Importance of Tape and Reel Specs?

Although most tape and reels are suiting to the type of components, and usually safe to overlook, they can vary in some specs and sometimes be of concern. This is important when it comes time to place them on a pick-n-place or SMT(surface mount technology) machine as certain part types and sizes may have to be on certain machines. As you will see, this can also affect efficiency of placement.

Width:
Width of the reel, some SMT machines can only handle reels up to a certain width. Common reel widths are 4mm, 8mm, 12mm, 16mm, 24mm and wider.

Diameter:
Diameter of the reel, commonly referred to as “reel size” is the diameter of the reel. Similar to the width, some SMT machines can only handle reels up to a certain diameter. Reels are commonly 7’’, 13’’ or larger. Although typically not as important of a specification, some machines or subsets of a machine can only handle miniature reels (7’’ diameters).

Pitch:
Pitch of the tape on the reel, sometimes referred to “the advance” if referring to the pitch from part to part. This spec is typically irrelevant, as most modern machines can adjust for this. This will have to be adjusted in the SMT program when changing part advances unless the part feeders have auto advance detect sensory.

Paper Vs Emboss:
Paper is a thin pressed cardboard like material, where emboss is a very thin plastic type material. Component feeders usually are able to accommodate either one.

**For highly efficient pick-n-place processes, various reel widths and different part advances will be strategically placed in the machine as a way to make the process more efficient, saving time the parts are placed on the board.
Saving a micro second per part placement will add up when placing thousands or millions of parts per day.

For more information on carrier tape types, see below:
https://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/611487O/choosing-carrier-and-cover-tape.pdf