Ordered from Kickstarter and received quickly, this solder paste dispenser really changed my life !! Now since about 3-4 month I’m using it regularly and it still mking me really happy.
It has start from a Kickstarter project I back on but failed the first time. This was disappointing as the classical tool I’m using for dispensing solder paste are really noisy. So when they did a second KS and make it I was really happy. More over they are neighbor of me (about 200km on the Est) and seeing a such good idea made from France is as a good news as a surprise.
Basically a solder paste dispenser is a tool to place solder paste on a PCB to later solder the component pads. You can do it with a soldering iron manually, but you are quickly limited to large SMD and resistor / capacitor. You can use a solder mask but you need a machine and it is quite expensive for small number of units or prototypes. You can also use a syringe and do it manually but you will quickly have handache as the pressure you need to make for thin pad is really high.
So you can use tools to dispense your solder paste manually. Up to now, the tools were such Chinese solutions :
This is working really well for most of the SMD but limited for small pads like TSSOP. The productivity is good and you can change all the timing configuration.
In fact the main issue is noise !! As this is working with a air compressor like this one :
and the air compressor is making so much noise you do not want to solder more than 1 or 2 PCB at a time. This is the main limitation of this solution.
I-Extruder is working totally differently : you have a step motor pushing the solder paste. This allows to have a great precision in the quantity of soldering paste you can dispense and it makes no noise.
I let you appreciate the experience in this video :
The tool on the dispenser is the most precise one I was able to use with my solder paste. It is good for most of the small SMD and is quite good up to the TSSOP. QFN is still too thin.
The productivity is good as it is easy to cover large surface even with a small tool, you dispense the solder paste like you draw. The I-Extruder is like a big pen so it is easy to manipulate. The weight is not heavy so you can use it for a while before suffering of this.
The solder paste is dispensed by clicking on a button, easy, ergonomic. You can configure different setting to choose the quantity of solder paste you want and the frequency of dispensing. You can save different settings configuration in different mode. You can also use it as a pick & place tool.
In my experience, the configuration is not really easy and the mode change is not totally ergonomic. So at the end once I’ve set the device to a configuration where the solder past quantity is good for my smallest pad I keep it for all. For larger pad, I’m keeping my finger on the delivery button.
The only limitation I see is related to the precision of the solder paste dispensed: the step motor is not really precised (I assume the are using 1/2 or 1/4 of step) for small quantity and I have a variance in the delivered quantity for the same time pressing the button. As a consequence, for certain components I had some pad not correctly soldered due to a lack of solder paste. This is easy to correct visually but in a such case I’m still using my classical tool. This is representing about 10% of the cases and the other 90% of the time, I’m free of noise !!!
This tool is about 190€, about the same price of classical tools (dispenser + compressor)
Be careful : even Off, my unit is warming when the step motor has stop is a certain position. I recommend to physically unplug it.
So i just want to say thank you to the I-Extruder team : you made my days better.