LIB3 is an open source hardware start-up from upstate New York. Thus far, the team has made some interesting products such as the piLED kit. However, they have big dreams for the future. LIB3 plans to become a contract assembly house specifically targeting low volume makers. To do this they have to build their own tools. LIB3’s latest project is a solder paste dispenser for surface mount components. Traditionally solder paste is applied with stencils made of stainless steel. In more recent years laser cut kapton has become a favorite for low volume production.
Both of these systems require a stencil to be made up. LIB3 took a different approach, and modified an old CNC glue dispenser for paste. The team got their hands on an 1991 vintage X/Y glue dispensing system. X/Y systems in this era were big, heavy affairs with powerful motors. LIB3 removed all the control electronics and built their own system from scratch. New features include direct computer control, and a vision system.
For their Maker Faire demo LIB3 replaced the paste with a standard felt tipped pen. Any mouse motion on the attached PC was directly translated into pen motion. The modified machine is extremely accurate – 0603 resistor pads will be no problem. The machine is also incredibly fast. A quick jiggle of the mouse translated into the machine moving its 100 pound head around in a rather frightening manner. Even so, the motors didn’t lose any steps. The machine came right back its home position, ready for the next challenge.