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$300 Pick and Place / 3D printer

An affordable electronics manufacturing system for hobbyists, students, & small businesses. Inspired by RepRap. Powered by OpenPnP/FirePick.

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This project was created on 04/29/2014 and last updated a month ago.

Description
FirePick Delta is an open-source electronics manufacturing system, inspired by RepRap and powered by OpenPnP and FirePick's own Computer Vision software. We are taking the beginning steps towards a smart appliance that can manufacture electronic circuit boards in a home or office environment. Our machine is able to assemble open-source hardware boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi accessories, and also has the capability to 3D print. It features an auto-tool changer that allows multiple plastic extruders, and/or multiple SMT vacuum nozzles. Other tools and applications will be available as our product matures.

We will be launching a Kickstarter campaign once we have a working prototype.
Details

Introduction

FirePick Delta is an affordable, open-source electronics manufacturing system that sits on your desktop. It's capable of building complex electronic circuit assemblies, like Arduino and Raspberry Pi accessories. It is also able to 3D print plastic parts, just like a standard 3D printer. It assembles circuit boards just like a conventional pick-and-place machine, by using a vacuum nozzle and camera with computer vision to pick up surface-mount parts from component feeders, and precisely place them down on the circuit board. Our machine has an auto-tool changer, and we're working on designing other tools besides the SMT vacuum tip and the 3D print hotend. The system is capable of holding up to four tools and interchanging between them automatically. This also makes it one of the most versatile 3D printers out there, because it can print in four colors of plastic (or in four separate types of plastic, which would allow a single model to have a mixture of PLA, ABS, nylon, and NinjaFlex, for example). 

Pick and place machines are used around the world to assemble electronic circuit assemblies, however they usually sell for $50,000 to $500,000. Our machine has a price point of $300 to $5000, depending on modules installed. We should be able to hit that price point by leveraging the open-source technology of the RepRap 3D printer movement. The FirePick Delta is designed to almost completely self-replicate. It is capable of 3d printing its own parts out of PLA or ESD-sensitive ABS plastic. It will also be capable of assembling its own electronic circuit boards. We plan to be the first successful, commercially available RepRap 3d printer to have the power of electronics self-replication. We envision a future where anyone can design (or download existing) electronic projects, and manufacture them in their own home, rather than outsourcing to a traditional factory. This approach saves time and money, and is a much more sustainable solution. FirePick Delta will enable a new wave of small businesses and entrepreneurs to provide unique, bespoke, niche items to the general public, that would be unprofitable for a large conglomerate corporation to manufacture. If you've ever had an electronic project that involved soldering surface-mount electronics, this machine is an incredibly cheap and fun way to do it. If you've ever wanted to sell an electronic board that you've created, and need a way to make lots of them, this machine is for you.

Important Documents and Links

Bill of Materials

Note: Our BOM will eventually be in our custom FireBOM system, but we’re still in the process of getting that populated (Note: the official hackaday.io “Components” page links there). We have written some clever python scripts to get this data transferred over to the new system, but in the meantime, it’s spread across a few sources:

Project Logs and Other Hackaday.io Pages:

Videos

NOTE: The Hackaday.io CMS is kind of wonky at the moment), use the links below if the Youtube previews aren't showing up...

HaD Video #1 (Quarterfinals, July 20, 2014):

HaD Video #2 (Semifinals, September 28, 2014):

Youtube Playlist for other FirePick Delta related videos :-)

Features / Specs

Intended Usage:

  • Prototyping and small runs of PCB’s (under 100 per run). Not intended to be used for mass production.
  • Hobbyists, Makerspaces, high school and college students, entrepreneurs,...
Read more »

Components

See all components

Project logs
  • Has 3D Printing Jumped the Shark? (And other questions that you were afraid to ask)

    4 months ago • 10 comments

    In this project log entry, I'm going to answer some questions and misconceptions about this project. This entry just happened to coincide with our departure from the Hackaday Prize, which is just coincidental, I had already planned on putting it up this week. Now that our schedule has freed up a bit, I'm not in a panicky-mode to get stuff done, and I can actually spend some time communicating what I've not been able to thus far.

    3D Printing has Jumped the Shark! Does it cheapen the machine?

    I got this question at NY Maker Faire 2014, and it wasn't in the form of a question. I was being told that by a very prominent power couple in the Hacker/Maker clique. Their advice to me was to get rid of the 3D printer functionality in the machine, because it cheapens the machine. Distancing myself from the Printrbots RepRaps, they said, would be the only way people would ever take me seriously.

    Apparently in 2014, 3D printing isn't in fashion any more, like bell bottoms or platform shoes. My retort was pretty much as follows:

    The unique thing about this machine is the ability to print out SMT component feeders out of ESD-safe conductive ABS plastic. When considering that the average feeder for a Manncorp FVX is $500, ours are two orders of magnitude cheaper. When you consider that there probably dozens, if not hundreds of different styles of tape, tube, and tray styles out there, it makes sense to just print these yourself, rather than to order them and then wait days or weeks.

    Furthermore, this IS a cheap machine. That's pretty much the whole point. Our innovations have been in getting the price point so low. If you have a makerspace around with a 3D printer, you can print almost everything in the entire machine. In the last few weeks, people in our Google groups dev mailing list have pushed 3D printed springs and other brackets that were originally purchased. (And those springs replaced expensive magnets or bearings). Now they're looking to print the delta rods (previously carbon fiber) in either one or several pieces. Not everyone has an Amazon Prime and lots of distributors catering to them.

    The original goal of the RepRap project was to replicate an entire machine. Our project may be the closest to that original idea. We are not only able to replicate almost all of the plastic pieces, but we are also able to replicate the electronic circuit board assemblies via pick and place, and solder paste application (and maybe in the not-to-distant future, replication of the circuit boards as well).

    Jack of all trades? Master of None?

    This is another question that I've gotten before, from HaD contest judge Dave Jones, back in late July:

    To me, those are words from someone that just doesn't understand open source philosophy. That's very much akin to criticizing the Linux operating system for doing more than word processing. Or saying that a mobile phone that plays Angry Birds AND checks your email is destined for failure.

    Why is it OK that a mobile phone or an operating system is allowed to do more than one thing? Well for one, because they're intended to be used as a platform. From an engineering and software perspective, a platform is the foundation in which great things are built upon. To put it another way: a technology that enables the creation of products and processes that support present or future development

    FirePick Delta was intended from the start to be a platform for the personal manufacturing movement. In that way, it's very similar to what Linux and BSD did for computing. We didn't just retrofit an existing 3D printing system and write a Ruby script to do simple functionality. Collectively, we've spent the last year doing things like computer vision, motion control, and a modular tooling system, in a way that can be used for lots of different things.

    Here's a few different scenarios to think about:

    • Solder paste dispense, with closed-loop vision to ensure that each dot was placed at the correct position, and has the correct size. Any air bubbles...
    Read more »

  • ESD Mitigation Strategy

    4 months ago • 0 comments

    Electro-static discharge is a big deal when you're working with modern SMT parts. Doubly so when you're dealing wiht SMT component feeders. Things moving around generate a charge, and these charges can even levitate parts right out of the carrier tape.

    We have a two part approach for mitigating ESD:

    Conductive Coating for all Acrylic and Anodized Surfaces

    In the USA, the best source is TechSpray Licron, available from Mouser.  Other countries have this listed under different names.

    ESD-Safe Conductive ABS 3D Printer Filament

    Part two of our approach is to use ABS plastic 3D printer filament, that is conductive, by impregnating it with carbon nanotubes :D  

    We source our filament from 3DXTech, which can also be bought from PushPlastic, where I buy the rest of my normal PLA filament.

    You can buy the ESD-safe filament here:

    3DXTech 3DXNano product page

    3DXTech 3DXNano Filament MSDS Sheet

  • SMT Component Feeders

    4 months ago • 4 comments

    This is a stub... Stay tuned, hopefully I'll have this done before the deadline!

    Modular Feeder System

    Everything on our system is modular, including the feeders.  Rather than having individual blade-style feeders (which are extremely handy, but complicated to pull of on a small scale), we decided on a 60mm base size, that can hold a certain number of tapes / tubes, depending on the component size(s).

    4x 8mm feeders:

    3x 12mm feeders:

    1x 16 and 1x 24mm feeder:

    1x 32mm feeder:

    1x 44mm feeder:

    Not to mention, any size of weird tube, like for a custom choke or coil, or any other weird specialized stuff, new types of feeders can be created, and added to this system with just a basic amount of CAD work and 3D printing.  

    ESD Mitigation

    If you haven't seen our post about ESD Mitigation, please read it here: 

    http://hackaday.io/project/963/log/10095-esd-mitigation-strategy

    Modular Feeder Holder

    All of our modular feeders go into a 3D printed feeder holder, that attaches to the aluminum extrusion rails with an M5 x 8mm button-head cap screw: 

    The curved bit gently guides tape out the bottom of the machine:

    Tape Feeders

    We assume that for home and prototyping use, that most people will not have dozens and dozens of spools laying around.  They're really expensive and not needed for general prototyping.  So we will assume that most people will be loading in cut tape strip pieces.  And there's no reason to bring in the complexity of a full-auto tape feeder if you're just dealing with cut tape strips.

    HOWEVER, it is exremely likely that many home users may have one or two large reels for those jobs where you're laying down tons of LEDs or 0.1uf capacitors, or whatever.  So right now our system has two full-auto tape feeders, so that the system is less tied to using the drag-pin feed.

    Tape Feeder (drag pin feed)

    Tape Feeder (full auto)

    Tape Feeder (strip lanes)

    (pics will be up, check back soon!)

    Tube Feeders

    We plan on supporting these in the very near future.  We just wanted to concentrate on the tape feeders first. :-)

    Tray Feeders

    We don't support JEDEC trays, because they're so big, but sometimes it's still nice to be able to pick up some random parts that either don't have carrier tape, or are on a small piece of cut tape that would be impractical to load in a normal feeder. So, we support little trays that allow you to load in a few parts at a time.  OpenPnP already has some pretty neat logic that knows how to get to the center of a part, based on the tray dimensions, and the part's dimensions.

View all 10 project logs

Discussions

ZaidPirwani wrote 3 months ago null point
Thinking of starting on this project now...

so where do I start...
am actually swarmed by all the links and the data already here..

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tom wrote 4 months ago null point
Congrats on your progress so far, I can't wait to see what's next!

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Wire wrote 4 months ago null point
Do you guys have a twitter account or mailing list that you make announcements on? Want to make sure I don't miss when the kickstarter opens.

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
Sure, we have a developers mailing list, and a beta test signup page at: http://delta.firepick.org/developers/

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Mathieu Stephan wrote 4 months ago 2 points
I'm very sorry you didn't make the cut :/

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
Our project is much bigger than the Hackaday Prize. The $200k would have been
sweet, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to where this is going. The
competition was great motivation to get to this point. But now, we've got a
decent size community built around our idea, and that spirit will be what brings
us forward and causes us to do great things. As one of the members on our dev
mailing list just quoted:

“All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is
violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer

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coflynn wrote 4 months ago 1 point
Looking forward to the eventual success of this project! Even your consideration of ESD-safe material is definitely showing that this will be a serious P&P machine, compared to some other hacked-together open-source ones. Anyway as a quick note I've seen some mention of solder paste dispensing - if you haven't seen those cheap paste dispenser tools from Aliexpress or similar, it might be an easy way to hack one on as a test. I got one for $100 or so, there's a quick video of it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhU52foegfU . But would be easy to computer-control the paste solenoid in that system... I'm sure you'll come up with something better long-term, but hell for $100 it's hard to beat the zero work it requires ;-)

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
Very cool. I've got a shot dispense system very similar to that, already wired into our machine. But I payed a lot for it years ago. Glad to know there's a cheaper alternative. We will 100% support these air/vacuum powered units, in addition to our cheap printed ones. Thanks for the link!

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idrik1 wrote 4 months ago null point
I hope your project will be production via kickstarter, because he deserves;)

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Vincent Pilate wrote 4 months ago null point
Really Really great work.
Hope you will win your ticket for space.

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peter.chen wrote 4 months ago null point
very cool

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James wrote 4 months ago null point
more updates please!

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
Hi James, we'll have everything up by the September 29th milestone hopefully.. We're a bit behind at the moment, working on BOM and mechanical issues, but we'll have to get everything posted in the next few days if we want to move on to the HaD Contest Finals :)

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Albert Huang wrote 4 months ago null point
Hi there! Just to clarify, this project intends to give the average user the ability to:

1) Print their own PCB board (3D print + print the connections);
2) Pick + place components on the PCB board;
3) Solder these components;
4) 3D print a enclosure of sorts for the project;
5) (Bonus) assemble the enclosure and board together? :D

Just curious as to how far this project will go!

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James wrote 4 months ago null point
I'm pretty sure it can do all that, except the pcb board part. unless you want a chunky plastic board that is made out of conductive plastics ; )

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
Hi Albert, James is correct, we do not print PCB's. There is a company that I saw at NY World Maker Faire, called Cartesian Co., that has a machine that will print working PCB's. I feel that it will take them a few years to perfect it, but they're making low-res double-sided PCB's right now, with plated holes (assuming you have a third machine to drill them). If they open-source one day, there's a chance that we can retrofit their silver inkjet head onto our machine or vice-versa. I also saw the Squink machine (another PCB printer) at NY Maker Faire, but wasn't as impressed with it.

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James wrote 4 months ago null point
hey, by the way, I looked every where for you guys at the maker faire, but couldn't find you. where were you?

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Neil Jansen wrote 4 months ago null point
We were in the 3D printing village, across from ZeGo Robotics. I guess there's always next year. We will be applying for that and probably Bay Area as well.

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Dashack wrote 5 months ago null point
You will create a revolution under 300.00 .ultimately we(self start hackers, cottage industrialists ) want a turn key system at our homes / workbenches. This is a critical link in that chain . The hack space will open out and we will start seeing long term a super explosion of innovation. Great work .

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Jasmine wrote 6 months ago null point
Hello Neil, Your video looks good, and you've got more than 4 project logs. I couldn't see your system design doc. Maybe you can highlight it in your details? Overall your documentation is great, and we're really pleased you entered. Get in touch if you have any questions.

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Neil Jansen wrote 6 months ago null point
Hi, I've been out of town the last few weeks, but I'm back and will get the system design document done this week hopefully. We've been working on a moving target, so we've left this step off until the last possible minute :) As far as documentation goes, we still have a lot of stuff to add (I'd consider everything up now as more of an introduction to the project). We plan on adding a considerable amount of information to what we have in the forthcoming weeks / months.

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Jasmine wrote 6 months ago null point
Great stuff. Get as much as you can up before the 20th of August as that's when we will review it for the next round.

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Neil Jansen wrote 5 months ago null point
Jasmine, I added the system design document at: https://hackaday.io/project/963/log/7557-firepick-delta-system-design-document-and-youtube-video
If you can take a look before the deadline, that would be great. Thanks!

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spackl3r wrote 6 months ago 1 point
Can't wait to see it work (not to mention a kickstarter campain :)
"Shut up and take my money" meme on standby...

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Michael Sampson wrote 6 months ago null point
Guys this is awesome... It really is. Where do i sign up to buy one!!!!!!!

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Neil Jansen wrote 6 months ago null point
You can sign up here: http://delta.firepick.org/developers/

(:

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Andrew wrote 6 months ago null point
I'd really like to see this come together. Especially the vision part of it.
We have a Madell Technologies Pick & Place machine here in lab, and it's vision system is pretty piss-poor, leaving a machine that can't really do it's intended job of finding and placing parts. Not to mention all the rest of the crummy parts software.

So, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the mechanical CAD files! I'll add another nag onto the pile for those.

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Neil Jansen wrote 6 months ago 1 point
CAD files will start to go up tonight! And the rest will follow thereafter. we've got several repo's, it will be going in the github.com/firepick-delta/firepick-delta repo.

We feel you on the Madell Technologies stuff, they're so bad I'm surprised they're still around. We hope to put 'em out of business, or force them to improve their quality ;)

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Neil Jansen wrote 6 months ago 1 point
Github mechanical files are up!! I'm still getting them all added, but it's a start. https://github.com/firepick-delta/firepick-delta/tree/dev/mechanical

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Boz wrote 7 months ago null point
Awesome! Gets my vote if it works

Especially love the idea of a optional solder paste dispenser to complete the package.

Doing solder paste by hand is messy and time consuming and requires a real steady hand, and having a good template made is so expensive.

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Minimum Effective Dose wrote 7 months ago null point
The first time I paid for a steel solder stencil was also the last time. Rough-cut edges, and the "solder paste squeegee" included in the $20 accessory add-on was a scrap piece of steel with tape on the sharp edges. F that.

Now I laser cut them out of Mylar (which is a trade name of DuPont, look for "Dura-lar" at art supply / drafting supply stores.) Much faster, and literally 200 times cheaper.

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Pixel Pirate wrote 7 months ago null point
So... can it place BGA packages? *shifts eyes left and right*

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Neil Jansen wrote 7 months ago null point
Yes, we are designing it in such a way that it should be able to place BGA packages, and have computer vision to make up for various tolerances in placement and rotation. But we're still verifying how accurate we can actually place. We'll be ordering a few BGA test kits from Topline, that include dummy BGA's and PCB's that are wired in daisy-chain pattern through each pin. That will let us know if we can do it consistently, without breaking the bank buying expensive BGA's and writing verification tests.

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D1plo1d wrote 7 months ago 1 point
Greetings from RetroPopulator, the new team on the open source pick and place block!

Check it out, our RetroPopulator's already done it's first successful pick and place demonstration: http://hackaday.io/project/1605/log/4353-retro-populator-in-action

*And* that was all done from a .brd file automatically parsed by our PopCAM software!

Ok, so it's time for some friendly competition. The ball's in your court now and all that. Can't wait to see your demo! :)

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Juha Kuusama wrote 7 months ago null point
Greetings from LitePlacer, the third pick and place project in the competition, too! My project is at http://hackaday.io/project/1755-LitePlacer---a-low-cost-Pick-and-Place-machine

May the best picker-placer win!

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Neil Jansen wrote 7 months ago null point
Great, we love competition! Don't get too comfortable, although we've been quiet the last few weeks, we've got some really cool stuff in store. We've got working vision, AND rotation! Not to mention a bunch of other cool stuff.

Btw, the only thing we love more than competition is collaboration! Don'tn be afraid to get in contact with us if you would like to work towards standard feeders or vision software, or anything else.

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D1plo1d wrote 7 months ago null point
For sure! We've got a lot of basic testing left to do but I think once we've got reliability and setup sorted out a bit more we should start looking at how the two projects can cross-pollinate.

PS. Check it out, we just pick and placed 2 boards in one run at full speed: http://hackaday.io/project/1605/log/4715

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Blecky wrote 7 months ago null point
Cheeky :P
Keep it up guys, a little feather ruffling makes for an interesting competition.

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Krinkleneck wrote 7 months ago 1 point
Call me crazy, but if the designs are mainly 1 sided pcbs then you could make it have a heated bed. That way you can place and solder in one machine maybe? Or, you could have the machine move the boards directly into an oven to reflow. You could connect boards to a conveyor system that starts with blank pcbs, they go under a roller with the pcb pattern, through a slow etching bath, through a preset robotic QC for connectors, into a tinning solution, under a soldermask roller, under a masked uv source, cleaned, More QC to make sure the connectors aren't covered, through a pasting station, in and out of the placement, through an oven, colling station and one final qc to make sure everything is connected.

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zakqwy wrote 7 months ago 1 point
Hi Neil,

I'd love to look through your CAD model in detail. What are your thoughts on putting all project files on a shared repo for folks to freely download and open? It seems like you've put a lot of time in to designing the linkages (amongst other parts) and I think we could all learn a lot (especially those of us that are new to kinematics).

Thanks!
Zach

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Neil Jansen wrote 7 months ago null point
My apologies for not having the 3D CAD files up by now. There are a few things we're working on to get them posted. #1 we're moving some of our repositories around to be a little more self-explanatory and easier to maintain. We've created a github 'org' and we are in the process of forking to the firepick org and deleting the old ones under Karl's firepick1 account. #2 we are trying to finish documentation and part numbering so that people know what they're building, and how many parts to print. #3, I'm putting under a yet-to-be-created Open Source license that I'll explain soon. Hope that's understandable. We have five teammates now, working full-time to get all of this stuff done. They should be posted very soon, I will let everyone know when they go live.

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TTN wrote 7 months ago 1 point
Requesting 3d files for the printable delta section :)

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Neil Jansen wrote 7 months ago null point
Hi, we'll have the files posted soon... We're trying to catch up on documentation and other stuff. I'll make a post when we have files available to download. Thanks for the interest!

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