Especially when you are dealing with 0603 and smaller components and solder paste, even fine tweezers can become annoying because of their magnetic properties. I’ve looked at professional suction pick and place tools and noticed that the main parts they consist of can be found in my medical parts tray. A friend has kindly donated me a tiny “single-use” 3V vacuum pump which is used in wound treatment and I’ve decided to use this thing in this project. Fortunately you can buy them on ebay.
Other parts you’ll need is a drip infusion set, a pen or small 6mm pipe and syringe needles with a diameter of your choice. The green and yellow ones work fine for 0603 and smaller. Also you’ll need 2 AA batteries or one 18650 cell with the appropriate holder and a momentary switch to power the pump. The assembly is fairly easy.
The needles are shortened with a dremel, bent to shape and filed flat at the tip with a fine diamond file. You can easily change tips for different component sizes. The device is meant for double-handed operation, since you could be too inprecise on your pick and place hand if you had a switch directly on the pen. So you have the enclosure in the other hand and the pick and place madness can begin. Because the tip is far from air tight the part falls off immediately after you release the trigger. Oftentimes the adhesion to the solder paste on the PCB is even stronger than the suction.
I like attaching the component belts to the bill of materials that I’ve printed out so everything is in perfect order and every step of the process is clear and quick. Errors can be avoided that way.