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Surface Mount Technology Makes for Smooth PCB Assembly

Category: Telan CorporationPublished on 2016 Oct, 13Author

People are often surprised to find that the standard PCB assembly process is actually over thirty years old. Developed in the 1980s, surface mount technology (SMT) has proved so reliable that no process has been yet been found to improve upon it. So what exactly makes surface mount technology such an effective process?


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Photo: Joshua Mormann, Flickr Creative Commons

 

People are often surprised to find that the standard PCB assembly process is actually over thirty years old. Developed in the 1980s, surface mount technology (SMT) has proved so reliable that no process has been yet been found to improve upon it. So what exactly makes surface mount technology such an effective process?

Maryland PCB Assembly Before Surface Mount Technology

Electronics manufacturing was first automated in the 1950s. Prior to that, electronics were assembled by hand using point-to-point construction. Automation made electronics affordable to a wider array of consumers and consequently caused an increase in demand.

 

This led to the creation of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). Circuit boards could now be pre-designed and mass-produced, creating a stable platform to which the other components could be attached. The standard manufacturing process at this time was through-hole technology, which requires holes to be drilled through the board, lowering the strength of the board. It also only allows one side of the board to carry components, and as technology advanced and grew smaller, designers began looking for ways to utilize more space.

 

Surface mount technology took the basic concept of through-hole technology and streamlined it. With the introduction of SMT, circuit boards could be designed to be smaller, faster, and more powerful. While SMT components are not as strong as their through-hole counterparts, they were able to fit into smaller spaces with the help of a solder paste that doubles as glue. This simplified process led to the technology boom of the 80’s and 90’s.

The Surface Mount Process

Modern SMT production is an efficient process that, once set up, practically runs itself. It is comprised of five main steps:

  1. The PCB is produced with circuitry and solder points already in place on both sides of the board.
  2. Screen printing machines deposit solder onto the pads that will join the components to the board.
  3. Pick-and-place machines apply components to the prepared solder points.
  4. Reflow soldering ovens bake the assembled PCBs at precise temperatures to harden the solder to its final state without damaging the components.
  5. Finally, the PCBs are visually and automatically inspected via automated optical inspection (AOI), and defective boards are pulled to repair improperly-bonded components.

The finished boards are then shipped to their final assembly and turned into a complete product.

Telan Corporation: Maryland’s Premier PCB Assembly Service

If you're looking for an experienced PCB assembly service in Maryland, look no farther than Telan Corporation. With over 35 years of experience, we have the capabilities to meet all your assembly needs in a timely manner. Contact us today and let us become your Maryland PCB assembly service of choice!

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