Tools of the Trade – Component Placing

Recently we started a series on the components used to assemble a circuit board. The first issue was on dispensing solder paste. Moving down the assembly line, with the paste already on the board, the next step is getting the components onto the PCB. We’re just going to address SMT components in this issue, because the through hole assembly doesn’t take place until after the SMT components have gone through the process to affix them to the board.

Reels!
Reels!

SMT components will come in reels. These reels are paper or plastic with a clear plastic strip on top, and a reel typically has a few thousand components on it. Economies of scale really kick in with reels, especially passives. If you order SMT resistors in quantities of 1-10, they’re usually $.10 each. If you order a reel of 5000, it’s usually about $5 for the reel. It is cheaper to purchase a reel of 10 kOhm 0603 resistors and never have to order them again in your life than it is to order a few at a time. Plus the reel can be used on many pick-and-place machines, but the cut tape is often too short to use in automated processes.

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OpenPnP working to create an affordable and completely open Pick and Place machine

open-pick-and-place

If you happen to do a lot of SMD work, a pick and place machine is an incredible time saver. The problem is that most automated pick and place solutions are well outside of the “small outfit” price range, let alone the budget of a hobbyist.

We have seen some great DIY pick and place implementations around here, though most are lacking professional features or the sort of documentation that would make it easy for others to replicate. The OpenPnP project is looking change things, with a completely open source hardware and software solution with a price target of under $1,000.

Things are already well under way, with plenty of details available in the project’s wiki. According to the development page, a prototype should go into construction in the near future, and development of the pick and place’s control software is coming along nicely.

While things are looking great for the OpenPnP project, they can always use some help to keep things moving. Be sure to check out the project page if you are interested in lending a hand.

To see some of the progress being made, stick around to see a short demo video of the control software and camera in action.

[via Make]

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