PCBGRIP is an electronics assembly system designed to make it easier to assemble and work on electronics. Completely customizable, with open source flexibility, it holds printed circuit boards (PCBs), components, stencils, and everything else you need, improving both the quality and speed of assembly. It solves the challenges of hand electronics assembly faced by hobbyists, makers, and assemblers.
Unlike other products that just hold PCBs, PCBGRIP holds PCBs and everything else. The open source aluminum extrusion and standard 3mm hardware allow you to build and share whatever you need to help you with your electronics project.
When assembling PCBs with through hole components, you need to find a way of holding the component in place when the board is turned over to apply solder to the pad and lead. We progressed from trying to use one hand to hold the component, to taping the components in place, to building dedicated PCB specific jigs. None of these solutions are ideal and comprise the quality, speed, and flexibility required when assembling electronics projects and products. What started out as designing a better way of holding through hole components evolved into PCBGRIP, a complete system that not only holds components exactly where they need to be, but a system that can be customized to hold what you need where you need it, solving the common challenges associated with electronics assembly.
Having hand assembled electronics you will appreciate the challenges of holding everything while you work soldering the components and getting at the work from the correct angle. PCBGRIP's modular design is flexible and simplifies a variety of electronics assembly tasks, including:
- securely holding the PCB while you work on it;
- holding through hole components (even upside down) in place while you solder;
- allowing the project to be rotated, tilted, swung around, or raised/lowered, so you can get at the work;
- holding the surface mount technology (SMT) stencil while applying solder paste to the PCB;
- clamps that hold and align components;
- holds components with alligator clips exactly where needed; and
- open source flexibility allowing you to build and share the parts you need to meet the requirements of your unique electronics project.
Holding Through Hole Components:
SMT Stencil Application:
4 Degrees of Freedom:
System Design and Vision
We have designed each component of PCBGRIP to ensure all the components not only work individually but also in unison. Careful consideration was given to the physical dimensions of one part relative to the other parts and relative hole locations to maximize the number of combinations in which all of the parts can be used together. Most parts have 3mm holes and common M3x0.5 threads. There are countless ways the parts can be connected and used together - limited only by your ingenuity!
The red components in the videos and pictures are CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, anodized, and laser engraved. Hardware will be primarily stainless steel and brass.
The base weighs approximately 900g (2 lb). With the aluminum extrusion supplied, PCBs up to 306mm (12") wide can be held.
With its modular design and open source flexibility, we envision PCBGRIP's offering to continue to grow and solve additional challenges. With your help, PCBGRIP will become the preferred electronics assembly system for hobbyists, makers, and assemblers!
Overview of PCBGRIP parts:
High resolution images and additional photos can be found here.
Open Source Flexibility
Each electronics project is unique and PCBGRIP is flexible enough to solve the challenges of assembling your unique project. The aluminum extrusion we chose to use is OpenBeam, an open source construction system that uses standard 3mm hardware. Using an open source extrusion minimizes the hardware costs while providing a platform by which PCBGRIP can easily be expanded by the community. PCBGRIP users can build and share their own parts and ideas on improving electronics assembly. We envision a community where hobbyists, makers, and assemblers have the flexibility of designing and sharing exactly what they need to help in the assembly of their projects.
The tables below provide details of which part is included in each kit. Kit 500 and Kit 700 include the extra aluminum extrusion and parts required to use PCBGRIP to hold SMT stencils.
If you would like to order multiple rewards, this Excel file will help you calculate the pledge amount.
We have been working on this project for over a year and have invested hundreds of hours and incurred significant expense to get the project to its current state. During the past year we have:
- designed each part and the complete system using 3D CAD software;
- machined our own prototypes using our in house mill and lathe;
- tested our prototypes and modified the designs as required;
- issued a Request For Quote (RFQ) to numerous manufacturing and parts suppliers;
- contacted, negotiated, and met with suppliers, verified references, and ultimately selected suppliers;
- sourced samples, including having our machining supplier manufacture the prototypes seen in this campaign;
- evaluated and tested the products provided by our suppliers; and
- established relationships with shipping companies to ensure the most cost effective and timely method of not only of collecting products from our suppliers, but of distributing rewards to our backers.
Next Steps and Timeline
In order to complete this project, we need your help! We have already sourced manufactures for our parts and received prototypes. There are a lot of parts that make up PCBGRIP and in order to make this project financially feasible, the parts required must be sourced in large volumes. That is where you come in - with your support, we can achieve the volumes required for this project to be a success!
We expect to deliver the rewards starting in June 2014. The summarized project plan is:
Thumb Screw / Nut Note
The M3x0.5 thumb screws and nuts shown in this campaign are off the shelf hardware, allowing us to keep our prototype costs down. The production thumb screws and thumb nuts we have designed will be stainless steel with a slightly different profile than shown above. The knurled part of the screw/nut will have a diameter of 7mm, to ensure the screw/nut does not protrude beyond any part. Just wanted to make sure the backers knew the profile of the thumb screw and thumb nut used in production would be slightly different than shown above.
Risks and challenges
Prior to launching this campaign, we have taken steps to minimize risk. We have completed the design of PCBGRIP, tested it with 3D CAD software, made our own prototypes, selected suppliers via an extensive request for quote (RFQ) process, talked to supplier references, and had suppliers provide us with samples.
Everything is already designed and tested. Common manufacturing techniques are being used to make the parts and samples have been produced. However, there may be unexpected delays in suppliers meeting delivery timelines. We have mitigated these risks by verifying supplier references and having our suppliers produce and deliver samples, adhering to predetermined timelines. We are committed to providing regular updates to backers and in the unlikely event delays do occur, we will be sure to let the backers know and provide clear communication on what is being done to correct it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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