What is RapidStencil Accurate solder paste printer

Introducing RapidStencil, the fastest, easiest and most cost-effective solder paste stencil printer for prototyping and small production batches

  • Apply solder paste to your PCBs in a few seconds. Our user-friendly design results in fast, easy handling of PCBs and stencils.
  • The most cost effective way to get accurate, reliable and repeatable results for SMT applications.
  • Save time and money by eliminating printing defects and board failures.
RapidStencil is a specially designed product and method to manually apply solder paste to PCBs – accurately and repeatedly. RapidStencil aligns your PCB and stencil, so you can apply solder paste quickly and efficiently.
  • Solder paste printing made easy. RapidStencil has 4 bands of holes. The inner top and bottom bands (abcd, wxyz) have smaller holes used to align RapidStencil with the PCB. The outer top and bottom bands (ABCD, WXYZ) have larger holes used to align RapidStencil with the stencil. Special metal pins are provided to keep everything together.
  • Accurate, fast, repeatable results. RapidStencil perfectly aligns your PCB and stencil so you can finally eliminate printing defects and board failures. For even more support, you can glue 3 RapidStencil together. Additionally, the smaller PCB pins will not protrude over the stencil, making applying solder paste a breeze.
  • Two RapidStencil Sizes. Choose from our nominal 10x10 size for common 10x10 cm PCBs or our nominal 20x20 size for larger boards. These are nominal sizes, so they can take 20% bigger PCBs. The specifications are listed in our FAQ.
  • Two RapidStencil Designs. Choose from our simple or advanced system. The simple system relies on you lifting up the stencil, while the advanced system has spring loaded pins soldered in its corners to help you lift the stencil accurately. While your hand is all that’s required to keep the stencil down, our advanced system includes some weights to make the process even easier.

RapidStencil Solves the Challenges of Solder Paste Printing

You've spent countless hours soldering all of those SMD components on your latest prototypes or small production batches, and we feel your pain. These tiny components are more difficult to solder by hand -- and if you find yourself with more than a few prototypes to assemble -- you've searched for a more efficient way to get those components on your board and most likely are already using solder paste stenciling. The process seems simple:

  • Accurately position the SMT stencils and the PCB board.
  • Evenly apply solder paste while keeping the stencil and PCB tightly aligned .
  • Remove the stencil and place the SMD components.
However, in practice, solder paste can be very difficult to work with, and a majority of all surface mount manufacturing defects are caused by errors in the printing process. This costs you time, money and frustration. This is why we developed RapidStencil.

Hand Stenciling

This is the simplest way that almost all of us used, when we first started using stencils. There are various YouTube videos demonstrating this method in detail. While there are different techniques, all of them eventually result in the following process:

  • Manually aligning the stencil and the PCB board.
  • Keeping the stencil and PCB aligned during solder paste application and during stencil removal.
  • Ensuring that you don’t disturb the paste below while you are doing all this -- this often involves simple jigs using other PCBs and/or masking tape to keep everything in place.
  • Wiping everything clean with alcohol and starting all over again if you make any mistakes, which are common.
Unfortunately, hand stenciling requires great effort and time to ensure accuracy and repeatability across multiple PCBs. Spending 10 minutes or more to accurately apply solder paste to a single PCB by hand happens quite frequently.

Cheap Chinese Stencil Printer

Stencil printers from China (like the one pictured) are available from Amazon, Ebay and other retailers for $700 or more.

Because these devices require that every single PCB perfectly aligns with the stencil for each print based on how the fixture held the first PCB, many people find them unreliable. After just a few prints, the settings are off and you'll need to calibrate all over again. Spending 20 minutes to recalibrate after a few paste applications is common.

These devices also require framed stencils, which are $20-$30 more expensive, heavier cost more to ship and more difficult to acquire and work with. Finally, these devices themselves typically are heavy, bulky and require a lot of work space.

Spending 20 minutes to calibrate is common and after a few paste applications you will need to recalibrate again. Some people have bought them only to give them away later.

Used or New Semi or Fully Automatic Printers

Higher-quality semi- and fully-automatic printers suitable for full production usually cost more than $10,000 new or more than $5,000 used. While these devices provide more accurate results, this initial investment and the related maintenance costs are beyond the scope of most people interested in prototyping of small production batches.

As a result, if you require a more cost-effective approach to solder paste printing that results in the same level of accuracy and sub 20 second solder paste cycles, then look no further than RapidStencil.