DIY low budget manual pick & place

Vpapanik shared a tutorial on how to make your own SMD pick and place machine:

If you are dealing with tiny SMD parts (e.g. 0402 resistors and capacitors), a manual pick and place machine is a helpful piece of equipment for prototyping and small-batch manufacturing. On the other side, traditional SMD placement using precision tweezers not only requires an ultra-steady hand but also becomes a tiresome drill, especially when working long hours upon fine-pitch PCB footprints.

However, commercial manual pick & place machines are ridiculously expensive ! You have to spend thousands on e.g. this magnificent piece, or even over one thousand for bottom line ones like this.

You would think : Hey, one thousand for a couple of X-Y sliding metal bars ? That was my idea, when started to design my own : total cost ? well under € 100 !

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  1. From a quick and short read, I don’t see any mention of motors, drivers, software, or anything of the sort. Did this guy just make the X and Y axis and plans to move it manually with his hands? If so, I do not get the benefit of this over just using your hands, some tweezers, and a good bit of light.

    Nonetheless, it seems like this is an awesome starting step for some low accuracy and cheap X and Y axis machine!

    Also, the guy should have linked to this godly pick and place as one of the expensive machines.
    If I had a cool million or more, I would buy this and just set it in the corner somewhere as a trophy and have it add sprinkles to my ice cream sprinkle by sprinkle. :D

  2. interesting build but adding a camera and motors (or at least some dials) would be a huge improvement. machine is from what I can see lacking rotation, you can’t rotate the component in place, that is a serious problem (or being 100% manual you can rotate the syringe holder ?!)

    1. From a closer read of the article, component rotation is taken care of by rotating the syringe (which is held in place by bearings). This was also my first concern. Here’s a close-up:

      A decent low latency camera would definitely be a near necessity (IMHO) for anything smaller than say 0805.

      I’m not sure what good motors (or dials) would do. The drawer sliders used are horribly inaccurate if they’re not super-preloaded (which isn’t a problem with a person on the other end). In order to even use motors (or dials) you’d want 1. a mechanism for driving the axes (which is probably better addressed with a different design all-together) and 2. nice accurate movement (which drawer sliders don’t excel at). Were you thinking of some kind of semi-automated approach?

      That being said, I think this really hits the mark for a dirt cheap tool for PnP, which can be easily modified for whatever’s on-hand. This gives me an idea that maybe the home-brew PnP are taking the wrong approach. Instead of focusing on super-accurate CNC type machines, maybe the focus should be on “smarter” machines that make much heavier use of computer vision to close the loop (like a human does).

      1. Out of curiosity – what is the max latency you would consider usable? And resolution? Would a 800×600 suffice?

        I tried using some pcb inspection camera/scopes with a lcd scrren in the Shenzhen SEG market and I had a really hard time locating a particular part on my pcb when the magnification was set too high. Being able to zoom, or at least flip between low/high magnification would help a lot.

      2. I have hooked up a cheap USB microscope (well, a CMOS camera) with led lighting. Bought it for $25 and it is awesome ! Will post a video soon…

  3. Again…….
    Someone builds something that you can get for several tens of USD$ from China…..

    What it really needs is for someone to take one of these Chinese hand operated base machines and add some stepper motors.

    1. “Someone builds something that you can get for several tens of USD$ from China”

      Errr, yeah, right. There are no manual pick and place machines which you can buy for “several tens of dollars”. Several hundreds of dollars maybe. A quick look on ebay (if it’s from china, it’s on ebay) shows really the only one similar to what Vassilis has built is $1350 USD.

    1. You don’t – unless you want to pay for the high priced models. You go to the link up the top of the page, read how it is made and make your own.

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