Circuit boards manufactured with Surface Mounting Technologies have revolutionized electronics manufacturing, thanks to their ease of construction and the much higher component density they make possible. SMT construction allows for devices which are smaller, more feature-packed, and (very often) cheaper to produce.
If you've ever wondered how it is that electronic devices can continually shrink in size, Surface Mounting Technologies (SMT) are largely to thank. This continually-evolving set of manufacturing techniques allows electronics to be created which are superior to alternative manufacturing methods in numerous ways.
What makes SMT different is that it allows individual components to be placed directly onto the circuit board, without the need for sending wires through to the other side.
Surface mounted technology (SMT) has grown in popularity over the past few years and has widely replaced through-hole technology. But why is SMT so preferable to through-hole mounting, and can through-hole still be relevant in certain applications? By taking a few moment's to learn about both methods, you'll gain a thorough understanding of the unique characteristics of the two, the key differences between them, and what it is that makes SMT the preferred option.
Over the past several decades, surface mounted technology (SMT) has grown in popularity and has widely replaced through-hole technology. But why is SMT so preferable to through-hole mounting, and can through-hole still be relevant in certain applications? By taking a few moment's to learn about both methods, you'll gain a thorough understanding of the unique characteristics of the two, the key differences between them, and what it is that makes SMT the preferred option.
If you only started working in the electronics industry within the past 30 years, you probably take the advantages of SMT production for granted. For those who have been in the game for awhile, though, it's obvious that the emergence of SMT production has changed the way in which electronic devices can be designed and manufactured. The good news is that SMT processes are only getting better and more fine tuned with every passing year. In this post we will explore what it is that SMT production has already done for the industry and at three of its latest advancements.
How SMT Production Changed the Game
In the beginning, there was point-to-point construction. Before the 1950s, manufacturers had to assemble all products by hand - a very costly and time consuming process. Fortunately, after the invention of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), contract electronic manufacturers were able to pre-design circuit boards and mass-produce them in a way that was faster, cheaper, and more consistent. Originally, all PCB manufacturing was completed via "Through-Hole" technology which required holes to be drilled through each PCB board. Each component then used a small "peg and hole" arrangement as a means of staying in place prior to being secured on the opposite side. Unfortunately, despite being faster and more reliable than manual assembly, Through-Hole technology was still a difficult and tedious process. Additionally, the holes took away some of the board's integrity. Enter: Surface Mounted Technology SMT) production.
SMT built upon the basic concept of Through-Hole technology and made it better. Instead of drilling holes through PCBs, components could be applied via a solder paste. Not only does this lower production costs and reduce the time required to assemble a PCB, but it also enables more components to be placed onto smaller space - a must in the world of compact technology.
Continuous Evolution in SMT Production
SMT manufacturing has continued to evolve and improve since its introduction to the electronics industry in the 1980s, and it will only continue to get better. Here's a closer look at three of the latest advancements in SMT:
1. LED Technology - Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have rapidly becoming more popular within the manufacturing and electronics industry. In fact, LEDs have almost entirely overtaken the bulbs conventionally used for PCBs. But why is this? The number one advantage of LEDs is their smaller size and lower power consumption. When paired with the faster, more time and cost efficient methodologies of SMT, LED lights can help lead to a significant increase in production rates while simultaneously decreasing labor costs. And on top of this, it's a "green" technology. It's a win all around.
2. Soldering Paste
We already know that soldering paste has done wonders for improving the speeds and lowering the costs associated with developing PCB boards for small, compact electronic devices. But even though it has totally altered the landscape of the electronics industry, soldering paste is still improving. Some of the most helpful advancements in this arena include the recent development of fine particle pastes, water soluble pastes, and no clean pastes. These improvements have all worked to help make the manufacturing process easier and more efficient.
3. Increased Speed
Today's consumer market has a need for speed. With Through-Hole technology, PCBs were required to be larger, and therefore slower and less efficient. SMT production methods have allowed for increasingly smaller components to be incorporated into PCBs. In fact, components that manufactures once believed would be impossible to add to a board are now being integrated into electronics with ease. As these components grow more compact and improved soldering pastes can be used to secure them, more components can be added to increasingly smaller PCBs. The benefit here is twofold: First, electronics companies are able to provide their customers with compact, lightweight electronic devices. Secondly, the smaller boards run faster, meeting consumer demands.
Are you taking advantage of SMT production?
There are different approaches to mounting components onto a printed circuit board with each method having its own strengths and weaknesses. This brings up the need of understanding what a given circuit is expected to do hence going for an approach that will bring the best in terms or performance and durability out your circuit.
As the structure of semi conductors became more complex over time, the packaging technology required significant changes in order to offer added utilities and functionalities. To complement the complexity some new forms of packaging for semiconductor integrated circuits were developed, that were classified based on their mounting style.
SMT manufacturers should be aware that there is a tendency for plastic-encapsulated components to hold in moisture. While various steps can be taken to limit the effects of moisture in the environment, it is inevitable that a semiconductor manufacturer or OEM may still experience some of the issues related to trapped moisture. When moisture is trapped in this way, it leads to rapid thermal expansion that can damage equipment and leave an SMT manufacturing task compromised.
- Chinese labor costs are expected to rise at a rate of 13 percent per year through 2015;
- The cost of shipping products around the world is dramatically increasing;
- Distance is making it difficult to design and collaborate on products; and,
- It’s increasingly difficult (and expensive) to protect intellectual property in China.
- Create a more educated workforce that can fill skilled labor gaps and get Americans interested in manufacturing careers at all levels (e.g., assembly, engineering, management, etc.).
- Use automated assembly processes to limit the labor input of production more extensively.
- Help companies evaluate their true total cost of ownership (TCO) to help model the risks and costs of offshoring production.
Topics: electronics manufacturing, contract manufacturing, manufacturing services, contract electronics manufacturing, Zentech technologies, smt manufacturing, total cost of ownership, Reshoring, offshoring, made in america