3D-Printed Magazines Tame The SMD Tape Beast

Chances are pretty good that you’ve got a box or a bin somewhere in your shop with coils of SMD component tapes in it. If you’re lucky, the coils are somewhat contained in their conductive Mylar bags; if you’re more like us, the tapes are flopping around loose in an attempt to seemingly tie themselves together. In either case, these 3D-printed SMD magazines will bring a little order to the chaos, and make board assembly a little bit easier.

When we saw [Robin Reiter]’s build, we thought these would be cassettes for some sort of pick-and-place machine. But while they certainly look like they could be adapted to an automated PnP setup, [Robin]’s main goal was to provide organized storage for loose tapes. Each magazine has a circular reservoir to hold the coiled tape, with an exit slot at the front and a wedge that directs the cover tape in the opposite direction. This removes the cover tape to expose the components, clears it away from the pickup area, and as a bonus, allows the component tape to be advanced just by pulling back on the cover. Each magazine has a spring-loaded latch that clips onto a base that looks a bit like a DIN-rail; the weighted base holds several magazines and makes it easy to set up a manual pick-and-place session. The video below shows all the details.

For certain personality types, this really scratches an itch. We love the modular design, and the organization that these would bring to our shop would really help clean things up a bit. And if [Robin] were ever to take this design to the next level, adding something like this could be useful.

20 thoughts on “3D-Printed Magazines Tame The SMD Tape Beast

  1. I guess this might be useful for small scale production given how easy it is to rearrange the containers.

    Personally, I only do one off prototypes and prefer SMD sample books. They are much more compact and still easy to browse. 12 rows per page, 20 pages per book, 2 books fit most of the passives I stock. For ESD sensitive, large dimension stuff or THT tubes I have larger envelopes made from metalized plastic. The whole setup takes as much space as 2 A4 binders.

    For larger jobs I pull the tapes out and stick them to a dummy board. Here’s some inspiration from Mike Harrison:

    1. The sample books are great…for the odd values you only need now and again. The problem tapes are the common and semi-common parts that you can’t quite justify buying an entire roll of, but quickly run out of in the sample books. I’ve got like a dozen partial rolls (1k-3k units) that I’ve been too lazy to do anything with other than leave them in their bags. Might be time to fire up the printers for a day…

      1. I’d be very interested in how you managed to clamp these to the DIN rail. Using such a rail was my initial thought. Made a few experiments but did not find a reliable and durable way to 3D print some kind of clamping mechanism for DIN rails.

    1. I’m very interested, could you share it?
      I think the oultet slot could further be improved. The pocket thickness of IC tapes can be different, so maybe make the outlet flexible with springy connections to the housing.

  2. These are lovely, and just crying for a little sprocket gear and an opto to advance one part every time they get a signal. Jon Raymond, if you upload your DIN mount to thingiverse, I’d love to try adding an advance mechanism to it.

    1. Perhaps a simple mechanical lever to advance the part instead…

      That way you, (or your 3D printer converted to a pick an place machine), can just press the lever with an end effector.

      No extra electronics needed.

  3. This is really neat. While there are similar designs around, I like the fact that leading edge of the tape with any exposed components can be pushed back to prevent them from falling out during storage. Are CAD files available ?

  4. Test printed one on a Maker Rep2. It works ok for larger components, however it’s not very practical for 0402 strips. The feed gap has to be very small to prevent the components from popping out of the part of the tape with the leader removed before it gets exposed beyond the slot. I’m not sure the tolerances of my printer will allow for a tight enough gap.

    I do a lot of SMT work and generally found the small SMD parts boxes with a hundred or so small compartments best for RLCs. My biggest parts headache is with silicon parts on reels. I suppose this would work ok for that too. But I need to test more.

    1. When you get down to 0402 and 0201s many of the SMT manufacturers do to lengths to keep part bouncing and flipping. Juki uses a special mechanical feeder just for 0402 and below which has exacting tolerances and multiple plates over the tape and the cover peelback.

    2. Every design has its limitations. I did not go smaller than 0603 in my tests.

      That the tape gets peeled off before exposing the strip is indeed a problem with such small parts.
      What you can do is simply not use the upper slot for guiding the plastic covering outwards but push the entire strip with cover all the way through. Then you can peel it off at the outer edge and no parts come loose in the gap.

      I hope you get what I mean.

  5. Great design! I am going to print a few of them this weekend at least for the very most frequent parts (100n, 1k, 4k7 etc).

    This thing is asking for an injection mold. Printing takes forever, but a mold could be very simple. The new version with the compliant mechanism doesn’t feature any undercuts anymore – perfect for manufacture. If there would be a company in china that would be willing to produce them and sell them on aliexpress…

      1. It’s a nice design. With some simplification of edges, the mold could easily be milled on a 2 axis (+minor z) mill. Heck even FP Express could cut the inverted blank from two plates with some registration pins.

        Thanks for sharing the design in the first place!

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