If you have any experience working with printed circuit boards (PCBs), then you know how utterly frustrating things can get. Sometimes technicians wish that they could have eight arms just like an octopus, in order to hold everything in place while placing or analyzing specific electronic components. Unfortunately we are all humans, and we only have two hands to work with.
For one man named Giuseppe Finizia, who works in the Scientific Investigations Department of the Carabinieri — Italian military police, he had become fed up with the frustration that came with performing technical assessments on a circuit board. He decided it was time to come up with a solution, and that he did, with the help of a 3D printer.
“I am the senior analyst of the Electronic Forensics Unit and I deal with technical investigations on electronic devices,” Finizia tells 3DPrint.com. “So I spend almost all day in a well equipped electronic laboratory. However, very often I felt the need of a tool on which I could place a printed circuit board to perform technical assessments, such as acquire data from a circuit memory, or analyze a I2C or SPI communication bus using a logic state analyzer, and much more. In all these cases, until now I had to use the usual “third hand” tool, but then I decided to create a specific tool for my needs.”
The third hand is actually exactly what it sounds like. It is a tool that essentially provides a third appendage for holding components. This was not enough for Finizia though, so he designed what he calls the “PCB Workstation with Articulated Arms“. This device, allows him to now connect lab instruments up to individual components which can then be analyzed on the PCB using the workstation’s multiple articulated arms. These arms, as you can see in the photos, guarantee that there is a stable connection made between the electronic cables and the single pins.
To create this unique device, Finizia used MOI 3D to model the individual parts. It’s a software that he prefers because of its ease of use and powerful tools.
“I used my ZORTRAX M200 [3D printer] which is very accurate and has a high printing resolution [to create the parts],” Finizia tells us. “I used Zortrax Z-HIPS filaments because they are less subject to warping, so the base of my tool can stay very stable on the bench.”
The elements of the articulated arms are designed in a way to accommodate different types of accessories, including:
- Alligator Clips
- IC Hook Clip Grabbers
- Micro SMD Grabber Test Clips
Finizia plans to release more attachments for other accessories in the near future. Complete instructions on 3D printing and assembling this device can be found on Thingiverse, where the files are entirely free to download.
What do you think about this unique 3D printed device? Discuss in the PCB Workstation with Articulated Arms forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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