Make A Better, Spring-Loaded SMT Tape Strip Holder

Every so often, a project is worth some extra work to see if the idea can go any further. [JohnSL] has been busy doing exactly that with his spring-loaded SMT tape holder project. Having done the original with 3D printing, he has been working on designing for injection molding. This isn’t a motorized feeder, it’s still a manual tool but it is an improvement over the usual workshop expedient method of just sticking segments of tape down to the desktop. Tape is fed into the holders from one end and spring tension holds the tape firm while a small slot allows the cover tape to be guided backward after peeling. As anyone who has used cut segments of tape to manually deal with SMT parts knows, small vibrations — like those that come from peeling off the clear cover — can cause the smaller components to jump around and out of their pockets, and any length of peeled cover gets awkward quickly.

The design allows for multiple holders to mount side-by-side.

In [JohnSL]’s design, all SMT tapes sit at an even height regardless of size or tape thickness. A central support pushes up from the bottom with tension coming from a spring pulling sideways; the central support is forced upward by cams and presses against the bottom surface of the tape. As a result, the SMT tape gets supported from below with even tension and the whole assembly maintains a narrow profile suitable for stacking multiple holders side by side. The CAD files are available online along with a McMaster-Carr part number for the specific spring he used.

After working out the kinks on 3D printed prototypes, [JohnSL] decided to see if it would be feasible to design an injection molded version and made a video outlining the process, embedded below.

This project touches on many different areas and if you wanted to know more about SMT parts on reels and how they’re used, or how injection molding works we have you covered. We also have a guide on designing parts for 3D printing while leaving the door open for injection molding that might come in handy for a project of your own someday.

5 thoughts on “Make A Better, Spring-Loaded SMT Tape Strip Holder

    1. A good visual would be great but there isn’t one of the actual part, sadly.

      Hopefully that changes, but for anyone who doesn’t quite “get” it, the way it works is that the inside section (which sticks out to the side, as seen in the image for the headline of this post) can be pushed in, like a plunger. It doesn’t go straight in, though. It goes in and down on a slope. This opens up the top so that tape can be slid in easily. Once the inner piece is released, it pops back out and its top pushes up to meet the rails, pinching the tape in place.

    1. Not yet so far as I can tell, but one of the reasons for [JohnSL] going down the injection mold rabbit hole is to maybe turn it into a product, I think.

      I haven’t seen anything else on the market that’s similar. Anyone else?

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