Pace soldering/rework station
Does anyone here have any experience with Pace soldering stations? We are looking for a soldering/rework station for work (their $1400 one) and are looking for people with experience with it or the brand. Thanks!
I find their parts are overpriced and its cheaper to buy just a new machine, quality and performance is similar to Hakkos.
I have used a PACE full house SMT rework station. Suck, blow, current tweezers, drilling, grinding, hot tweezers, various dies with vacuum pick and place.
Was nice but I didn't have to pay for it. (Ex demo $3000 australian from memory)
Build quality felt resonable, nice lightweight but strong handpieces.
No idea about consumables pricing, was a long lead time for some bits in Australia. Tips were expensive from memory.
Hakko gear I find their ceramic heaters a little fragile, Great if you are careful with it, but they usually die if they are dropped onto the floor. Tips dont seem to last as long as the others.
I've also used cruddy old weller gear, suck/blow hot tips don't last long, poor build quality compared to the others, they block up a lot, But you can always get parts and consumables and you know they will still be around in 10 years when you need a new flux capacitor. :)
I'd go for something well known that you can easily get consumables for in your area. The best iron in the world is useless when you're waiting 2 months for a new heater/pump/handpiece
Whatever you get: budget to buy a few spares and consumables too.
edit: My pick is to get lesser quality with cheaper and more readily available parts. How good are your workers with equipment? We had the Pace in an avionics shop, very gentle users so it went well. If you've got a bunch of rough handed workers (has any of them stripped out a screw head? crossthreaded a screw?) go with something cheaper like the weller.
It's been a while since I've posted here, but I think I can help you out a little with this...
I've had access to two Pace stations over the years. The first was a very old station at my father's workplace. It had basic solder/desolder capabilities, plus some SMT attachments and air-operated tools. I can vouch that this was perhaps one of the best stations I have ever used. The thing was build like a tank (and I know that it did take some abuse from some workers there). However, whenever I used it (even as a novice at the time) I had no troubles, and it performed excellently (never lifted a trace, etc, etc). Granted this was before ergonomic-anything, so the all-metal tools with no grip did cause a few blisters :) I think the best thing I can say is that as far as I know, the station is still there, working away.
I also currently own a pace station, MBT350 (one of their newer ones). Overall, I am pleased, but I think I should relate the story about it. First, the general stuff:
* They've moved from all metal tools to plastic tools. Personally, I do not like this, as I feel that cracks and wearing may be inevitable now (especially from the heating element making the plastic brittle). Also, the desoldering tool still raises blisters :)
* The desoldering tool is mainly designed to use those disposable cardboard cartridges for collecting solder. It does come with a traditional glass cylinder, too. Again, I prefer the older glass style (despite the cleaning), since the cardboard ones tend to clog quickly and slowly reduce the suction power available.
* Fully temperature controlled with a nice display and good controls. Many features on the controller that I do not use. Also, the controller is an all-metal case with modular tool stands. The station can also solder the higher-temp lead-free stuff, which I haven't bothered with yet.
* SMT is still mostly untested (I haven't had the opportunity), so I can't say much.
* Tip prices are actually quite reasonable - IIRC my last tip (soldering iron) was only around $10 CAD. YMMV though.
I do have to relate a small story from when I bought the thing though. I originally ordered from a place called RAE in Nova Scotia (being the nearest official Pace dealer). I originally ordered one soldering iron, one desoldering, and a SMT tool. However, I somehow wound up with two desoldering irons and no soldering iron (RAE's mistake, not pace). Anyway, we arranged a swap easily enough (no cost), and I recieved an iron with a black plug. However, I noticed that all plugs on the front are in blue. A close check of the manual, online forums, etc. didn't turn up much, and the plug still fitted fine, so away I went. A quick press of the desoldering button, and the station dies. Now it starts the pump as soon as it turns on, and does nothing else. Contact RAE - never heard of the problem. Internet - I find a single clue: one obscure store sells an adapter that converts 'old' style tools to the new system. Do I have the old style? Sure enough, yes. Back to RAE - they had no idea that there even were two versions, Pace had told them nothing. As this was one of the first stations of this model they sold, they did not know what to do, but were very helpful. Eventually, it was sent back to the company [as part of a quite large recall, I later found out - it may even be possible I started it :) ] I now have an entirely new station (diff. serial #), and RAE threw in some extra tips for my trouble. I looked at the service schematic after, btw, and found the culprit - pressing the desolder button with an old-style iron plugged in connects the heater voltage (40+ VAC) into a pin on the uController -> instant destruction). I'm just very surprised they would design it so the plugs still fit so easily [no forcing was involved, honest :) ]
Anyway, sorry for the rant, I just hope it helps you a little (or confuses more, maybe... ) My final word is that I still like the Pace stations. They still work excellently for the what I do. However, I think the newer models do suffer from lower durability than the older ones. Good luck deciding!
I used the full soldering/rework station (PRC2000) when I worked in the industry, it was the best thing ever. It stood up to nearly 24/7 use along with some abuse, and I found that as long as the tips weren't nicked or scratched they'd last pretty much forever. At that time the tips cost something like $50-$100 so they'd better last a long time.
I have no idea how their lower models are like, but if it's anything like the flagship I'd highly recommend them.
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