Open source Index PnP project

Is anyone here currently building, or planning to build Stephen Hawes’ impressive Index PnP?

I’d really like to build one, but I’m just waiting until the design settles down a little more. I think the project is getting really close. If you haven’t seen them, he has a series of entertaining videos documenting the design process:

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I am interested in building a PnP machine. More for the challenge of it than anything else but also to incorporate any needed features into the next addition to my grblHAL breakout board line.

2 places where this sort of thing is discussed - you may already know these:
EEVBlog manufacturing sub forum
Open PnP group

I’m entirely on the same page - very interested if and when it stabilizes.
I’m in no hurry though, as I currently don’t have the space.

To pre-empt the discussion whether it makes sense: I’m fairly sure it doesn’t make economical sense to do so. But I love the idea of relative independence and looking at the collapse of quick, easy and cheap international services it is something I’m increasingly interested in.

I don’t need 0201 or the like on 8 layer boards - rather build a prototype on 0805 on 2 layer boards and iterate out errors quickly until I arrive at a final design. Then, maybe, I’d want to shrink the design for mass manufacturing.

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I sure hope cheap/international assembly doesn’t go away. That would probably be due to a collapse of the global economy but we are living in unpredictable times.

I learned the hard way to always prototype with easier packages first. Reworking tight 402 and 603 placement is possible but truly not fun for me. There should probably be a thread on prototyping best practices.

For what it’s worth, I watched a few of Hawes videos. OK in small doses and a relatively low SNR. Not looking to be entertained, just informed. Guess I don’t need to see lots of hand soldering of parts.

I’m the same, very small runs (under 100) of boards with 0805 parts. Currently hand-placed because even the very cheap Chinese assembly options are too expensive. Although it would be fantastic to design something that was popular enough to have 1000+ assembled commercially :partying_face:

I also wonder if there will be a market for selling very low volume assembly services? A bit like the early days of 3d printing, a local hobbyist with a PnP could offer 1-100 boards assembled cheaper than commercial services, and with quicker delivery? Not sure how it would work with components though. I guess it would have to be a mixture of holding stock of a small number of very common parts, and then supply of the rest by the customer?

I don’t know about offering services. I would never want that headache, because by definition the people you’re dealing with think differently than me. I am not going to fret over the odd misplacement here and there, someone who pays you definitely will.
So I’m budgeting time and resources only for private use. If I need income to pay for it, I just won’t do it.

If you want to run a business, don’t do it with a homebuilt machine. Even the low end Neodens and such are simply not good enough for production demands. Reliability is super important, every time you miss a deadline because of a broken PnP machine, your reputation takes a hit.