THP Semifinalist: Retro Populator, A Pick And Place Retrofit For A 3D Printer

retro

A huge theme of The Hackaday Prize entries is making assembly of electronics projects easier. This has come in the form of soldering robots, and of course pick and place machines. One of the best we’ve seen is the Retro Populator, a project by [Eric], [Charles], [Adam], and [Rob], members of the Toronto Hacklab. It’s a machine that places electronic components on a PCB with the help of a 3D printer

The Retro Populator consists of two major parts: the toolhead consists of a needle and vacuum pump for picking up those tiny surface mount parts. This is attaches to a quick mount bolted right to the extruder of a 3D printer. The fixture board attaches to the bed of a 3D printer and includes tape rails, cam locks, and locking arms for holding parts and boards down firmly.

The current version of the Retro Populator, with its acrylic base and vacuum pen, is starting to work well. The future plans include tape feeders, a ‘position confirm’ ability, and eventually part rotation. It’s a very cool device, and the ability to produce a few dozen prototypes in an hour would be a boon for hackerspaces the world over.

You can check out a few videos of the Retro Populator below.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize. 

Comments

  1. David Cook says:

    When I consider the potential top 5 projects, this makes my list.
    • Supplementing an existing platform saves space in the workshop
    • Supplementing an existing platform also allows improvements to the existing platform to upgrade their project for ‘free’ (and vice versa), as long as they are careful about compatibility
    • Best of all, they have video of the project actually working

    Very nice!

  2. steve says:

    Yup…. it’s a start….. how many hours did it take to ‘set up’ for placing those two boards?

  3. ambercliman says:

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