3M, the diversified technology company, has launched Universal Cover Tape (UCT), a development in cover tape technology that improves accuracy of surface mounted electronic component ‘pick and place’. Benefits include increased production efficiency, faster printed circuit board (PCB) manufacture and reduced cost of ownership.
Unlike traditional cold or heat sealed cover tapes, UCT has a scored line on each side of the component pocket, so that only that middle portion is lifted, allowing the adhesive edges to maintain contact with the corresponding carrier tape below. This means that peel strength is maintained at a consistent level throughout the pick and place process, so the risk of inadvertent jolt and misalignment of the component is minimised. Additionally, as the adhesive remains on the carrier tape, no adhesive residue can rest on the feeder and cause production issues.
In an independent study conducted by 3M Singapore in 2009 for an existing customer in Asia, the total time savings achieved through using UCT were 74 per cent when including maintenance, reduced set-up time, power consumption and re-work. Other advantages include faster throughput of components and less need for stringent observation at the taping station.
As well as greater precision compared to traditional cover tapes, UCT also provides improved productivity compared to heat-activated adhesive tapes, but without the need to apply heat. This helps to reduce energy consumption and eliminates the requirement for heat-sealing components on tape and reeling machinery. UCT is compatible with most carrier tapes and pocket sizes and is available in 300 metre lengths.
UCT represents the latest development from 3M for the electronics manufacturing industry and joins an existing range that includes carrier and cover tapes and trays, flexible circuits, static control products and interconnect systems.