A feeding mechanism and method for feeding minute items, such as capacitors, resistors, or solder preforms. The mechanism is adapted to receive a plurality of the randomly-positioned and randomly-oriented extremely small or minute items, and to isolate, orient, and position the items in a specific repeatable pickup location wherefrom they may be removed for use by, for example, a computer-controlled automated assembly machine. The mechanism comprises a sliding shelf adapted to receive and support the items; a wiper arm adapted to achieve a single even layer of the items; and a pushing arm adapted to push the items into the pickup location. The mechanism can be adapted for providing the items with a more exact orientation, and can also be adapted for use in a liquid environment.
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The present invention was developed with support from the U.S. government under Contract No. DE-AC04-01AL66850 with the U.S. Department of Energy. Accordingly, the U.S. government has certain rights in the present invention.