Automatic Component Tape Cutter For When Your Electronics Kit Hits The Big Time

Even for the simplest of products, production at scale can be big challenge. For example, you might find yourself spending many hours manually counting and cutting strips of component tape to go with the DIY electronics kit your selling on Tindie. [Tom Keddie] found himself in similar position some time ago, and built himself an automated component counter and tape cutter.

[Tom] posted the video of his old machine (see it after the break) after a call for help from another Twitter user who found himself with a lot of component strips to cut. The frame of the machine is made from 20×20 aluminium extrusions and laser cut plexiglass. The tape is pulled off the reel by a stepper motor using a 3D printed sprocket, with the tape held on by Lego wheel and tension spring. A second idler sprocket with tensioner is used to guide the tape through two photo-interrupters that can count holes in opaque tape or the components in clear tape. The cutter itself it an Exacto blade mounted on a wooden block in a guillotine-like arrangement, driven by another stepper motor and a threaded rod as lead screw. Everything is of course controlled by an Arduino. Although not used any more, [Tom] says it worked very well in its day.

The availability of cheap laser cutting, 3D printing and components like aluminium extrusions and stepper motors have really made it possible for anyone to add some automation to production in the home workshop. You won’t be surprised that we’ve seen something like this before, but we’ve also seen similar machines for wiring prep and through-hole resistors. Let us hear your production hacks in the comments, or drop us a tip if you’ve documented it!

4 thoughts on “Automatic Component Tape Cutter For When Your Electronics Kit Hits The Big Time

  1. We do it the ‘old school’ way, with a tape measure a work bench and a pencil. And here’s how it works.

    It does not take long to figure out that pocket spacing on taped parts. You’ll find the spacing or pitch will be 4, 8, 12 or 16 mm.

    Next you mark one vertical line on the left side of the bench and work a little math, for example a 100 count of 8mm pitch parts would be 800mm, or 31.5 inches. So, to count blocks of 100 8mm pitch parts you would mark a second line 31.5 to the right. For 12mm and 16mm pitch parts you would count in blocks of 50 and 25.

    The rest is easy. You rig up a spool holder on the right and stretch out the tape. So for 530 8mm pitch parts you’d stretch 5 passes across the two lines and then count the final 30.

  2. I made something similar for the Blinkenrocket kit assembly some years ago.
    It cuts tape and also uses markers to color encode the parts.

    Der Zerhacker was featured on hackaday before.
    But till today i was unable to cut the clear plastic package because i was relying on an optical sensor to detect the holes in the strip for perfect alignment.
    Now this featured machine uses 2 sensors.
    One for the holes, like i do and a second one for the actual pars on a transparent package.
    This is so obvious now that i saw it.. I will upgrade den Zerhacker with a second optitcal detector in the next days.

    Thank you hackaday for posting similar projects.
    This is inspiring for a lot of people.

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