DOD SBIR 24.1 BAA

Active
No
Status
Closed
Release Date
November 29th, 2023
Open Date
January 3rd, 2024
Due Date(s)
February 21st, 2024
Close Date
February 21st, 2024
Topic No.
AF241-D011

Topic

Robotic Electronic Component Replacement and Soldering in a Digital Depot Environment

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic of "Robotic Electronic Component Replacement and Soldering in a Digital Depot Environment" under the SBIR 24.1 BAA. The objective is to research, evaluate, and develop a robotic system that can automate the removal and replacement of through-hole and surface mount electronic components during the repair of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) in low-volume, high-mix environments. The current manual process for PCBAs rework in USAF depots can be improved in terms of safety, quality, agility, and throughput metrics through the use of automated systems. The proposed robotic system should be able to handle the flexibility required in manually operated PCBAs and comply with industry standards. The project will progress through Phase II, where a working prototype of the robotic system and associated software will be developed. The ultimate goal is to achieve a production-ready state for marketing to the Air Force, other federal agencies, and private industry. Relevant keywords include robotic soldering, robotic desoldering, printed circuit card, and electronics rework.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy

 

OBJECTIVE: Research, evaluate, and develop a robotic system to enable automated removal and replacement of through-hole and surface mount electronic components during repair of printed circuit board assemblies with high reliability in low-volume, high-mix environments.

 

DESCRIPTION: The need for computer controlled fully automated rework stations has increased recently due to increasing difficulties involved in manual rework of printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs).  Current USAF depot rework of printed circuit board assemblies is primarily a manual process for through-hole and surface mount components.  One exception is ball grid array parts which require machine aided mounting and inspection for high reliability assembly.  Recent developments in robotic control have allowed the number of industrial robotic systems, in sustainment and depot environments to grow significantly.  On average three electronic components are replaced per depot repair, with an average time of 15 minutes per component to perform a part replacement.  Automated systems would provide vast improvements in safety, quality, agility, and throughput metrics.  Ideally, these systems could be scaled across all depot electronics repair facilities. The main issue would be ensuring the system is robust enough to adapt to high-mix, low volume production.  As opposed to a factory environment, in the depot environment, repairs and rework happen across many unique circuit card assemblies with varying configurations.  There is a continuing need to have a robotic soldering solution with the flexibility of a human to solve the requirements for reducing direct labor costs.  The aim of this project is to design and build a proof-of-concept, low-cost prototype robot soldering solution to use as a base for further development, through which a production-worthy system would eventually be reached.  This system should be able to handle the flexibility required in the PCBAs that are manually operated on, both in terms of physical maneuverability and a large number of different products.  The system shall be constrained to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) soldering technology, lead-based and non-lead solder and comply with IPC J-STD-001F, MIL-STD-2000A, and ANSI/ESD STM13.1-2015.  While the final system will have more features in material handling and safety, the scope of this effort is limited around the part removal and replacement functionality. Apart from building the robot system, user-friendly software for teaching components must be developed.

 

PHASE I: As this is a Direct-to-Phase-II (D2P2) topic, no Phase I awards will be made as a result of this topic. To qualify for this D2P2 topic, the Government expects the Offeror to demonstrate feasibility by means of a prior “Phase I-type” effort that does not constitute work undertaken as part of a prior SBIR/STTR funding agreement. For this Direct-to-Phase II topic, the Government expects that the successful Offeror(s) demonstrate the ability to design and build a low-cost robot electronics component replacement solution and associated software to use as a base for further development.  Submitters shall demonstrate the accuracy and integration of this robotic system.

 

PHASE II: Develop working prototype robotic electronics component replacement solution and associated software to use as a base for further development, through which a production-worthy system would eventually be reached. The design should supply a machine solution capable of directly replacing a reasonable subset of conformal coating removal, desoldering, component removal, component replacement and resoldering in electronics rework.  Submitters shall maximize the efficiency of the robotic system by allowing the robot to operate in a real-world depot environment with minimal external safety systems.

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Refine hardware and software to increase accuracy and reliability.  Achieve production-ready state for marketing to the Air Force, other related federal agencies, and private industry.

 

REFERENCES:

Geren, Necdet & Lo, E.K.. (1997). Automated removal and replacement of through-hole components in robotic rework. Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology, Part C, IEEE Transactions on. 20. 236 - 248. 10.1109/3476.649447.
Staretu, I. (2021). Robotized application of assembly and soldering – case study. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering. 1009. 012056. 10.1088/1757-899X/1009/1/012056.
Pop, Emanuela, Emilia Campean, Ion Cristian Braga, and Darius Ispas. (2022). "New Product Development of a Robotic Soldering Cell Using Lean Manufacturing Methodology" Sustainability 14, no. 21: 14057. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142114057;

 

KEYWORDS: Robotic Soldering, Robotic Desoldering, Printed Circuit Card, Electronics Rework