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SXSW: Imagine a Practical, Low-Cost Circuit Board Assembly System (Video)

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the before-the-industrial-revolution-people-made-most-things-at-home dept.

Hardware 60

SXSW Create is one of a handful of sub-shows at SXSW which don't require an expensive badge — it's maker-oriented and small, and a few blocks from the slicker parts of the convention. (The local ATX Hackerspace was there showing off robots and giving out soldering lessons and blinkies, without a single corporate pitch.) Under the same tent, I met with Jeff McAlvay, co-creator of Board Forge, which Jeff hopes will make small-run circuit board creation as easy and accessible as small-scale 3-D printing has become in the last few years. ("Think MakerBot for electronics.") The prototype hardware McAlvay had on hand looks -- in fact, is a 3-D printer, albeit one lower-slung than the ones that make plastic doo-dads. That's because the Board Forge's specialized task of assembling circuit boards requires only limited vertical movement. It's using the open-source OpenCV computer vision software and a tiny camera mounted on a movable head to accomplish the specialized task of selecting and placing components onto the boards. The tiny electronic components are lined up in strips on one side of the device, where that smart head can grab them for placement. The brains of the operation include an Arduino-family processor for basic controls, and a Raspberry Pi for the higher-level functions like computer vision. The projected cost for one of these machines — about $2000 — should put instant-gratification machine-aided circuit creation in reach of schools and serious hobbyists, but there's plenty of work before it's set for sale to the public; look for a Kickstarter project in the next few months.

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SXSW: Imagine... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43141145)

Imagine a News for Nerds site that doesn't have a new SXSW story every other hour....

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43141191)

Or a Raspberry Pi related story...

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142113)

Or a Raspberry Pi related story...

Or a story about how Microsoft announced at SXSW that they are suing Raspberry Pi, and ZOMG, the tweet about it came from an iPhone not a Windows Phone and then Ballmer threw a chair.

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43147139)

Bitcoins anyone ?

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141225)

sxsw has ballooned ridiculously.

however this looks cool.

I'm a bit skeptical about the projected cost of the machine though. and we really need some beefier control electronics than avr's(nobody seems to be producing them en masse now other than with arduinos/avr's) - if you're wondering "why".. well, it has shit for program space and crappier than shit for memory! it's really holding back fw for home 3d printers at the moment.

(raspi isn't practical right now.. though I guess it's not totally out of question to hook up several avr's to it to make it practical and still cheap)

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141543)

Unless you have some mysterious reason for insisting that the control electronics duplicate, rather than supplement, the ridiculously powerful, RAM-heavy, and massively-mass-storaged computer that you can buy for $200 and use for all kinds of neat stuff, is there a problem with AVRs?

If you are doing a circuit design(or even just downloading one from somebody who did) you presumably own a computer massively more powerful than any microcontroller or embedded system(not counting 'embedded' systems that are server gear with extended temperature ratings put in the same box as the device being controlled) ever made. That PC won't have many PWM outputs, and any DACs and ADCs it has will probably be horribly tweaked in favor of pleasing sound, since they'll be on the sound card; but it will otherwise have ridiculous power to spare.

Microcontrollers make excellent complements, since they have pitiful computational and RAM specs; but tend to be well supplied with PWMs and ADCs. Why reinvent the PC as part of the machine?

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (3, Informative)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142071)

Unless you have some mysterious reason for insisting that the control electronics duplicate, rather than supplement, the ridiculously powerful, RAM-heavy, and massively-mass-storaged computer that you can buy for $200 and use for all kinds of neat stuff, is there a problem with AVRs?

If you are doing a circuit design(or even just downloading one from somebody who did) you presumably own a computer massively more powerful than any microcontroller or embedded system(not counting 'embedded' systems that are server gear with extended temperature ratings put in the same box as the device being controlled) ever made. That PC won't have many PWM outputs, and any DACs and ADCs it has will probably be horribly tweaked in favor of pleasing sound, since they'll be on the sound card; but it will otherwise have ridiculous power to spare.

Microcontrollers make excellent complements, since they have pitiful computational and RAM specs; but tend to be well supplied with PWMs and ADCs. Why reinvent the PC as part of the machine?

realtime reasons? controlling more devices in sync? minimizing delays? I mean those are among the reasons usually cited as reasons when asking why not just have all the devices hooked up to pc separately.

with cnc machines it's common that they're just hooked up to parallel though(though usb is coming more common in home cnc as parallel is going exint). but with repraps, makerbots it's generally preferable to print from sd card on the machine as while feeding the movement codes over usb works ok 99% of the time(that's how I usually do with because of being a lazy ass).. it's that 1%, that one extra pause due to it being usb, that can cause a blip on your print.

on cnc routers that's not a problem though. it's not like the routing bit is going to leak.

so barring all that yeah, I would prefer just a solution where I could just run endless amount of steppers in sync from my pc, of course. but in the meantime I'd rather have lots of more cpu time (and by extension pins) available for io on the avr board that I need to use to run them now.

point being you can buy servos now with optical encoders and arm chips embedded, which makes avr+steppers look quite stone age.(those servos with continous rotation cost a hundred bucks a pop though).

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142547)

You can have AVR (or whatever other similarly-priced microcontroller) and SD, there's no reason why not. If you dump the code to the device and it stores it before attempting to run it then it can keep running even if you are disconnected.

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#43143617)

You can have AVR (or whatever other similarly-priced microcontroller) and SD, there's no reason why not. If you dump the code to the device and it stores it before attempting to run it then it can keep running even if you are disconnected.

uploading it on the boards I have takes ages if you do it through the usb serial to the board. besides, there's no free space in the firmware for code to handle the save to sd from the usb serial. basically the fw development is at a dead end because of that. so... whenever I want to print from SD I have to physically move the sd card to the computer, dump the file on the card, move the card back to the machine and start the print(I can start the print from the computer though, or from the control panel on the machine). of course this wouldn't be a problem if there was a more modern micro sitting between the avr and the pc that could actually take the file dump in at reasonable speed.

it's kinda ridiculous that a 2 thousand dollar machine is being ran by a four dollar micro and as not so straightforward consequence can't even auto calibrate itself(endstops only at one ends of the axles..).

Re:SXSW: Imagine... (1)

timothy (36799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43274897)

"sxsw has ballooned ridiculously.

however this looks cool."

When I was a student at UT, it was all film and music, and (since it's at the university's spring break anyhow) always meant a time for me to get out of Dodge/Austin to avoid crowds / parking problems / traffic jams, etc. It really has ballooned, and the Multimedia (bah! bad word!) part I keep hearing is still the fastest growing.

I still don't care much for loud / dark / drunken nightlife stuff, the crowds, the traffic jams, but it is great to see a lot of interesting ideas on display.

More than pick-and-place (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141313)

I can't see from work but is this anything more than a pick-and-place machine? For home made circuit boards, that is hardly the bottleneck. Etching and drilling is the part that needs machine precision.

Re:More than pick-and-place (5, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141351)

Ultimately, the machine will etch traces, apply solder paste, place components, cook, and test. Version 1.0 places components.

Re:More than pick-and-place (4, Funny)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141357)

shit damn, I forgot the quotes and the snippy annoying RTFA comment.

Re:More than pick-and-place (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142049)

"Ultimately, the machine will etch traces, apply solder paste, place components, cook, and test. Version 1.0 places components."

FTFY on the quotation marks.

My thinking is why replicate functionality that's been available for many years with V.1.0? There are already machines that do that, that have been around for decades.

Here, take your pick: http://www.wotol.com/product-list?&category_title=auto-insertion-machine&category_ids=1091&page=5 [wotol.com]

Call me back when he starts a prototype to actually do the etching, soldering, testing, etc that is mentioned.

Strat

Re:More than pick-and-place (3, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142155)

Those machines are also eyewateringly expensive. This machine is actually pretty damn cheap even if all it does is pick and place.

Re:More than pick-and-place (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a year and a half ago | (#43189021)

Those machines are also eyewateringly expensive. This machine is actually pretty damn cheap even if all it does is pick and place.

Sorry for the late reply. Those machines were just the quickest example that I could link to. The reason for the expense is because the high industrial/production volume/rates they are built for. Those machines are for high-volume, large-scale production operations in large factories.

People have been able to easily build a pick-&-place type machine like one that loads a standard through-hole printed-circuit board using solenoids/servos/stepper-motors and bog-standard industrial/commercial OTS programmable controllers costing a few hundreds for the past couple of decades now. I know. I've been employed in the past to design and set up PCB-based factory assembly lines. I've built them and machines that perform similar operations while working in the industrial automation field.

Here's some info on PLCs and a pic of a commonly-seen type:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmable_logic_controller [wikipedia.org]

http://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00EvGtRwpBaCzS/PLC-Programmable-Logic-Controller-XC3-48-60-.jpg [made-in-china.com]

So, you'll have to excuse my lack of excitement if all that's happened is substituting one type of controller tech for another.

Strat

Re:More than pick-and-place (4, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142143)

Actually a pick and place machine is precisely addressing the bottleneck if you need to make small runs. Sure, for a 1-off board it doesn't matter much. But if you want to make a run of 50 boards, you can get the bare PCBs made very cheaply, but assembling the boards is another matter altogether. (I have actually found a company that will assemble 50 boards for a reasonable price, but it would still be a lot better - even if it wasn't any cheaper - to have the assembly done genuinely "in house", not to mention a much faster turnaround time).

Re:More than pick-and-place (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#43145301)

I have actually found a company that will assemble 50 boards for a reasonable price

Which company is that? I've been looking for such a place and haven't found much, only places with ridiculous prices.

Re:More than pick-and-place (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43226543)

I have actually found a company that will assemble 50 boards for a reasonable price

Which company is that? I've been looking for such a place and haven't found much, only places with ridiculous prices.

Ridiculous price of course is relative, some I've found.

http://www.internationalsensor.com/
http://brightcircuits.com
http://ourpcb.com
Many more China outsource companies, just search for pcb assembly

The first one, everything is done in the U.S. (Nebraska actually) and they do a pretty good job. A bit more expensive than the China outsource ones, but it isn't bad.

Re:More than pick-and-place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142883)

it is a pick-and-place machine, but calling it a 3d printer is so much more hip

 

Just pick and place? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141319)

Or will this have interchangeable heads that do mask printing, PCB milling, drilling, etc?

Close... (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141325)

But show me one that makes the board, etches, and then assembles and you'll have my money in a heartbeat!

Re:Close... (3, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141453)

So, inkjet a wax and asphaultum solution through a heated nozzel, touch gently with a few passes from a hot air blower, then dunk the whole thing in the etching bath.

Wait a preprogrammed amount of time, fish it out, then plunk it in hot soapy water, agitate, then hang up to dry.

(News for nerds: beeswax and asphaultum have been used as a deep etching mask for centuries, and is used to mask iron cutlery blades for acid etched artwork. Filtered mixtures of the stuff would lend themselves very well to existing 3d print systems, as it is both cheap, and reusable, with a low melting point. Copper etches much faster than iron, and the depth of etching is far shallower. The most expensive product involved would be the acid etchant itself, and let's face it, a strong solution of CLR will work just fine here, as would dollarstore knockoff HCl based toilet cleansing gel, and those are both pretty damned cheap.)

Re:Close... (2)

gabereiser (1662967) | about a year and a half ago | (#43148921)

yeah i know you can etch your own boards (I do) but to have a little desktop "autobot" that can not only cut the copper to size, etch the circuit on it, then assemble the pieces would be a HUGE breakthrough for us hobbyist tinkerer's.

Re:Close... (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year and a half ago | (#43150903)

That's what I was getting at. A carousel tool cassette with fixed position head, an X,Y,Z table with 2 bath tubs on another x axis slide table, 2 reservoirs, one with solder paste and another with wax+asphaultum mask, and a simple means to drop and raise the table in and out of the tubs, and you have a winner.

Whole process:

you still manually saw/cut your prototype board to size, then lock it to the table.

The first NC program is loaded and started. The robot uses the camera to find the edges of the prototype board, sets the local axis system, and takes off.

The tool carousel rotates until the wax resist 3d print nozzel is locked in place, the nozzel heater activates, and the system primes the nozzel. It then draws the resist layer on the prototype board.

The table moves to the home position, and the resist layer nozzel is rotated out and replaced with a hot air blower. The table descends slightly, and warm air helps seat the resist layer down with a few passes over the workpiece by moving the table underneath the stationary head.

Table returns to home position and waits a programmed period of time for the softened resist to harden back up.

Lower table with etchant bins slides underneath the the worktable, worktable descends into the etchant bath. X,Y actuators on the work table move the board 1mm x,y,-x,-y in rapid succession to agitate in the etchant bath. This continues for several minutes.

Worktable raises up from etchant solution tank, lower table moves the rinse tank under the worktable. Worktable descends, and the agitation cycle resumes for the programmed period.

Table raises, and the hot air gun softens the resist again. (Also dries the board somewhat, but we want water on the board still, because it helps in the next step.) Table quickly homes, swaps to a teflon scraper tool, then scrapes off the resist layer. Table homes, returns to hot air gun, then heats the board up nice and toasty, vaporizing water and any left over wax resist off the board. Table homes then waits for it to cool down.

Hot air nozzel swapped out for solder paste nozzel. Table moves the workpiece under the nozzle as it deposits the paste layer.

Pick and place head swapped in. Pick and place uses a small vacuum pump and a tiny head to pick up and place components. Pick and place head has 360 rotation, but still fixed position. Table moves pieces to the head, and positions the workpiece under the head for placement. Head rotation allows the head to reorient picked up components to the proper orientation.

After pick and place operation, the workpiece is done as far as the robot is concerned. User carefully unloads the workpiece, and pops it in the toaster oven to flow the solder.

So, again, tool carousel with 5 swappable tools on a fixed position turret, an XYZ movement 2.5 axis table. Rotation on the pick and place head, and an X axis sled underneath with etching tubs on it. Components for the pick and place head are on an elevated portion of the worktable where they can be positioned under the head, but will always stay out of the etching and washing baths.this area has small wells to hold the components.

(Granted, buildng such a toy for under 1000$ is unlikely, but it is certainly doable for under 2500$.)

Re:Close... (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | about a year and a half ago | (#43159273)

You sir, have my money! Please... I don't have the time, nor the patience to build this but this is pretty much exactly what I (and other) want. MakerBots are cool, but what about a PrinterBot? You could probably add the reflow step to this machine if it was enclosed somehow, and then its up to the user to hand-solder the large through-hole components.

Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (4, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141405)

A $2K device that does solder paste and Pick-and-Place is what we need. You can have circuit boards made easily and cheaply from a number of places. It's been a loooong time since I thought it was worth the time and hassle of playing in the soup myself. I don't see the point of trying to make PCBs at home any more. Toaster oven or hot plate soldering works great for suface mount. The two killers are 1) applying solder paste, and 2) pick and place. So, a cheap reliable stencil is one option for older. A friend of mine has a Mikini 1610L CNC mill, and we did a hack to add a manual solder paste syringe (one of the compressed-air driven hand-held units) as a tool head. Our first attempt got some nearly usable boards, but it would require tuning and another rev to get the right amount of paste and make it all work. Other people have done hobbyist grade Pick-n-place. Combining the two operations, adding the webcam for precise part orientation, and hitting $2K would be a game changer.

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141841)

Instinct tells me that CAM-daubing solder paste is only barely efficient for a one-off. At about a quantity of 4 pieces, it should be far easier to cut a stencil, align it with the bare board, and squeegee solder paste onto it.

If the $2000 device can make the stencils, now you're onto something.

There is a slight advantage to making the bare boards yourself - time. You're not waiting days or weeks for the board shop to turn your job, you can load up a blank board and have an assembled prototype tomorrow (without the rush fees that are cost-prohibitive for hobbyists). If you're doing more than a small handful of boards, it's almost certainly less expensive to get a boardhouse to produce the bare boards, at the tradeoff of lead time.

I expect that it's more efficient to "etch" the traces with a CNC mill for a one-off prototype, allowing makering without forcing people "into the soup". (...or you can just print the photoresist stencils on laser transparency media, and do a photoresist/chemical etch process, or you can do a toner-transfer resist...)

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (2)

dbc (135354) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142193)

There are plenty of board shops where you can get 2 to 8 or so boards turned at reasonable (hobbyist-friendly) prices and have boards in 4 or 5 days (no mask and silk screen). With 6/6 design rules and plated-through holes -- if you can do 6/6 and through-plating in your garage with reasonably priced equipment and good reliability, and repeatability, and not spend more than a couple hours at it, then wow, show me how. Until then, I'd rather spend my time designing and debugging than messing around with a problem I can solve cheaply by rubbing small amounts of money on it. What you do while you wait 4 days for a new board is work on your *other* projects.

As to CAM-daubing solder, you are correct in that it scales up poorly. It's great for one-off prototypes since there is zero design-specific tooling. I have an old, crotchety laser cutter and have tried making laser-cut limited-use stencil in mylar and drafting velum, which are OK down to about 0603 parts, but not so good for TQFPs, not enough resolution. A better laser cutter solves that problem, but that is high-$$. I haven't tried laser-cutting Kapton, which has a good chance of working for small quantities of boards. I've seen people etch their own stencils in brass shim stock, but again getting to TQFP is a challenge and finer pitch is very challenging.

I suppose CNC engraving a brass (or similar) stencil on a $2K machine is possible with a fine enough cutter, but I suspect it would take longer to do (by 2X or 4X) than solder-daubing. The issue for prototyping is getting a process that scales down to small quantities well. A quick to make and cheap disposable stencil would be a winner, but I haven't found a way to make that yet.

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142531)

A quick to make and cheap disposable stencil would be a winner, but I haven't found a way to make that yet.

How about punching the holes in a sheet of some kind of plastic? Using the nearest hackerspace's laser cutter seems like a reasonable solution to me, however.

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142969)

you can get laser cut mylar stencils for when you only need to get a few prototypes done

I also see cheaper metal stencils starting to show up, the process is much the same as
making pcbs; cover metal with resist and etch

Some places will even add the stencil for "free" when you order pcbs

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#43145327)

There's a couple of places that make laser-cut Kapton stencils for pretty cheap prices: ohararp.com and polulu.com. But for a one-off board, it is a significant cost (usually about $25).

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43148227)

You're absolutely right on the layers & plated through holes. Anything you can run in-house is extremely likely to be single or double layer, with no plated through holes. That doesn't mean they're not useful, but it is darn hard to use a high pin count surface mount chip with them.

Etching your own board might be useful if none of your devices are more than about 28 pins. I guess I was thinking that if you're doing anything more complicated than that, there's enough board design to warrant a commercially fabricated board.

(I'm still old-school enough to occasionally make my own 1 or 2 layer non-PTH boards in the basement from time to time, for use with through-hole parts. Why yes, I do have vacuum tubes on hand, as well as a few of those new-fangled solid state transfer resistors...)

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43143593)

Last year I bought here in Spain a stencil printer for €250. Individual stencils are €65 (lasre cut steel sheet), and you can put several boards, eventually both sides on a single stencil. I can't remember maximum stencil size since I mostly do very small RF boards and have got up to 6 stencil on a single steel sheet that I insert in the frame. I've stopped trying to put solder paste by hand/syringe unless it's a one off quick check prototype with less than 50 or 60 pads.

I certainly no more do PCB myself, when I can get double sided boards with plated through holes for less than €50.

The one thing I'm certainly looking for is a PCB manufacturer that can do laser cut cavities on RF substrates like TacLam+ to insert bare dies. So far I've not yet found and I'd really need it for some projects.

Now pick and place is another matter, I'd love to have a cheap and reasonably fast solution to the problem.

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43143679)

"CAM-daubing solder paste is only barely efficient for a one-off...There is a slight advantage to making the bare boards yourself "

Reflow without Solder mask? Not recommended. No plated holes either for vias. 4 layer boards - Forgettaboutit!

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43151337)

I haven't done a board which uses less than four layers in ages, so something that will etch or mill copper to make traces doesn't do much for me. I can wait a couple of days for a proto board house to send me a package.

Re:Pick-place and solder paste are the issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43147151)

I agree with the sentiment, but would like to point out that there is one reason to do all the soup at home : quickly test a small idea. Sometimes, it is good to not have to wait 3 days for the PCBs to arrive home. Start the process, go to lunch, and test after that.

Comment about the quality of the video: (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#43141811)

I can't hear shit! [ebaumsworld.com]

For fuck's sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142083)

Is there anything you won't call a "3D printer" to create buzz for fad?

Re:For fuck's sake (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142635)

Look at my laser printer! It's like a 3D printer but it prints on paper using toner instead of depositing plastic in layers!
Look at my CNC mill! It's like a 3D printer but it cuts material instead of depositing plastic in layers!
Look at my pick-and-place machine! It's like a 3D printer but it places components on a circuit board instead of depositing plastic in layers!

Re:For fuck's sake (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43151371)

Look at my laser printer! It's like a 3D printer but it prints on paper using toner instead of depositing plastic in layers!

Just one layer on substrate is the limit with most of them; there are registration issues when you try to do multi-pass.

Toner IS plastic, isn't it?

Stop pimping SXSW! (0)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142107)

God damn it, every time I look at this increasingly crypto-ad-laden site there's a new Roblimo story about SXSW.

WE GET IT. SXSW IS HIP.

Jeez, back off. Dice Holdings is really getting their money's worth out of Slashdot aren't they?

Re:Stop pimping SXSW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142537)

No kidding. WTF is all this stuff doing at a MUSIC FESTIVAL!?!?!?!?!!?!

Does anyone think about instruction? (2)

spopepro (1302967) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142315)

There's been an explosion of tools for creation coming out at low prices, and every time someone says "it's for schools!" like the only things that's keeping students from an engineering curriculum is the cost of the hardware.

The biggest obstacle is instructor support/training/professional devleopment/curriculum... basically everything except the hardware. So in the mean time you have university/foundation sponsored projects at indivudual schools that get everyone excited, all of which have absolutely no portability to any other context. So then we're back to individual people doing special things and you're lucky if your kid is at that school and screwed if they aren't.

But we get to feel good about "doing something for education", I guess...

Re:Does anyone think about instruction? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#43145367)

I don't see how that situation is going to change much. The people who are really into things like building their own 3D printers or PnP machines are not the type of people interested in being high school teachers and dealing with unruly teenagers. Just take a look at the video; does that guy look like someone who could (or would want to) handle a classroom full of disrespectful teens? Maybe if they stopped mainstreaming everyone and separated kids into different schools, the way they do in Germany, so that the nerdy kids go to one school and the jocks and assholes go to a different school.

Imagining, yay (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142345)

Okay, now imagine Lindsay Lohan, naked, doing a backwards crab walk.

Just do this for me!

hearing (1)

hackula (2596247) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142413)

guy needs to print himself a good hearing aid...

Re:hearing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43151421)

Sorry, what did you say?

Imagine? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43142585)

There's already other people working on a pick-and-place machine [buildyourcnc.com] . Granted the future goals of Board Forge are greater, but combining a multi-head CNC mill with a pick-and-place machine is not a new idea.

Re:Imagine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43144195)

Pick and place is easy.
They key question ? FROM WHERE to pick.
The feeders - tray and reel - are the most difficult and expensive part

Re:Imagine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43180945)

I see full reels of components on the machine you linked to, (these guys are designing around cut tape,) it goes for 2x the target price of this project, and clearly is designed to only serve as a pick & place machine. The beauty of this project is that they are taking a *very* simple, cheap, proven 3D printer carriage design, (the prototype in the video may look bespoke, but it's essentially the same $200-$400 carriage you'll see in many existing 3D printers & CNC routers,) and cleverly modifying it for this transcendent purpose. If you want to "Imagine" something, imagine spending $2k and getting a machine that picks/places, drills, routes and extrudes plastic, just by swapping out the "business end".

Video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43142613)

There's no video to view because people still use technology from the 1990's.

DEATH TO ADOBE FLASH FOR VIDEOS!

This is not as cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43144013)

as the 3D printer at SXSW that uses a Raspberry Pi to print a Bitcoin mining machine, I guess Slashdot just wouldn't be interested in that though.

Those eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43144749)

Dude's probably super-smart and super-nice, but THOSE EYES. Dead eyes. 2 big,vacant orbs floating around. Guy looks like he'd be a serial killer.

For anyone who thinks I'm just kidding, imagine you're down in your pitch dark basement, you pull on a string to turn on a light, and then suddently that face is 2 feet from yours. Tell me that's not frightening.

Feel bad saying this since the guy obviously has worked on hard on his project, but still...

Re:Those eyes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43145035)

Calm, please. The highly likely answer is lack of sleep. Have you ever prepped for a startup going to a convention? I remember some long stretches of no sleep, and it definitely messes with your appearance.

Re:Those eyes (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year and a half ago | (#43145373)

He looked to me like he'd make an excellent Vulcan.

So much cheaper and simpler to use existing (2)

gnu-sucks (561404) | about a year and a half ago | (#43145847)

There's a company called "Batch PCB" that will do small quantities of PCBs for reasonable costs if you don't mind waiting a bit. They just put several designs together onto one PCB, send it off where they are getting a bulk rate, and then cut the boards apart when they are done, and send them out.

The hassle of running a machine like that is really not worth it.

But yes, very interesting and impressive nonetheless.

Sucks (1)

goose-incarnated (1145029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43147239)

The video doesn't actually show the machine in action, only has a talking head explaining what it will do. Waste of time; you can't even tell if the thing works.

"looks LIKE" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43147295)

"The prototype hardware McAlvay had on hand looks -- in fact, is a 3-D printer, "

"looks LIKE --- in fact, IS a 3D printer"

PR much!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43167677)

try getting some sleep! jeeesh. slick setup though... ya just need to get a good 'face' for the company. I would think twice about giving my money to this guy... fortunately, the tech overcomes the fact he can't focus on what he's doing.

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