DDM Novastar Helps Grow Electronics Hobby Into a Business
Gene Malkoff was intrigued by the potential of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), back before they became a ubiquitous standard in the flashlight industry. He began making his own retrofit inserts for Maglite, Surefire, and other similar professional and tactical grade flashlights, to convert them from inefficient and fragile incandescent bulbs to efficient and durable LEDs.
Initially, his assembly line consisted of a RadioShack soldering iron on his kitchen table. Eventually, what began as a hobby started generating a reasonable income. Now Malkoff Devices owns their own eleven thousand square foot facility.
Gene knew there must be a way to streamline his assembly techniques, but he kept running into economy-of-scale obstacles. He tried outsourcing some small PCBs, but they did not collaborate on prototyping the way he liked or meet a sustainable price point for his relatively small runs.
He searched the internet for circuit board assembly equipment and found DDM Novastar located in Ivyland PA, and was pleased to see there was a real PCB assembly manufacturer in the United States.
After years of placement using tweezers and jeweler’s glasses he was impressed by their camera viewable thousandth-of-an-inch placement precision. He was looking for quality over quantity, and he wanted responsive service and support without long time-zone and shipping lags.
Even for DDMs lineup of PCB assembly machines, the equipment he purchased is fairly low capacity, but his circuit boards are typically under one square inch anyway, so even small machines could process a lot of them at once. He ended up buying a Stencil Printer, a Pick and Place with feeder accessories, and a Reflow oven.
- Stencil Printer SPR-25
- The SPR-25 Manual Stencil Printer provides fine X, Y, Z, and theta adjustments for exact stencil-to-board alignment resulting in precise, fine pitch printing of solder paste for prototype stencil printing and other lower volume applications.
- NovaPlace™ Pick and Place Machine L-NP64
- 3 L-BF-12 12-part bank feeders on 8mm tapes
- 8 L-T12 individual feeders on 12mm tapes
- A vibratory feeder
- The NEW NovaPlaceTM Series is a complete, low-cost turnkey automatic pick and place system that can be put in production right out of the box. Once a specific PCB is programmed, the machine automatically picks up each component from its designated feeder or tray, centers the part and moves to the placement location, and accurately places the part. The feeders automatically position the next component for pick-up.
- Reflow Oven GF-12HC
- Reflow oven utilizing our 100% patented forced air Horizontal Convection™ Heating technology provides for greater thermal uniformity and process control.
He says that the reflow oven, when connected to his shop fume vac system, has no smell. He also likes the fact that it, and the other equipment, are quiet too.
Beyond just himself, Gene wanted training for his whole team, so DDM came to them. They sent someone down for a week of training and startup assistance. The in-house training meant they could use Malkoff’s own circuit boards and instantly validate the trial pieces with their own diagnostic equipment.
The availability of tech support was another advantage of going with DDM. Gene likes that anyone on his team can call DDM Novastar and speak with a real person who can talk them through whatever issues might arise.
Gene says that the biggest benefit that DDM gave him was time. Time to run the business, time with family, and time to tinker with new ideas.
“DDM sells on their quality and standing by their word, just like my company.”
Visit MalkoffDevices.com to learn more about Gene’s business or shop for top-of-the-line LED flashlights.