I'm working on a PCB design with surface mount components to be manufactured by a PCB assembly shop. I'm using CADSTAR, and I had to populate the library with some components, from scratch. I'm new to this, and I want to make sure I'm defining component outlines and origins in such a way that the pick and place machine will match the leads up correctly to the land area.

Consider a specific component, a humidity sensor from Honeywell. As I've defined the component in the CADSTAR library, the placement and silkscreen outlines are identical, while the assembly outline is smaller and is offset (lower) in the y-axis with respect to the other two outlines:

component outlines

Should my component origin be defined at the center of the placement outline, of the assembly outline, or isn't it critical?

I have only the vaguest idea of how the P&P machine works. I understand that there's a camera that detects fiducial marks on the PCB, and so can match coordinates in the design with physical locations on the real PCB. But I'm a little fuzzy on how coordinates in the part definition are matched to a physical point on the part. For example, does the camera detect the outline of the physical package and try to correlate that with one of the outlines (assembly outline? placement outline?) in the part library definition? Does the placement of the component on the reel tape have something to do with it?


1 Answer 1


The IPC-7351 standard defines a coordinate system origin for surface mount parts, as well as a standard orientation. There is a summary of the orientations on the last page of this document: http://landpatterns.ipc.org/IPC-7351BNamingConvention.pdf [Update: archived link], and illustrations in the full standard.

For most surface mount parts:

  • The origin is at the centroid of the part's body
  • The standard orientation is with pin 1 at upper left, except:
    • two-leaded components, where it's to the left
    • components where pin 1 is in the middle of an edge, where it's at top center

The reason for the origin being at the centroid of the part body is that pick and place machines use a suction cup to pick up the part at that point. Orientation on the reel can vary, so you have to tell the machine which way they are rotated when you load the reel.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, Theran. For a rectangular area like the body of my sensor, calculating the centroid is trivial. What about a part with a more complicated outline, like an SD card connector: amphenolcanada.com/ProductSearch/drawings/AC/10100660XXX.pdf How would one calculate this? And is it purely a geometrical question, or does the distribution of mass play a role? \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Oct 18, 2012 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a drawing of that part on its reel available? Sometimes with connectors there's no good place to pick it up, so the manufacturer adds a little circle of tape for the machine to pick up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theran
    Oct 18, 2012 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that I'm aware of. For now I'm just using the centroid of the bounding box. We'll see what the pcb shop says. \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Oct 18, 2012 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ The original ipc-7351 link is not working and I could not find a working link other than the table of contents. However, this overview of ipc-7351B vs C (upcoming version) is interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – djvg
    Apr 11, 2019 at 11:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe this could replace obsolite link: cxem.net/comp/files/… \$\endgroup\$
    – mitjajez
    Dec 31, 2020 at 23:40

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