Developer and maker Durucz Béla has built what is to "probably [be] the world's cheapest vacuum tweezers," a clever modification of an off-the-shelf mechanical vacuum pen that makes it considerably more usable for pick and place work.
"Grabbing SMD [Surface Mount Device] parts with a regular tweezer can be hard," Béla explains of the problem the tool is designed to solve. "It can come in contact with solder paste, which makes it sticky, just won’t release! Also tiny parts can be extremely hard to pick up, let's move to a more professional tool: vacuum pickup."
Commercial vacuum pickup tools, f pull a vacuum to suck a part onto the end of a hollow probe and release it once it's in place, are typically expensive; manual suction pens, which use a mechanical bladder to pull the vacuum as you squeeze, are, in Béla's words "a joke, but a good starting point."
The finishing point: low-cost motorized vacuum tweezers, created by mating a cheap pump with those "joke" manual suction pens. "The straight and bent tips (probes) with those rubber pads (cups) are hard to make at home, so first order one of these cheap junks," Béla explains. "One more thing to order: A vacuum pump.
"Reclaim the pen’s head, and 3D print the adapter. The pump should fit perfectly, but the pen head was designed with more tolerance. Glue the head and give power to the pump. Operating is easy: Just use your finger!"