Depanelizer module (future feature)

The depanelizer module will allow you to easily and quickly accomplish two specific tasks:

  • Generate a milling program for removing the break-off tabs from a panel
  • Design a fixture for holding the panel frame and boards in place during the milling process

The module will be a new feature in Macaos Enterprise version 5.0, planned for release later this year.

Generating a milling program

  1. Click on the Auto-tab button. This should automatically create a depanelization segment for each break-off tab in the panel. If necessary, you may need to adjust the maximum tab width* and try again.
  2. If you need to add a tab that was not automatically created, click on the Tab button (so that it is down). Click near the point where the tab begins, and move the mouse pointer near the point where the tab ends. The selection line will automatically snap to the nearest slot segment endpoint. Release the mouse button to create a depanelization segment.
  3. Click on the Drill button (so that it is down). Click on any drill hole in the panel to add a drill hole to the milling file. Drill holes are used for registration pins. A milling file in G-Code format includes a compulsory stop (M00) after the drill holes are drilled and before the depanelization segments are milled.
  4. If you need to delete a depanelization line or drill hole, click on the Delete tab button (so that it is down). Draw a selection rectangle around any portion of the object(s) you wish to delete.
  5. Click on the Save button to save the milling file in either G-Code format or Gerber format. In the dialog box you may specify the transformation from panel coordinates to machine coordinates, and other relevant parameters for generating the output file.

If tabs are placed at the corners of a rectangular board, they may be removed by drilling rather than by milling. The main advantage to drilled corner tab removal is improved stability during tab removal, since there is no horizontal pressure on the boards as they are loosened from the panel. Drilling also removes a tiny (<0.2mm) bit of the corner, which improves handling by removing sharp corners from the boards.

* For purposes of depanelization, a tab is measured from the endpoint of one slot to the endpoint of the neighboring slot. The endpoint is at the center of the cutting tool, which is a cutting tool radius from the edge of the slot. Therefore, the tab width is the minimum width of the tab plus the diameter of the cutting tool.

Designing a depanelization fixture

A depanelization fixture holds the panel and boards securely in place during the milling process. In addition to the fixture walls (which are automatically calculated), support pedestals and suction cups need to be placed at appropriate locations for each board in the panel.

  • Suction cups: There should be at least two suction cups for each board. These must be located at points where there the suction cup will have complete contact with the lower side of the board. (No components or component pins.)
  • Hole support pedestals: These may be placed at any through-hole with a diamter of at least 2.0 mm. There must be at least 1.5 mm clearance around the hole for the shoulder of the pedestal.*
  • Slot support pedestals: These may be placed at any slot (though we recommend a slot width of at least 2.0 mm). There must be at least 1.5 mm clearance on each side of the slot for the shoulder of the pedestal.* Note: If a slot support pedestal is placed on a curved slot or on a slot that is not long enough then a hole support pedestal will be placed instead.

Each board should have enough support pedestals to remain stable, both vertically and horizontally, throughout the milling process.

If the panel is a regular array of a single product which has been created by the Macaos Panel Module, then the lower left board in the panel will be highlighted with a yellow rectangle when placing suction cups or hole support pedestals. A suction cup or pedestal placed within this board will automatically be duplicated to all of the other boards.

Select the placement of the dust removal nozzle (for connection to a vacuum cleaner) and the vacuum hose nozzle (for connection to a vacuum pump).

You should also specify the maximum height of components mounted on the underside of the boards, the inner diameter of the vacuum hose you will use, and the outer diameter of the dust removal nozzle (inner diameter of your vacuum cleaner attachment nozzle).

The fixture will be manufactured in white photopolymer plastic. If desired, you may specify that the fixture be nickel plated (for ESD protection).

Use the Publish button to upload the fixture to the Macaos Repository. Initially, the fixture may only be viewed as a 2D schematic drawing. Once an order has been placed for the fixture, a Macaos engineer will generate a 3D model of the fixture, which may then be viewed in the product browser.

Note: Around the foot of a pedestal there should be an additional 2 mm clearance for components with a component height within 5 mm of the specified maximum component height.