In 2019, I did a Kickstarter for a project I called the Glowtie, a light-up bowtie you control using Wifi. I ended up spending nights and weekends soldering literally thousands of electrical components by hand. 3D printing and finishing the plastic parts in the build took hours and was hard to manage. In the end I made them all, but the whole experience was quite discouraging. It’s a huge pain and time commitment to make a product at small scale, and I wanted to find a better way.
I looked into having boards assembled for me at board shops domestic and overseas, but was put off by the high-cost per part, and unfortunate anecdotes from friends struggling to manage production from afar. I also looked into purchasing my own Pick and Place (a machine that places the components on the bare PCB for you), but was met with price tags upwards of $100K USD. Instead, I decided to build the LumenPnP.
The LumenPnP is an open source pick and place machine. This is the first machine I’m building to help enable mid-scale manufacturing for folks looking to start moving their prototype into production. By automating the PCB assembly process at home, you can greatly reduce the cost for smaller runs of product, and you can own the manufacturing process yourself, ensuring things are created to spec and to your standards.
I started prototyping in early 2020, and since then have been making YouTube videos about the R&D process. The project garnered some solid interest through YouTube, amassing 40k+ subscribers on the channel and ~3k members in the Discord server. I founded Opulo in early 2021 with a goal to manufacture the LumenPnP, and bring it to market.