Looking at a printed circuit board (PCB), ever wonder how they bend every one of those resistor leads perfectly every time? Depending on how many PCB’s are in a production run, you’d use different tools. For a run of one or two boards, you could always try a pair of pliers and a keen eye, or you could use a plastic lead former. If you’re running a ton of boards at once, a better solution would be a lead forming machine from a company like PEI.
Slots for radial lead resistors run along the length of the high impact ABS plastic former. Each slot is .05″ longer than the next and has radiused edges to make perfect bends without stressing the leads. It can be used to bend the leads of 1/2 watt resistors, 1/4 watt resistors, and diodes.
The lead forming machines, on the other hand, can take a strip of taped axial components and spit out components ready to be stuffed onto a PCB board. The machines cut the leads and bend them to a variety of different shapes depending on what you need. They can be motorized or hand-powered to save some dough.
Pricing for the plastic lead former starts at $5 before shipping. If you don’t have a PCB stuffing house, you probably can’t afford a PEI lead forming machine — if you do run a production house you can’t afford not to have a tool like it.