Eric Boyd and team’s Retro Populator project over at Hackaday Projects attempts to retrofit a 3D printer into an electronics pick-n-place assembly. A dual community project between Ultimate Workshop and HackLab Toronto, and answers the question of “what’s the next new thing” with “well, let’s do better stuff with outdated 3D printers!” As many 3D enthusiasts buy their 2nd, 3rd, and beyond machines, perhaps there is more to do with those that aren’t as busy printing electronics enclosures for your projects. 😉
A jig and software for allowing a 3D printer to do electronics pick-n-place assembly. It populates boards, by retrofitting a 3D printer, hence Retro Populator.
Motivation: surface mount soldering is great, but the process of placing parts is horribly tedious and requires great manual dexterity as well good vision. Doing a few boards by hand is practical, but doing more than about 20 is hell on earth. Yet it’s not practical (read: affordable) to pay industry to do it until about 500 boards – the setup charges just kill you. So there is this huge chasm between what’s doable for hobbyists by hand, and where industry can take over, and this volume is quite commonly desired in the maker community – a small run of 50 to 100 boards is in fact typical. Thus, the desire to build machines that hobbyists can own to do electronics pick-n-place. Our cost-saving idea is to retrofit similar machines that makers already own: 3D printers.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.