The True Cost of Laser Depaneling
Innovative and cost-efficient cutting of Printed Circuit Boards
In addition to mechanical processes, the laser is a promising alternative for separating printed circuit boards (PCBs). While the process used to be cost-intensive, the price-performance ratio of the systems has been steadily improved over the last few years and is now more than competitive than mechanical separation processes.
Laser Depaneling Cost Comparison
The initial cost of setting up the laser system may seem daunting to some, as the set-up cost is significantly higher than traditional depaneling methods such as milling or sawing. However, this should not be the only focus of consideration when it comes to purchasing a laser depaneling system.
Maintenance and Consumables
Common costs for depaneling comes from buying consumable tooling or even post-depaneling or maintenance processes such as cleaning the dust off each PCB when using mechanical depaneling methods. A laser depaneling system however, has no need for expensive consumable routing bits or saw blades, and because no dust is created, there is no dust to clean (or inhale).
Reduced Damage to PCB
Due to the stress-free nature of laser depaneling, production yield is significantly higher compared to mechanical separation processes. Damage to components or the PCB caused by mechanical stresses or deposited dust during mechanical separation processes is completely avoided with the laser system's contactless and dust-free process.
The wasted space caused by the pre-routed channels surrounding each board can now be reclaimed. By using a laser beam that is measured in mircons, the pre-routes can be eliminated. This enables the individual PCBs to be closer together, often allowing for an additional row of PCBs on the same panel. Consuming less raw material and reducing the amount of waste not only benefits your bottom line, but also benefits our environment.
Sustainability and Resource Efficiency
The significant factors of sustainability and resource efficiency can be addressed through realized material savings as well as the reduction of potential errors and the associated increased yield of printed circuit board production. These will become even more important in the future, especially in view of the finite nature of fossil resources.
The most efficient, waste-free and error-free separation of printed circuit boards should therefore be aimed for.
Despite requiring a hefty sum to switch to a laser depaneling system, the long-term payoffs produced in terms of cost-savings and increased output shows that laser depaneling is far ahead of the competition.
Within the last ten years, the price-performance ratio of laser depaneling machines on the market has increased almost tenfold while traditional mechanical systems remained almost unchanged. Gone are the days where laser depaneling was used only for the most demanding applications for cutting complex flex PCBs. Laser systems are here to stay.