Details about Digi-Reels

Digi-Reels - What they are, why they’re helpful and how to identify them




The official Digi-Key definition of a Digi-Reel is as follows:

A Digi-Reel® is a custom quantity reel of continuous cut-tape made from a manufacturer’s reel. An 18 inch leader and trailer are attached so that the sprocket holes are aligned enabling direct and flawless feeding into automated board assembly equipment and then rewound on to a plastic reel according to Electronics Industries Alliance (EIA) standards. In most instances we can assemble this item specifically for your order and ship it the same day. We will contact you if we are unable to fulfill your order.

Let’s shine some light on what this really means and what they look like beyond the textual definition.

Let’s start with the very beginning. Reeled products are typically shipped to Digi-Key in manufacturer packaging. For example, Yageo’s RC0402FR-071KL is shipped to us in large 10,000 piece reels. We then ‘break down’ this manufacturer packaging by cutting up these factory sized reels into smaller quantities for your order.

A Digi-Reel is a value add process by adding a leader and trailer to cut tape. This is especially helpful to customers who use a pick and place machine to build boards but do not have the usage to warrant a full factory sized reels.

The Digi-Reel will be composed of an appropriate sized reel, two blank cut tapes (for use as a leader and a trailer) and the strip of cut tape components. They are connected to the cut tape strip of components by means of a brass shim and yellow tape before and after the component strip.

Example of the joint between leader and component strip:

Example of Brass Shim giving structural strength to the backside of the strip assembly:

Some Commonly Asked Questions:

How Can I identify a Digi-Reel by a Digi-Key part number?
A: The part number should be identifiable by a -6-ND or a DKR-ND suffix. For more on Digi-Key part number structure, see this TechForum post: What do the Digi-Key suffixes TR, CT, DKR, and ND mean?

Can all cut tape parts be put on Digi-Reels?
A: Some ‘taped’ items such as contacts are not available for Digi-Reels because there is no actual cut tape paper/plastic to attach leaders or trailers. If there is a part in question, contact Digi-Key and we can check to see if we can do the value add process for you.

How long is the leader and trailer? What is the leader and trailer made out of?
A: 18 inches. They are blank cut tape strips similar to the manufacturer’s packaging.

Can Digi-Reels be made on static sensitive cut tape strips?
A: Yes.

Are Digi-Reels wound a certain way on the reels?
A: Yes. With the holes of the Digi-Reel facing you, the sprocket holes will also be in the same position. Tape will unwind in a clockwise fashion.

Are you looking for Media Transfer Services?

If you’re in need of transferring products from one type of packaging such as tube or tray into taped packaging, we offer that service too! See the Media Transfer TechForum Post for further details.

More Value Add Services that Digi-Key offers can be viewed in the Product Services Page.


Do Digi-Reel orders ship the same day like ct tape orders do?

Hello @BobKruse,

Yes our Digi-Reels ship same day (providing stock of course) just like our cut tape product.




Do the diameters of the plastic reels follow some sort of standard? Or does it depend on part?

I’m afraid I know very little about digireels. I’ve never bought them myself. I was just wondering if it would make it easier for my board repair house, if I bought the parts on reels instead of cut tape.

Hi Bob,

Digi-Reels vs. Cut Tape are a personal preference for various assembly houses.

It’s a good idea to have those kinds of conversations with them as keeping their overhead down often translates to the cost of the job down, which can add up during small runs, and some have requirements/guidelines.

Many assembly houses very much appreciate the value added service a Digi-Reel provides, some prefer full reels to keep on hand for the job, and some that work with cut tape or just need a few extra parts purchased to be sacrificed as the leader itself, as this is often done with components that cost a fraction of a penny.


Diameter will vary based on part and quantity. Most components and quantities are able to be placed on 7’’ “mini-reels” otherwise if they do not fit they will be placed on larger reels. If you need a specific reel size/diameter, specify in the order notes when ordering a Digi-Reel. Please see below regarding various reel sizes and info:


I got Questions about Digi-Reels, today.

  1. How much length (cm or inch) is the blank part?(The very beginning part of the tape)

Customer was asking list of the multiple parts (Mostly chip parts. resistor capacitors and IC).

Which packages were

  • X5R

  • X7T

  • 0201 (0603 Metric)

  • 8-XFBGA, DSBGA (as TI package 8-DSBGA, 8-WCSP (1.9x0.9))

  • 6-XFBGA、DSBGA (as TI package 6-DSBGA、6-WCSP(1.4x0.9)

  • Molex 504622-3012

So, other questions are

  1. Is blank part has some kind of Digi-Key standard or rules?
  2. if so, Is that Certain standard length would change depending on package size? (I hope same length…)
  3. if so, Can I have a chart for it?

Sorry, about too detailed question.

But Customer always like this region where I’m at.
(nothing like Sleepy time down South…eh la bas!)

Can you let us know about the details?

Thank you so much for your patience.

Hi @Matsumura_9111,

The important factor is the width and thickness of the tape. For example: 8mm-wide cut tape will be matched with a 8mm blank strip. It ultimately comes down to matching the physical dimensions of the tape.

Length will always stay the same regardless of the width/pitch of the part. That length is approximately 18 inches (45.7cm). We follow the EIA standards for reeling procedures.

In the photo examples provided in the original post:

  • the black ESD tape had no pockets at all.
  • The “standard” white cardboard tape with parts had a 4mm pitch. It was matched with a 2mm pitch tape because of thickness (the 4mm pitch blank tape was too thin but a 2mm pitch blank tape was the right thickness for this particular set of parts).
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Additional note, if the part is cut-tape, it will not have any leader on it.

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Hi, quick question.
Let’s say I order 2 different components, but similar to the naked eye (like same size ceramic capacitors, with different capacitance, for example) how would I know which is which in a digi-reel? Is there some sort of identifier?


Hi @nunoets, welcome to the forum.

There is a label on the front of the reel that lists the part number and quantity.

Hello, can parts offered in tubes be customized into reel packaging at DK?


Sorry, We can do this however you would need to e-mail
You will need to provide the item number and the quantity you would like to be transferred.

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got it, thanks…


I need a custom reel of LM301H LEDs. Instead of single LEDs making up the reel, I need double at a specific width.

Can this be done ?


That would be considered a media transfer since it’s a little more manual labor than simply adding a leader or trailer onto the factory packaging.

The good news is that we do offer that service, you can read about it here and how to request a quote: Digi-Key Value Add Capabilities > Media Transfers.

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See also:

@Ryan_2724 I read your article on reel sizes, which was helpful but did not address a core question: is there a way to see from a product listing what the width of the reel or Digi-Reel will be?

I am looking to order feeders for a PNP machine, and they have both 8mm and 12mm feeders available, as well as trays for larger widths.

The feeders aren’t cheap, so I’d like to be able to sort my BOM into tape widths so I know what size of feeders to purchase. I am worried that I won’t actually know until the reels arrive, which is a very chicken/egg scenario. Since I cannot be the first person to wonder this, I am here to learn!

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