Opulo saw tremendous growth in 2022. Hundreds of folks all around the globe are now using a LumenPnP to assemble their PCBAs. In 2023, we’re focusing on offering products that do two things:
- move mid-scale manufacturing forward with product improvements
- support the folks that are using current hardware
Here are some changes we’re making to help accomplish these goals.
LumenPnP Price Increase
Accessibility of our hardware is tremendously important to us. The entire point of Opulo’s existence is to help people manufacture their products, and offering our machines at a fair and accessible price point is essential. I frequently think back to my own position in 2019, wishing I had a pick and place to fulfill my Kickstarter rewards but not having the money to buy one.
Unfortunately, persistent supply chain issues have made it more expensive to create a LumenPnP. We don’t want to compromise quality, so we have to increase the price of the machine. Starting on February 1st 2023, the price of the LumenPnP will increase by $250 USD from $1,745 USD to $1,995 USD. We’re letting you know two weeks early so you have time to purchase a machine at the current price before this change goes into effect.
This change means Opulo is much better positioned to handle a looming recession, develop new products, and continue supporting our community and mid-scale manufacturing on the whole. Also, other actions we’re taking this year (expanded on later in this post) will help maintain the accessibility of the LumenPnP, and ensure 2019-era Stephen can still build his Glowties.
One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we’ve received from customer interviews (and our own experience!) is the importance of feeders. Removing the need to manually advance tape removes the single largest need for human interaction when using the machine.
We’re in the middle of validation and lifetime testing of our feeder design, and we’re shooting to have them available for sale by the end of Q1, 2023.
Feeders will launch with only one tape width variant to start: 8mm. This lets us focus on just shipping one product and doing it right, instead of trying to ship many versions at the same time with less attention paid to each one. Also, 8mm tape makes up the vast majority of unique parts in most PCB designs, so this width is also the most useful to ship first.
Along with the 8mm feeder, we’ll also be launching the Feeder Floor Harness. This harness allows feeders to communicate with your LumenPnP. It supports the maximum of 50 feeders that fit on the LumenPnP.
We’ll follow up with three more tape width variants shortly thereafter: 12mm, 16mm, and 24mm. The Feeder Floor Harness will be compatible with these feeder variants as well.
More information including pricing will be available in the coming weeks.
Retiring v2 Kits
In February of 2022 we launched the LumenPnP Kit, which was effectively a box of parts and took anywhere from a day to a few weekends to assemble.
What we’ve learned from dozens of customer interviews is that most folks who need a pick and place machine just want a tool, and not a project. If you’re buying a LumenPnP, chances are that you just want to get it running and assemble your boards and not spend hours tightening bolts. Because of this, we’ve decided to retire the kit version of the LumenPnP.
We understand that removing this version of the LumenPnP will make it less accessible for folks with tighter budgets or those that prefer to build everything themselves. While we can’t continue providing the full kit, we can guide folks on how to source the kit components themselves and provide an easy way to source the most difficult parts- which brings us to our next section:
Individual Parts Now Available
As of today, we now have six of the most difficult to source subassemblies of the LumenPnP available on our store (four of which are brand new). These are:
- Toolhead Assembly
- 6-Piece CP40 Nozzle Tip Set
- Vacuum Pump and Valve Set
- USB Camera Set
- V3 PCB Kit
- Staging Plate
We’ve always had an open source Bill of Materials with purchase links available on the LumenPnP GitHub repository, but some of the items are hard to source or expensive in small quantities. We want to make sure individual builders and hobbyists are able to easily get the parts they need to build or modify their own machine, especially with LumenPnP v2 Kits being retired. The rest of the components are easily sourced locally or printed on any modern FDM 3D printer. We currently have detailed instructions for building a v2 LumenPnP from scratch, but we are looking into making these instructions for the v3 LumenPnP so individual builders have a guide for the most recent hardware.
We are also launching instructions for v2 owners to upgrade their machine to a dual nozzle configuration. After the announcement of v3, many early customers asked for an upgrade path for their machine. These parts being available in conjunction with the upgrade instructions makes it much easier to upgrade your v2 to a dual nozzle machine.
2022 was a huge year for mid-scale manufacturing. An accessible, useful, open source pick and place machine is available for individuals and companies to assemble their boards in-house. Dozens of feeder designs and machine modifications have entered the fray. We are constantly moving closer to a fully open source, mid-scale electronics manufacturing line.
Hardware is expensive, and it costs a lot of money to continue to develop and distribute these tools. Your support by buying a LumenPnP lets us focus on building the next piece of the mid-scale SMT line.
Thank you for supporting open source. Here’s to another year of picking and placing!
Founder and CEO, Opulo