If you have an older electronic design with through-hole components on the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), Rush PCB Inc. recommends it is time for you to consider changing over to Surface Mount Technology (SMT). Not only will this have a direct impact on your manufacturing process in terms of cost and efficiency, but it will enhance the quality and performance of your product as well.
Rush PCB Inc. has prepared a short guide on SMT PCB assembly to help our customers make the right decision and to assure them the change-over will enable their product attain the highest standards.
SMT PCB Assembly
As opposed to manually assembling a PCB with through-hole components, the SMT PCB assembly relies entirely on automated processes. Electronic components available for SMT are too small for manual handling, and therefore, automated production lines are necessary for mounting and soldering these tiny components on the PCB. With the advancement in technology, you can replace almost all through-hole components with their SMT counterparts, and most often, the SMT versions are cheaper.
Moreover, unlike for through-hole components, there is no need of drilling holes through the PCB for mounting SMT components. In addition, unlike single-side mounting for through-hole components, you can use both sides of the PCB for mounting SMT components.
Is My Application Suitable for SMT PCB Assembly?
Although SMT PCB assembly is mainly for mounting small and light components on the PCB, larger and more powerful components are also available in this technology, making it possible to mount a combination of small and large components on your PCB. The absence of through-holes and mounting components through automation means it is possible to achieve substantially high component density. Therefore, you can either expand the functionality of your product keeping the same size, or you can reduce the size while retaining its functionality.
While automation in SMT PCB assembly makes the process significantly quicker, as machines can mount components faster compared to any manual mounting process, it also improves the yield and allows greater uniformity in soldering.
Therefore, if your application uses a small PCB with complex requirements, switching over to the SMT will improve the efficiency of the assembly process. If your focus is on reducing the size of your product, while maintaining or increasing power handling, the SMT PCB assembly is the right direction for you. Almost all products like smartphones, wearables, USB flash drives, portable navigation systems, and medical devices use surface mount technology.
Benefits of SMT PCB Assembly
Changing over to the SMT PCB assembly process holds innumerable benefits for OEMs. Consider some of these benefits when choosing the process for your next project:
Small Dimensions—SMT PCBs can be significantly smaller as surface mount devices (SMDs) are available in tiny packages. The absence of through-holes and use of automated mounting process allows achievement of significantly high component density.
Faster Throughput—Automated SMT assembly process being much faster than manual processes, allows throughput to increase significantly, and with much lower probabilities of error. Therefore, with SMT PCB assembly, it is possible to assemble boards faster, and with greater cost-efficiency.
Highly Flexible—Compared to manual assembly processes, SMT PCB assembly processes are superbly flexible. The automated machines being programmable, can switch from one set of PCB assembly to another in very little time, achieving any mix, and volume with ease. This improves the utilization times of the machines to a great extent.
Consistent Quality—The design and programming of automated machines allows them to perform the same task repeatedly and with consistent accuracy. The SMT PCBs assembled by such machines exhibit consistently high quality.
Mass Production—Because of the above benefits, SMT PCB assembly processes are suitable for mass production. Reduction of time and cost of production allows assembly of boards at higher volumes. Automated processes are much more effective at delivering consistently at higher speeds, yet remaining cost-effective in comparison to manual assembly processes.
Role of CM in SMT PCB Assembly
As a Contract Manufacturing (CM) partner, we help our customers in making the right decision. We study your application, assess the assembly requirements, and make sure you use the most suitable technology.
We understand each product has its own variation, and requires specific handling for both assembly and testing. We train our staff with generic assembly skills necessary to assemble products conforming to specifications, and train them further for the assembly and testing of a particular product.
To further this aim, we work closely with our customers, and produce/construct necessary stencils and other tools to ensure that we assemble the product cost-effectively.
At Rush PCB Inc., we work with customers from a wide range of industries, helping them to build complex and sophisticated products that are of high quality, dependable, and reliable. Our rigorous testing processes ensure our products conform to their intended specifications and functions.
Providing a brief insight into SMT PCB assembly techniques, this short guide from Rush PCB Inc. should help our customers overcome primary inhibitions regarding changing over to SMT. However, there may be additional factors holding you back, and we will be more than happy to help you transition to this wonderful technology.