Index PnP – An open-source pick-and-place machine for mid-scale manufacturing

We’ve previously written about one open-source pick-and-place machine,  SimplePNP aiming to provide a low-cost solution for several hundred dollars and relying on OpenPnP open-source control software.

But Stephen Hawes found out this type of solution did not cut it for mid-scale manufacturing (100 to 5000 units per year), so he decided to build his own. Meet Index PnP, an open-source pick-and-place machine designed for mass-production volumes typical of crowdfunding projects.

Index PNP open-source pick-and-place machine

The project was introduced launched with the following requirements

  • Automated – no human interaction necessary from attaching the paste-applied board to the machine to having a board ready for reflow
  • Capable of picking and placing components down to 0603 passives
  • Integrated up and down vision for fiducial scanning and on-nozzle component alignment
  • Automatic nozzle tip changer to support a wide range of component sizes
  • Frame and motherboard design capable of future upgrades
    • Mechanical and Electrical support for conveyor belt module
    • Mechanical and Electrical support for solder paste dispensing head
    • Expansion ports for hacking and interfacing with the machine
  • Feeder Implementation – System supports banks of intelligent, powered feeders
    • Feeders can handle down to 4mm pitch components
    • Feeders can handle 8mm, 12mm, 16mm, and 24mm tape, both paper and plastic
    • Feeders can hold a standard 7-inch diameter reel of components.
    • Support for feeder communication in Marlin and OpenPnP
Index PNP control board
Beta version of Index PnP motherboard – Source Arturo182

Index PnP is still under development, but good progress has been made and some people have received the beta version of REV03 of the motherboard based on an STMicro STM32F407VET6microcontroller. The board runs Marlin with a couple of changes including RS-485 & ADC support, as well as “Board Config” with all the correct pin mappings. You’ll find all resources needed to be your own on Github.

Note that at this stage of development, it’s still not recommended to use the machine for production. But if you’d like what it’s like to build Index PnP, Stuart Pittaway gives it a try and documented his experience in four-part video series starting with 3D printed parts, then base frame assembly, Y gantry assembly, and the final steps of the build with the installation of the motors, belts & pulleys.

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