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Axial Insertion machine Competitive Analysis – Amistar AI-6448 vs Universal 6241D

2023-02-09 17:51:23

This paper compares Amistar’s Model AI-6448 Inserter/Sequencer and Universal’s Model 6241D VCD/Sequencer machines.  

Amistar Corporation, head quartered in San Marcos, California, is a small company – 154 employees and ~ $20 mil in annual sales.  Both resources and exposure are limited and Amistar predominantly sells via representatives.  To my knowledge, manufacture of the Amistar Model AI-6448 was discontinued approximately 7 years ago.  Because of this, current information about Amistar is limited.

Amistar advertises the AI-6448 on their web page as follows:

The Amistar AI-6448 is a fully automated Axial component inserter. 

Stand alone automation: sequences & inserts in one operation 

Cycle rate of 9,600 insertions per hour 

Capacity: 64 cartridges, 88 reels 

Automatic optical position correcting via PCS (Position Correcting Servo) 

Axial component verifier 

Lead protrusion inspection 

Microprocessor control 

Easy to program 

Easy to use

Amistar’s approach to axial insertion with their model AI-6448 is very different from Universal’s.  Axial lead components are cut at the dispensing head and dispensed down a tube via free fall (gravity) compressed air. The component is then recaptured at the transfer station for eventual insertion into the PCB.  The Amistar machine has capacity for 88 reels and 64 cartridges, but no ammo pack capability.  Each cartridge is kitted off line and capable of handling a maximum of 75 components.  Some customers believe this feature works well for small production runs, although it does add another preparation step to the process, as well as additional component handling, which increases the potential for component damage and or errors.

Other differences from the method in which Universal handles axial components include the way in which components are centered.  Amistar centers on lead end instead of the component body.  This can lead to components being cut off-center and consequently effect insertion reliability.  

In order to utilize the AI-6448’s method of transferring components to the insertion area, the positioning system is very low to the floor making it difficult to maintain and/or access.  Universal FE’s have had the opportunity to evaluate AI-6448’s installed at customer locations and have reported concerns with the durability, accuracy and repeatability of the rotary table.  

While the Amistar Model AI-6448 can be equipped with board handling, the method utilized is limited to stand-alone applications, not allowing for pass-through or in-line capability and takes up a lot of floor space.  

In the past, Amistar has sold the AI-6448 when the prospective customer is interested in combined sequencing and insertion and price is a major factor.  Typically, the price of the AI-6448 is much less than the 6241 in a similar configuration (similar in a sense that there are similar number of inputs).  When speed, capability and machine performance are added to the equation, the AI-6448 is not as attractively priced.  Because Amistar has not manufactured the AI-6448 in 7 years, no current pricing information is available to us.


Amistar Model AI-6448

Axial Insertion Machine

Universal Model 6241D

VCD Sequencer/Inserter


9,600 cph

16,000 cph

Max PCB Size w/Board Handling

20″ x 20″

(508mm x 508mm)

19″ x 16″ 

(483mm x 406mm)

Max PCB Size w/out Board Handling

20″ x 20″

(508mm x 508mm)

18″ x 22″ 

(457mm x 559mm)

Max # of Inputs

52mm only:  64 cartridges, 88 reels 26mm not available

ammo pack not available

52mm: 220 stations in 20 station increments

26mm: 220 stations in 20 station increments

Reel and/or Ammo Pack

Insertion Span

Std:.300″ – .800″ 7.62mm – 20.3mm)

5mm:  Not available

Std: .300″ – .950″ (7.6mm – 24.1mm)

5mm: .197″ – .850″ (5mm – 21.6mm)

Component Centering

Component Leads

Component Body

Board Error Correction




Yes  – limited capability


Lead Sensing


Yes – dual lead

Rotary Table



On-Line Programming



Automatic Board Handling


Yes – designed and manufactured by Universal

Part Transfer






Part Repair



Max Body Length



Max Body Diameter


.420″(10.69mm) – 2 x PCB thickness

Lead Diameter

Standard Tooling: 

copper lead

.015″- .036″(.38mm – .9mm)

.015″- .032″(.38mm – .81mm)

Standard Tooling: 

copper lead

.015″- .026″(.38mm – .66mm)

.015″- .032″(.38mm – .81mm)

5mm Tooling: copper lead

Not available

.015″- .032″(.38mm – .81mm)

5mm Tooling: copper lead

Not available

.015″- .032″(.38mm – .81mm)

Jumper Wire Capability



Low Part Sensing



Universal’s 6241D is still manufactured and design development activities continue to enhance and improve the machine as part of Universal’s ongoing commitment to the through-

hole market.  In addition to the items listed above, recent enhancements in the Model 6241D product line include:

Axial Tech Advisor is available which provides Operators and Maintenance Technicians on-line, menu-driven diagnostic information and assistance on machine operation, troubleshooting, maintenance and repair at the time of need.  It is available in English, Chinese and Spanish.

Newly designed jumper wire dispensing system provides fast, reliable and accurate wire feed and accommodates .45mm to .6mm wire diameters

Newly designed dispensing heads are easy to operate, greatly extend life of wearable parts and allow for quick changeover with minimal scrap.

The 6241D now offers a low-level Sequencer Add-On Module for easy reach loading.  It features low part sensing to alert the operator before parts are depleted, allowing replenishment without interrupting machine operation, removable end scrap bins for easy clean out, and refire is offered on each dispensing head.

Precision WBH’s, both adjustable and fixed are available.  Universal can also accommodate Amistar WBH’s.   

The 6241D contains a 4 color light tower which signals machine operating status.

New and improved board handling increases system reliability, ease of PCB changeover and ease of assembly. (See SH BHS Improvements Presentation).

Newly designed 5mm tooling is now available for increased reliability, longer life and better handling of bent lead component input.  (See 5mm Tooling Improvements Presentation).  Customers have told us this tooling lasts three times longer than the old style tooling

Universal offers a AAA version of the VCD Sequencer machine that is capable of inserting 26mm input.

The 6241D is CE marked to meet all European health and safety standards.

While Universal does not offer conversion software for converting Amistar pattern programs, the Amistar programs could be treated as CAD data and translated via the CAD translator available in PPU.  If your prospective customer would like to supply us with one of their programs and briefly explain the fields, we will review the program and offer suggestions for performing the translation.

And last, but not least, Universal offers a support infrastructure which includes a knowledgeable and experienced Field Service organization, world wide Training Centers and Parts Distribution Centers as well as an extensive installed base.     

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