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Rotational Robot Solder Web Interocitor

Well, not interocitor, but something that dynamically surreptitiously interrupts, holds it there, and, its work having been done, gets out of the way again
  [vote for,

Originally, electronic manufacturing didn't really involve circuit boards. They might have involved a 'board' plane or substrate, with maybe holes in, to hold soldered components, but they could just as easily have used many solder-tags to straddle components between. A lot of valve radios for example didn't have actual circuit boards. The very first bit of electronics I ever made as a very young single- digit-old child was made by following a ladybird book* on making a radio. It used drawing pins pushed into a bit of softboard, and soldering the components between them. From rough memory, it involved a ferrite rod and hand-wound coil, a tuning capacitor, some resistors, two or three germanium transistors (Mullard OC71 and probably OC45), big old germanium diodes, crystal earpiece, or was it a loudspeaker, and some other stuff. I don't know, it was in the 60s. But the important thing here - no circuit board.

At the moment, you can solder components to a circuit board, on a fairly large scale, and machines can solder smaller components to a smaller circuit board, on, yes, a smaller scale. You can use veroboard (or stripboard if you order the horrible stuff from china) or you can make your own pcb. Surprisingly it still isn't as easy as I think it should be to make a pcb even in these 'maker' (pfffphh) days.

Well, 3D printing? Forget those ludicrous laminations. Yes - robots to the rescue!

Imagine a robot that could hold a pair of components in close proximity. Imagine also that the holding jaws or mandibles or grippers had rotational capability, but further than that, orbital capability, such that they could hold a pair of components and a further soldering limb could apply molten solder to one component solder land while it was held in such a position that the solder drips slightly downward, and then rotates as the solder stream slightly solidifies, to angle or mutate the direction of the solder flow, and meet up with the other component solder land, all very quickly and accurately. There wouldn't be much requirement to leave very long strands between components, and solder doesn't have the strength anyway. The connections between components only need be short enough to bridge components and leave room for the other components in the circuit assembly.

The advantages of this are that the circuit assemblage can be considerably more '3D' than they are at present - most circuits are laid out on a plane, because that's the way we design a PCB, and that, because that's the way we design a circuit diagram. I imagine this idea using SMD (or MELF**), but of course, such surface mount devices are no longer mounting on a surface as such - this is surfaceless.

I suspect solder bridges or solder streamers alone might not be the answer, though - I think it might be necessary to 'tig' actual solid wire between the component lands to establish a 'shape', then return to flow proper joints at each component land / wire end junction. However, the wires can be positioned in a 3D space freely, and of course, be bent to optimise the shape.

It'd be quite superb to see this optimised by AI, such that all you have to do is give the robot the circuit diagram and bins of components and it computationally finds ideal orientations and fits for the circuit, then makes it.

* 0721403247 was the isbn - if you want to search for it
** Most End up Lying on the Floor

Ian Tindale, Mar 24 2017

https://en.m.wikipe...rg/wiki/Interocitor [Ian Tindale, Mar 24 2017]

No PCB! http://www.idea2ic....M13600/LM13700.html
The way the LM13600 operational transconductance amplifier was lashed up as a prototype (with a stereo photo!) [Ian Tindale, Mar 25 2017]


       Yes, but what happens when your circuit is built? How do you put a bird's nest into a nice case?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 24 2017


       I'm not searching for that, looks too much like a premium rate number.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 24 2017

       At high frequecies, the inductance and capacitance of the substrate becomes significant and has to be allowed for. A 3D mesh is going to be a nightmare ...
8th of 7, Mar 24 2017

       You make it sound like a bad thing.
Ian Tindale, Mar 24 2017

       [+] free range circuitry.   

       I don't think solder would cut it : Russian wire wrap perhaps (post wrapped around wires), and the leads need to have springy properties.
FlyingToaster, Mar 24 2017

       So, what happens when the circuit fails, and you (a) can't reach the suspect component with your multimeter probes because of all the spaghetti an and (b) have to unmantle half the circuit to get to it anyway?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 24 2017

       //circuit fails// Embeded easy access to test/bypass points and even little LEDs to light the way. Field embedding is on the way.
wjt, Mar 25 2017

       True, in-circuit testing is more problematic in this scenario. That'll have to be solved. Probably with quantum nanobots.   

       I must say, I'm not a fan of wire-wrap techniques. When that became a bit of a craze in the 70s, the electronics world predicted we'd never solder again, that those days were gone. We still solder, though. My objection to wire-wrap is aesthetic - it is ugly.   

       What I'm describing here is a technologically enabled and enhanced version of the 'Christmas-tree' assembly technique many of us have used at one time or another to lash up a basic prototype of a simple circuit - you just wire the leads of a component together to other leads of other components, in free space. This is almost never used for actual production, but for prototyping it gets you going quickly. Indeed, I remember seeing photos of the prototypes of various ICs made from lashing together other components in christmas-tree form, to establish the connections. Then the real thing can be drawn up and fabricated.   

       What this does, then, is legitimise the christmas-tree approach, and not by using through-the-hole types of components (which are becoming rarer and costlier, while SMD become cheaper and smaller) but surface-mount devices and drawing or forming conductors between them in free space, in three dimensions as opposed to sticking to a flat plane.   

       I suppose disassembly becomes manifold more difficult. I'm tempted to say fuck it, that increasing reliability of SMD components mean a measurably lower incidence of servicing as opposed to whole-unit replacement, but I don't have numbers to back that up.
Ian Tindale, Mar 25 2017

       //It'd be quite superb to see this optimised by AI//   

       "Assuming a maximum ambient temperature of 35 degrees C, and no cooling plane, the size of your circuit will be 30mm cubed. Are you sure Dave ?"
bigsleep, Mar 25 2017

       Another actuator arm could jet a narrow beam of cooling air, which itself might work as a calculatable manipulator by blowing the cooling solder in a direction.   

       I suppose one thing that would improve this idea is to move away from solder to something more like welding tiny rods of welding rod. A fundamental difference between soldering and welding and glueing is that welding involves basically the same material to form the joint as the material we are joining. Hence, plastic welding uses a mixture of the same sort of PVC and / or ABS as the plastic pipes you're welding. Glue is not that, it is a separate material that forms a bond in between the parts. Solder similarly is strictly not welding and almost more glueing, in a way, by the solder being a filler material that melts at a much lower temp than the component leads or terminals (well, hopefully).
Ian Tindale, Mar 25 2017

       Well, OK, [Ian], you've won me round. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 25 2017


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