Label Your SMD Tapes With An Inkjet Printer

If you’ve ever had to use SMD components on tape outside the realm of the automated assembly machines for which they were designed, you’ll know that one tape looks very like another and it can be very annoying to keep track of which is which. We can’t help admiring [Yvo de Haas’] inkjet printer for SMD tapes then, which efficiently prints whatever identifying marks you need on the back of your tapes.

The printer uses the venerable HP45 inkjet cartridge, and teams it with a 3D printed mechanism and [Yvo]’s self-designed driver board. A worm gear motor and a sprocket take care of advancing the tape through the mechanism past the printhead, and there is a well-assembled piece of software to drive it all. With extremely comprehensive build instructions it should be within the reach of anyone who handles component tape, and from our experience of hand-labeling tape for kits we can see that it could be a Godsend. Take a look at it in action in the video below.

So far the tape-handling machinery we’ve seen has mostly been for cutting sections rather than labeling. We can see that this printer paired with a tape cutter should be essential equipment for anyone starting a kit business.

15 thoughts on “Label Your SMD Tapes With An Inkjet Printer

    1. Might be worth trying this, just be careful for a few minutes whilst it dries. Try a small bit, obviously!

      Even glossy photo paper is fairly plasticky & non-absorbent, but many higher-end inkjets will print to plastic film e.g. for waterproof posters.

      If it doesn’t work you might need a different ink.

    2. Scavenge a thermal ink jet cart or 10, those work pretty well for anything without a glossy surface finish. Thermal transfer or hotstamp printers for everything else.
      You can probably get an ancient Allen Hotfoil hotstamper for very little, and old Markem-Imaje thrm-xfer stuff isn’t usually too much more $.

      Get ‘garbage’ TIJ carts for free if you make friends with a mechanic in manufacturing. My somewhat small workplace blasts through ~50/month, half of which would still be usable for a hobbyist. Just not usable for us at that point.

    1. I’d imagine that the big stores like Digikey, Mouser, TME, Farnell, etc have something like this on each roll of their parts. And when they need a piece of cut tape such a machine counts the number of required parts, prints the text and also cuts the tape to the right length, and then the cut piece falls into a bag or a box on a conveyor belt.

      Next step up would be to also add a scanner to read back the printed text and ring some alarm if the printing does not work, the reel of tape is nearly finished or the system is jammed in some other way.

  1. It’s so weird hearing the 45 as venerable. I remember when the photo versions of that series were the latest thing with the ability to swap the photo color inks with a grey series.

  2. HP45… Shivers. My first bit of noteworthy tech kit back in ’74 when HP was a company spoken of in hushed and reverent tones. Back when it was the world leading test equipment company driven by the Bill & Dave Show. It will forever be a tragedy to look back on what became of this incredible company as it descended leaderless into the sewer of consumer electronics.

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