How To Make Your Own Manual Pick and Place Tool
Pick-and-place tools is one of the most commonly used tools in handling electronics components; it can pick
surface mount component and then place it on the PCB.
The basic principle of the tools is rather simple, it contains a
barrel and a picking tip, the tips is installed with ESD safe
suction cup. When the air inside the barrel is removed,
it created a vacuum force to hold the component.
One implementation of such tools is to use industrial
syringe. The plunger removes air inside the barrel, the
return spring force the plunger to its original position to
create the vacuum force. The suction cup is then used to
hold the target device and place it on the target location.
To assemble the tool you can buy industrial syringe and ESD
suction cup in your local electronics store. You can also
buy return spring from your local hardware store. One issue
arises during making such tools, that is the plunger stop
could often jammed inside the syringe after a few uses.
Lubricate the plunger and syringe
It is important to probably lubricate the plunger's stop for smooth and long lasting
operations. There are many difference type of lubrication agent available from
your local hardware store, including WD40 and silicon based lube.
Using general purpose lubricate agent will cause the plunger to expand, the
picture on the left shows the difference before and after the plunger being soaped with silicon oil.
One solution is to punch a hole in the middle of the stopper, the small hole
allows the rubber to expand without jamming the wall.
Use mold release agent to lubricate the plunger
A better way to lubricate the plunger is to use release
agent. Release agent is used to separate silicone rubber
from the master mold in rubber casting procedure. Such agent
allows the plunger to move freeing without punching the
Picking the right target area
Although you can pick component on any flat surface, you
should avoid picking area with uneven laser marking area.
Air will link through the marking and decrease the holding
time of the tool. The best way to pick such laser-marked
component is to put a piece of tape on top of the
components, and then you can use the tools to pick taped
A 3cc syringe pick-and-place tool can hold a 50-gram
aluminum block for more then 60 seconds. A typical 100-pin TQFP plastic
package weight only 2-gram and the average
pick/place action would only need less then a few seconds.
In this article, we go through the detail implementation of
a low cost pick and place tools. We hope you found this
article useful. If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to contact us at