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 expansion hole.

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 area.

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