I see this project as the opportunity to experiment both cutting edge technology and try new things that a company with financial pressure and overhead will not dare to try. But It’s not only about choosing the right elecrtonic component and technology but also how you will be producing it to make it right. So I want to try to make Kheper V3 in France, the country I’m from. Both to have a high quality product and also as an ethical commitment. During my design I used as much surface components (CMS) to reduce manual intervention during the assembly and test of the product to have a competitive price. I first consulted 3 companies and selected SCAITA because they were recommended to me and also because they seem to be the right size for my production as they can handle very small batches from 10 to a few thousands of units per month. SCAITA is located near Mulhouse in the East part of France, next to the German border, the building does not look so good from the outside, but I find that quite reassuring, as the company finished to pay their facility for many years, it probably means cheaper price for the customer !
Let me guide you on all the steps to make a product as they were presented to me during my factory visit : It all starts by placing the components on the electronic board (PCB), first a layer of conductive paste is placed using a screen, holes in the screen will only put past where it is needed on the PCB : First the screen needs to be cleaned:
hen this machine put the conductive paste thru holes on the PCB underneath:
The a pick and place machine place with an extreme precision the mounted surface components (CMS) on the PCB Then it need to go in a refusion oven that will melt the paste to solder components to the board :
At that point you still need to insert passhole components into the board, this operation is manual :
Then it pass to that machine to solder passhole components :
at that point the Board is finished ! But still need to be tested 100% of boards are tested, combining visual and automatic placement check :
Then the software as to be loaded, and the functional test could begin that will be done here :
If everything works then epoxy resin is poured in the box to protect Kheper V3 from vibration and humidity on that machine :
At the end of the test a label is printed with and labeled on the box. Each number of Kheper is unique, this is use to trace production and potential returns of products.
The product is put in the carton and sent to the logistical center that will dispatch to clients
So what is the conclusion? is it more expensive to make in France ? Yes, just a bit more than making in far East Asia, but it all depends on how you design you product, a well thought product will minimize manual operations and the price gap will be not that big compared to Asia production. And you will win on the other hand the proximity of your factory allowing to correct some issue long the process, I’m sure will pay back with a better qualityfor you my customers.