A collaboration between Elasta and TEN was presented at Biënnale Interieur 2016, during the 5X5 design trajectory of Designregio Kortrijk. That collaboration resulted in an elastic strip with conductive yarn. LEDs were hand-soldered onto that band in a unique and innovative way. With the prospect of one day turning the elastic strip into a commercial product, a follow-up development project was launched for the prototype of a cutting and soldering machine that would automate the manual work.
Making an in-depth analysis and mapping out the manual and complex operations required to successfully solder an LED onto an elastic strip, made it possible to translate all the steps into an automated version.
This phase yielded a dual machine concept, with the two units making up the assembly line together.
The two concept machines were translated into two prototypes with loads of challenges tackled in the process. The cutting station, used to interrupt the conductive yarn, developed into a compact module that employs innovative techniques to cut the loops and mark these positions. The lightplacer station recognizes these marked positions fully automatically, applies solder paste, picks up the LEDs, moves them to the correct position on the elastic strip and solders the LEDs onto the conductive yarn.
Both machines are controlled by proprietary software. Programming different configurations is a piece of cake.
The prototype machines were fully finished to be deployed for small batch productions. They have been developed in accordance with the Machinery Directive and come with complete CE files and marking.