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Robotic Arm for SMT soldering.

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Shined:
I was struck with an idea a couple of days ago after browsing a local auction website and discovering a robot arm, merely a toy for kids to play with but it got me thinking, I'm a big guy and have massive hands so find it difficult to solder small fiddly things and SMT is an almost impossible tech for me to work with because its so fiddly so my idea was to combine a robotic arm with a small camera, a soldering iron and some software made to recognise where the solder marks are on a circuit board and have the robot do the soldering work for me.

Do any of you think this is a viable idea or am I just completely nuts and should I learn some other way of getting around this SMT stuff.

Your opinions welcomed.

KTP:
You would have better luck with a cartesian style robot which used a vacuum device to pick up parts from some type of reel or tube and placed them on the board which had previously had a solder paste mixture deposited on each pad.  Hey, I should patent this!

scrat:

--- Quote from: KTP on January 21, 2011, 03:45:52 pm ---You would have better luck with a cartesian style robot which used a vacuum device to pick up parts from some type of reel or tube and placed them on the board which had previously had a solder paste mixture deposited on each pad.  Hey, I should patent this!

--- End quote ---

Hmmm... there is plenty of SMT board mounting machines for production, but I see a small machine hardly feasible for an hobbist.

Another idea could be making a helping "machine", I'll try to explain...
At work we had this http://www.lpkf.com/products/rapid-pcb-prototyping/smd-assembly/smt-assembly/pick-and-place.htm manual pick-and-place. It had two orthogonal slides, that helped a little moving the right way and were lockable by means of a button. Then you could rotate the component (picked up by vacuum), and place it finely by means of two "endless screws" (normal long screws used for that purpose). The camera with short focus (mounted on a movable arm) was a good thing.
The whole machine was indeed quite rudimentary, but could work. In the end, we never used it, first because it was intended for reflow paste soldering, second because it took too much to place a component, so for our needs it was overkill.

Using this kind of device (don't try to buy it, it costs toooo much!) for placing (maybe putting it on something like a light glue) before soldering wouldn't be a bad idea for very tiny packages.

CafeLogic:

--- Quote from: Shined on January 21, 2011, 03:29:43 pm ---I'm a big guy and have massive hands so find it difficult to solder small fiddly things and SMT is an almost impossible tech for me to work with because its so fiddly

--- End quote ---

Get a hot air rework station. You can get Chinese ones on eBay for $100. Tin the pads, then put flux down. You put the part in the vicinity of where it needs to go then tap it into place with tweezers or whatever. The closer you get, the lighter the taps. When it's on the pads blow hot air on it.

I don't care if you are 6'8", 400lbs, and doofy as hell, you can do SMT just fine.

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