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Sandy Noble's PolargraphSD Small-Scale Manufacturing

Gareth Halfacree

Even among makers, there's a surprising belief in the gulf between hobbyist manufacturing and a professional product. While it's true that there is a jump to be made between a breadboarded one-off and a shiny printed circuit board, it's not as big a leap as some would have you believe. Our friend Sandy Noble proves that admirably in his write-up of the manufacture of his PolargraphSD. While the PCB is professionally printed at low cost, the assembly is done completely in-house using readily-available and very cheap parts and accessories. Everything from spreading the solder paste to placing the surface-mount components - originally via tweezers, but now aided with a cheap vacuum pick-up tool - is done by hand, then soldered with a hacked toaster oven similar to the one built by Matt Coates last year. The result: a professional product built on a kitchen table with very few start-up costs, and a great example of where the maker hobby can take you if you choose to pursue it.

Just thought it might be interesting to see the steps that go into making a PolargraphSD. I’m curious about this kind of stuff, and I love work-in-progress pictures. So I assume you do too.

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