Pick a path

I’m dating myself a little here, but do you remember those pick-a-path books from years ago?  Basically, you get to the end of a chapter and you’re given a few choices.  Depending upon your choices you are sent to different areas of the book and can get drastically different endings.

Yeah, this post really isn’t about that.

Can a MakerBot or RepRap be converted to a Pick and Place CNC? 1  I suppose if you did you would:

  1. Need to install a camera
  2. Have to write a bunch of nifty software
  3. Have something that can feed the MakerBot2 the electronic parts
  4. A solder dispenser
  5. Have a little arm that picks up the electronic parts, rotates them3 as required, and deposits the electronic parts
  6. Can the HBP get hot enough to reflow?  I suspect not – otherwise it would fry it’s own electronic bits.

This doesn’t seem far fetched to me.  Let me rephrase.  It doesn’t seem far fetched to me that someone with programming and electronics skills could develop attachments for the MakerBot or RepRap that would work as a Pick and Place.

Update: I hit publish and then remembered a moment later I wanted to attribute VoxelFab with reminding me about Pick and Place machines with his recent post.  Thanks man and congrats on the new blog.

  1. Showing my ignorance:  Are pick and places CNC’s?  They certainly seem like they would be computer numerically controlled… []
  2. or RepRap []
  3. or the board []

4 Responses to “Pick a path”

  1. Mitch says:

    I’ve had this same idea about converting the makerbot into a pick and place. It seems like the makerbot had the resolution to do it and the extruder controller has enough brain power to control a rotating picking arm. The problem is figuring out where to have the part holder/ solder paste. It would be even cooler if it could all be done with a removable head like the plastruder and even get a dremel and etch the board on the same machine

  2. Jeremydeath says:

    The HBP that I am currently working on has the ability to get hot enough to do solder re-flow. It’s ~130 watts of power concentrated on the little 4″x4″ plate. The controller for it is here:

    It’s based off of a 4″ circular heating pad from Omega.

  3. MakerBlock says:

    @Jeremydeath: Nice! What do you use to actually create the heat? A long trace or resistors? (From your reference to the 4″ circular pad, I’m guessing the long trace.) Is it possible that the plate can desolder itself?

  4. MakerBlock says:

    @Mitch: I’m don’t see why this can’t be done with a swapable head and new “extruder” board. It would seem to simplify matters that a pick and place CNC is really just a 2.5D CNC machine, right? It only has to raise the picker/solder depositer a millimeter or so before moving on. A pick and place CNC head for the MakerBot would be a truly incredible development. Having a MakerBot that can mostly fabricate it’s own or prototype boards would be awesome.
    However, I think a big problem would definitely be the device that holds all those tiny parts.