mikeselectricstuff wrote:The other big issue is that for short-run jobs is setup time gets significant, and unless everything is on reels it gets fiddly - even then if you don't have enough feeders you spend a lot of time reloading them for different jobs. Not to mention setting up and cleaning stencils...
Another aspect is that as soon as you start doing work for other people you take on risks of bad boards, wasted parts etc.
I'm not sure I understand your points.
To me, the point is this. If we (product-developers, engineers, inventors, hobbyists) want to develop electronics gizmos with modern devices (0201s, 0.50mm pitch QFNs/BGAs, etc), we NEED some way to develop our PCBs --- or we're "out of business". In other words, to have a pick-and-place machine is a "make or break" distinction. Either we CAN develop these kinds of PCBs, or we CANNOT.
Unless I misunderstand the goals of others who need access to a modern pick-and-place machine, setup time is nearly irrelevant. Why? Because without the machine, our projects would take infinite time to complete (as in "never"). To complain "we need a whole day to install parts on the machine" simply means "we waste 1 day". So what! I've already wasted 2 weeks trying to figure out how to assemble my prototype PCBs! And I'd pay $10K to share a machine just to assemble these PCBs... even if I never made any more later on.
The primary goal is to make prototypes (and maybe later, modest-size production runs) --- NOT to start a "PCB assembly business". Even if some of us did decide to offer such a service eventually, the existing PCB outfits do not guarantee "no waste". In fact, the cheapest outfit I found asks their customers to send 20% extra of every component if they can! Talk about waste!
Actually, I'd be more inclined to "offer/rent time on the machine" than "assemble PCBs". Probably in this case they'd watch one of us owners assemble their PCBs, and be paying for our time more than a specific service. If they were a hobbyist, perhaps we would charge nothing, but require they arrive when we have the time and inclination. If they were someone like me, trying to create a new product to start a new business, perhaps we would charge something now and/or something later on (when they went to market).
Anyway, can you explain more clearly what you were thinking? And do you know PCB assembly businesses that guarantee the PCBs they assemble work? Really? I wish!