Sneak Peek: Board Forge Pick & Place

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Born out of a collaboration at famed Chicago hackerspace Pumping Station One, Board Forge is a six-person startup developing a prosumer-grade, open-source circuit board assembly robot.

MAKE@SXSW 2013This weekend at SXSW Create, I got a chance to snap a few photos of their prototype version 1.0 while chatting with founder Jeff McAlvay about the democratization of industrial electronics assembly equipment.

“It’s like what happened with 3D printing,” Jeff says. “The first 3D printers were hundred-thousand-dollar industrial machines; soon they’ll be on every desktop.”

Their first prototype is a fully functional vacuum pick-and-place robot. I sat for several minutes, watching it carefully arrange tiny SMD components on a PCB. Their goal is to eventually integrate etching, solder paste application, reflow, and testing functions into the system as well as component placement.

Board Forge | Electronics – from art to part


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan