Automatic Pick and Place Feeders

We are trying to make cost viable feeders for OpenPnP Machines.

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The project is to make feeders for OpenPnP Machines, and to do so as simple and cost effective as possible. This project is currently in the third phase of prototyping, and the current solution is being made for a modified shapeoko PnP machine.

Many people with Pick and Place machines now are interested in feeders that are easy to use, easy to swap out and don't cost a fortune.

Right now we are working on a feeder that uses a pancake stepper motor to advance the tape. The gears used to do this make for incredibly accurate advancement of the tape. What this means is, after the use of 100 parts or more, the next part will still be in position to be picked up by the PnP head.

Here is a quick demonstration of our second generation feeder prototype. We are currently working on version three, and will update the video when we can.

  • Automatic Feeders

    ProtoVoltaics09/09/2015 at 17:08 0 comments

    Our automatic feeders are the biggest differentiator between us and other projects like ours. We laser cut the parts for our feeders locally. We have a demo video of our previous prototype of the feeders here.

    Each feeder bus has a master feeder that talks back to the control computer with a USB cable. Each master feeder can be connected to multiple "daughter" feeders through a CAN (Controller Area Network) bus. The CAN bus is what is used in automobiles for reliable communication among all of the electronics in vehicles. The feeders are daisy chained together to establish communication from a feeder, to the master feeder, back to the control computer.

    Various parameters stored on the feeder control the actions of the feeders, such as how many steps the stepper motor should take to advance the tape reel, how long the tape retraction motor should run, and so on.

    We will release the details for all of this communication in case someone wants to use our feeders with a different machine.

  • New design

    ProtoVoltaics08/14/2015 at 14:02 2 comments

    We have updated the design of the feeder. They are now about a quarter of the size they were, and they still work with full size reels. We are currently using them with our pick and place, and they have been working very well.

    If you have any questions about the feeders or pnp please ask in the comment section below!

  • DC National Maker Faire!

    ProtoVoltaics05/28/2015 at 11:43 0 comments

    Hey everyone we have officially been invited to display our feeders and pnp at the DC Maker Faire! We hope to see you all there!

  • Mission Complete

    ProtoVoltaics05/18/2015 at 14:02 0 comments

    Hey everyone! Well we finally got everything working pretty well together. I'm happy to announce that this project is now completed. In the video below you will see the feeder in action working with our pick and place machine. We will continue to update this page as we make changes/upgrades to the feeders. I will make another video soon with multiple feeders feeding the pick and place, and I will also show you how easy they are to install/replace. Enjoy and thanks for your support!

  • The Finish Line

    ProtoVoltaics05/05/2015 at 17:49 0 comments

    We have been putting this on the back burner as we have been putting in long days on the pick and place machine. However at long last the finish line is in sight. We will have a fully functional ready to use feeder by the end of tomorrow. When it is done we will hook them up to our Pick and Place and show them making one of our Arduino RTD Shields seen here.

    The video if the finished product will take a little longer to produce as we will have to finish programming the CV to place IC components. We should have the next video within a week or two!

  • Update 6

    ProtoVoltaics04/17/2015 at 18:29 0 comments

    We now have a way to hook the feeders in so that they hang off the side of the PnP unit without needing to be screwed in. This will allow users to simply pick up on the handle to change reels anywhere in the stack. We are very excited about how easy these are to replace.

    The feeders are almost complete. We will post a video of our Pick and Place working with the feeders within the next week or two. We are going to do one more version of the feeder. No major changes just moving the connection ports to the back of the unit for easier access.

  • Update 5

    ProtoVoltaics04/13/2015 at 19:06 0 comments

    We ordered the wrong parts for last weeks update. The correct parts just came in today! We are working hard to have the next finished model complete very soon. The issue with the last model was it could only communicate with its nearest neighboring feeder. The new parts will allow communication between all feeders.

  • Update 4

    ProtoVoltaics04/03/2015 at 15:38 0 comments

    Just finished editing the video on the manufacturing process of our latest feeder model check it out! Follow us here and on YouTube to keep up with our updates on this project as well as other projects!

  • Pick and Place

    ProtoVoltaics04/02/2015 at 18:43 0 comments

    We are currently working on finishing our own PnP machine. This project will remain a separate project as we believe a somewhat "universal" feeder system will be needed. There are many different PnP machines out there, and we want to be able to have a solution for most of them.

    Stay tuned for the next feeder update, and keep a watch out for the PnP project coming soon, or check out our blog to see where we are now!

  • Update 3

    ProtoVoltaics03/27/2015 at 19:55 0 comments

    The current feeder is being made for a Shapeoko 2 that we have been tinkering with. The end goal is the have a feeder that works for most of the low cost PnP machines that are available. We want to make a feeder that can be easily replaced even if it is in the middle of the stack. We are close to achieving this goal, and are working hard to get a demo video to show full functionality.

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swaroop.mech47 wrote 11/30/2016 at 10:00 point


This is sai swaroop Dundigalla. I am doing my masters in germany. now i am working as an intern in a start up company and working on "Pick n place machine" project. Now i have to design an auto-feeder. The design should be simple and economical because we are only going to fabricate all the parts using manual milling machine. So could you guys help me out in designing a simple auto-feeder?

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