Automating Circuit Board Assembly



Actuators, ML

Retrofit or OEM:



Factory Automation


Assembling printed circuit boards requires repeatable performance and extremely subtle precision is usually too expensive for educational and small business markets. 


The ML series of linear acutator is equipped with state-of-the-art components for accurate linear positioning; such as a ‘dove-tail’ style carriage comprising 14 plane bearing surfaces for high rigidity and smooth travel, all at a price that is affordable.

Designed over the course of a year with product assistance from expert PBC Linear application engineers, Professor Silverman came up with a working solution. Three PBC Linear ML series mini-actuators assembled in a 12 x 14’’ footprint XYZ system were utilized to automate the surface mount assembly process. Two ML actuators accurately determine XY position while the third moves a vacuum needle part-grabber up and down.

A server was also added to allow rotation of the part. In addition, the gripper assembly is outfitted with a small camera to locate loose parts and give feedback to the user utilizing software designed by Ken Silverman. The camera compares images of assembled circuit boards to identify where all the pieces need to go and signals the gripper to re-align if adjustment is necessary. The system can also be switched over to manual control for special assembly projects.

Circuit Board Assembly Figure 1

Results / ROI

Overall, Professor Silverman was very pleased with the low cost PBC Linear ML solution and its ability to perform the required tasks at hand.