TDK is a Japanese manufacturer and supplier of both radial components and Radial insertion equipment. Unlike other Japanese companies, TDK is not vertically integrated in that they do not produce end products. In the past, they did not have dedicated Axial or DIP insertion equipment; this served as a deterrent to customers desiring to buy all their insertion mount equipment from a single source. In 1995, TDK addressed this issue by teaming up with ex-Dynapert personnel to design an Axial component inserter. This agreement produced the AC7 in 1996, followed by the ACS-2 Axial Sequencer.
Similarly, TDK’s Radial Inserter’s are not manufactured by TDK. Instead, they are manufactured by Okuma, Japan, which also produces other TDK products.
The VC7B, VC7C, and now VC-21S machine designs incorporate a sequencer chain that delivers sequenced components to the insertion area, much the same as UIC’s Radial. The main advantage associated with a sequencer design over a shuttle design (such as Panasonic) is greater throughput speed. The component location does not effect throughput speed, and allows for replenishment of depleted components without interrupting production.
In late 1999 TKD introduced the VC-21S, a Radial inserter with a maximum speed of 15,000 cph. Available either as a 2.5/5.0 mm or 5.0/7.5 mm lead span machine, The VC-21S is equipped with an Auto Recovery feature. Additionally, the VC-21S operated with Windows NT. It is available in 40, 80, or 120 stations.
Although the VC-21S has been advertised, no further information is available at this time.
VC7B & VC7C
There is one fundamental difference between the Radial 8 sequencer design and TDK’s design. The VC7A/B/C series transfers the components by grasping the cardboard carrier tape of the component and carrying it horizontally. During the component transfer from the chain clip to the insertion head, the component is rotated 90 degrees to a vertical position and the cardboard tape is cut from the component. The component is then ready for insertion into the PCB, but must be transferred one more time to the insertion head.
When equipped with certain optional features, various processes can be exercised on the component while it is being transferred on the sequencer chain. Components may be electrically verified for capacitance, resistance, and inductance. Minor bends in the leads may be corrected (straightened) by a reforming unit (standard on the VC7B). Components may be rotated using the four position component rotator for insertion of polarized components but not for insertion tooling density clearance issues. However TDK’s process requires an increased number of component transfers. TDK does not offer a rotary table, which is one reason why they offer the component rotator.
1) Horizontal component transfer increases the frequency a component is handled, increasing the possibility of mishandling and mis-insertions. In contrast, the Radial 8 carries the component to the insertion area vertically by the component leads, reducing the “handling” to a single step once the component is placed in the carrier clip.
2) The VC7A/B/C series machine must slow down and therefore reduce productivity for certain component types depending on type and size.
3) The VC7A/B does not offer an auto recovery capability, while the Radial 8 features auto recovery as a standard feature.
4) Like the Radial 8, TDK can employ a soft touch pusher motion when inserting delicate components (stamped leaded parts, for example). However, unlike the Radial 8, this programmable feature slows down the machine. UIC’s soft touch pusher design is utilized for all insertions and does not effect cycle speed, but rather enhances insertion reliability for all components being inserted.
Until the release of the VC-21S in late 1999, The VC7C was TDK’s current Radial offering, a 2.5/5.0 mm lead span machine designed to insert traditional Radial components and radially taped “odd form” type components such as tact switches, potentiometers, and fuse clips. The VC7C can insert components with a maximum body diameter of up to 11mm and is available in three sequencer sizes; 40, 80, and 120 feeder stations.
Options available on TDK’s Radial machines include the four direction reverse unit, reforming (lead straightening) unit (standard on the VC7B), parts checker (verifier), component supply warning (low parts sense) unit, optical correction device (BEC), and board handling (which may include automate PCB width adjuster).
TDK offers also offers limited Axial insertion equipment. The AC7 single head inserter with a 16,360/hour cycle rate. They also offer a ACS-2 Axial component sequencer with up to 180 stations. TDK’s product line also includes a full line of SMC products.
Distribution & Pricing Strategies
TDK’s presence is global and they maintain a large installed base. Their pricing strategy is both geographic and situation specific. TDK’s prices tend to be lower and their allowable discounts tend to be higher in Asia and with multi-national accounts, than in other parts of the world.
We have seen aggressive discounting by TDK to acquire or in an attempt to retain key accounts in North America. When board handling is required, the Radial 8 with board handling allows UIC to be very price competitive with similarly configured VC7B/C. The price should be weighed against other factors such as features, capabilities and on a price/performance basis. While TDK’s machine is generally perceived as a reliable machine, when a hard failure does occur is has been difficult and time consuming to return the machine to production status. Also, there have been reports (especially in North America) of poor field service and replacement parts availability.