If you used FR4 instead of acrylic or whatever, you might be able to leave the aligner stencil in place for reflow. That might let you do some of the smaller parts.
> If you used FR4 instead of acrylic or whatever, you might be able to leave the aligner stencil in place for reflow. That might let you do some of the smaller parts.
When the solder wets it will 'suck' the part into place, the alignment of the part isn't particularly critical. If you are dealing with extremely small parts like 0402 or under caps, you can run into issues where the wetting of one side just before the other causing the cap to pop up on end, but that isn't an alignment issue and the stencil won't help. In a proper production line these parts would have what is basically glue holding the middle in place enough to avoid this.
EDIT: If you're finding the parts aren't sucking into place, chance are you need to use more flux or check the solder formulation you're using against the PCB finish.
The Liteplacer doesn't seem like great value for money IMO - for a bit more money, you could have a small used industrial machine with a decent set of feeders.
Prices for 4-layer boards and boards larger than 100x100mm have fallen significantly over the last year (driven mostly by JLCPCB), which has hugely expanded the possibilities for hobbyist electronics.
Not affiliated either.
But if you need more than a one-off the savings are clear.
The SLA printing service is a real game changer too.
Been using 3D Print UK and have been thinking of using digits2widgets and eventually getting a Form 2 to SLA print in house.
Most of my 3D print experience before had been with the filament type machines, and the DirtyPCBs SLA service is a huge step up in quality, and lower hassle/cost as long as parts are fairly small like mine tend to be.
Let's say I had a board about as complicated as an Arduino Leonardo, and I wanted 10 prototype boards populated. Roughly how much should I expect to spend?
I ended up doing my last 10 boards by hand because the minimum price is too high now, it starts at $141, no matter how few pads you take.
Two years ago I got 20 boards incl. pcb and parts for $120, each had 46 SMD pads to be soldered! 3 cent per pad, 46 pads per board, 20 boards and $30 minimum fee for soldering. $51.60 in parts (20 atmegas, resistors and caps are free), $20 PCBs, $8.40 shipping. That was fantastic!
Does anybody know a cheaper PCBA service? Seeed and itead were not better than Elecrow...
Too bad. This is a good idea. I have some boards with lots of small components where this would help, and I have access to laser cutters. Maybe with a thinner plastic layer on top... Also, with small components, getting the placement stencil off without taking the tiny components with it may be tough.
Board edge shearing is less precise than the pad placement, and this thing uses a base frame to align to the board edge. Pick and place machines align to reference marks on the board, using cameras. You might need some kind of fine screw adjustment to move the board very slightly.
I've seen videos of the Liteplacer, which is a slow pick and place machine for prototypes. It's useful for when you are only making a very small number of boards, because it can work from components laid out in wells or on tape that's not on reels. The production oriented machines require that you have enough components on reels to get the feeders started.
Stencils used to cost about $200, but at $25, this starts to look like a viable option.
Does anyone here know what the smallest practical hole size is in acrylic?