Sometime when you want to place a SMD component on a PCB you can use a handy vacuum pump. I’ve tried different low cost model from AliExpress this summer and this post will tell you what is looking best to me for my use.
First of all, I’m not using this tool for components like small resistor, I prefer tweezers for such components. I’m using a handy vacuum pump for larger components like QPF, TSSOP, SOP, QFN…
I’ve tried 3 different tools from AliExpress from 1$ to 9$
From this test, the result may not be fully surprising, the cheapest one did not gave me a good experience :
This tool cost me 2€ with transportation. It comes with 3 different heads. Even the smallest one if for large components. The metallic body does not offer a good touch. The vacuum is working correctly something like 75% of the time. You have no choice for the head angle as only one is provided. The head of this tool is in metal, all the others are in plastic.
The second tool is the pocket tool I’ve payed 1,5€ port included to get it. It’s at end the less expensive.
This one is really small like 7cm long. The touch is nice, fully plastic. You directly push the vacuum system and can directly control the pressure. It is provided with 4 different heads and two of them are really small. This allows to use it with small components like SOP8.
The main issue is the lack of rigidity of the tool. This is a problem for capturing a SMD component as you need to put pressure on the component to avoid air to enter. With a 45° head and body not rigid the only way is to use your two hands. With the straight head it is working better.
The last tool is my preferred one is cost me a little less than 9€. You can find it here.
It really looks like the first one but the finishing is really better : the plastic touch is good, the vacuum button is larger and feel better. The tool is provided with 3 heads offering different angle. The size of the different seals are large, this is the only pain point. From the 3 this is the one I regularly use to position my SMD components.
All the heads & seal are fully compatible between these different tools so you can make your own mix if you order multiple one.
Tips : if you want to easily grab SMD components with a such tool, you need to add some humidity on the seal.