Does anyone has a good suggestion for a good manual pick and place machine or an automated one that can do placing without having to program the board for quick prototyping… Don’t mind if it can also do programmed runs… But for quick PCBs its more hassle to program it than to simply start placing.
EEVBlog had a few long-running threads I followed a while back on the NeoDen 4 PNP machines which were pretty good machines once you had them working well.
In the end, I felt that it was a better use of time and money to just have a Fab house like Macrofab.com to do the small run production boards made considering the time, learning curve, and money involved in getting a small low-cost PNP to work correctly. And then you need to properly reflow also without burning the plastic parts.
Those are good points. Particularly that last one, I modified my oven to get it to work … reasonably well … (some dramatic pauses inserted) but a part like the SK6812 (RGB LED) is a no go - hand soldering only.
Then again, if you’re running small runs that reoccur, setup, storage fees and all that can start to accumulate quite dramatically and a machine like the ones above are not a bad option. But you’ve got to watch them at all times and that gets old after a while too.
Might work as a good solution to make a manual machine…
I am looking at this machine
But the price seems high for a fully manual machine… I would love to have a hybrid… one that can be used for small production runs and that can be used manually… the Chinese machines don’t have info to say if doing some manual work is feasible or reasonable.
The concept of hybrid doesn’t really compute, either its a solid cartesian robot with drives, optics and control systems or its a lightweight pick head you move by hand, the two are not compatible.
If you design a PCB, you have the 1/2 the “programming” done already as the design will contain all the XY and rotation data the placement machine needs. The other half is supplying the machine with the sizes and shapes of all those different parts and where it would find them.
Both systems require you to setup/organise/load your parts before you start, only one of them makes mistakes. Manual machines are their most useful when the effort in loading feeders etc is too much for the PCB in question, that’s really only true for very small simple designs. Commercial manual pick and place systems are very expensive, most cost more than the little Chinese automated machines. The basic mechanics however are very simple and easily be knocked up using many of the parts for a 3d printer. Combined with some of the ideas here https://www.compuphase.com/visualplace/visualplace_en.htm you could come up with quite an effective manual solution.