill out any holes needed in the boards. They very frequently check the bit quality, and bits are only used for 3000 holes before being swapped out.

Next they do some electroplating stages

Here they do the photo chemical processing steps that are light sensitive

Then they do silkscreening (I’m missing a picture of this…)

Next is depanelization, or cutting out the individual boards from the panel.

Finished boards

Next they have Quality Control:

  • Chemical checks that boards have the correct properties

Inspecting the boards quality visually, they cut out a chunk of board, encase it in resin and then grind it down to the edge

They also digitally check every single board for continuity/impedance.  This machine essentially has two needles it touches between each point to test,

Automated Board Population/SMT Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 4

We got to go to AQS to see one of their board population/smt lines. This was fucking awesome.

  • Solder Paste Machine

  • SMT Machine

  • Pick and Place

  • Inspection

  • Touch up

  • Solder machine ( a pool of solder grazes the board)

Assembly Line Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 4

At the AQS plant we also got to see the final assembly of a printer. This was really awesome. Printers are super complicated builds so they basically have to be done by hand. Essentially what happens is they have stations with a couple of tasks on them. A person performs the task, scans a barcode on the item, then passes the cart to the next person. There were 100-200 stations for this printer. The barcodes let them make sure each printer has had all steps and also lets a control center monitor to make sure that they are on point for meeting the quota for that day and hour. What’s cool is that each station has an instruction booklet which sets the task. The entire line is essentially a very long pipeline, so they have to carfully balance the pipeline to prevent bottlenecks and keep throughput high. It takes multiple revisions to get it right. Apparently setting up such a line, from end to end, is 3-6 months. Each printer is also fully tested.

Toy Prototyping Factory Tour

Shenzhen Adventure Day 4

We visited a toy studio for a to-be-unnamed toy company (hence, no photos). This place was really cool. Basically, big brands (and not just for toys, clothes, electronics, etc) spec out a thing they want at a very high level, such as “make me a toy that looks like a turtle”. They then send it to a prototyping studio who makes a turtle toy prototype and sends it back for feedback. So the brands essentially monitor markets and tell the protypers what to build to meet it.

© 2017 Jeremy Rubin. All rights reserved.