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?
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.