Soldering pin headers by hand is a tedious task, especially when your project has a huge number of them. [iforce2d] has a large number of boards with a lot of headers, and has created a rather special CNC machine to to do the job. It’s a soldering robot, controlled by LinuxCNC and you can see it below the break.
Superficially it resembles a 3D printer made in aluminium, with an X-Y movable table and a Z-direction represented by a soldering iron and solder feeder on an arm. The solder feeder uses a Bowden tube, with a 3D-printer extruder motor pushing the solder wire down a PTFE tube and finally into a fine aluminium tube from which it’s fed to the iron tip.
Though he’s done a beautiful job of it, creating the machine is not all that’s required, because the tool path requires more attention than simply moving the iron to each pin and supplying some solder. There’s a need to consider the effect of that heat, how much each pad needs, and how much neighbouring pads contribute.
We’ve had repetitive soldering tasks just like this one though not on this scale, so we can understand the tedium this machine will relieve. We can’t however help being reminded of XKCD 1319.