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SMT Assembly Technology

SMT Assembly Technology

Any piece of commercially manufactured electronic equipment these days is packed with tiny electronics. Instead of utilizing conventional components with wire leads, such as those used in home building and kits, these components are placed directly onto the boards’ surface, and many are very small.

What is Surface Mount Technology?

It is also known as SMT, Its a printed circuit board component installation process in which the components are mounted and linked onto the board’s surface utilizing batch solder-reflow procedures. Part leads are placed into plated through-holes and waves connected from the bottom, to fill in the holes and connect the components. Compared with plated through-hole insertion method, SMT offers the benefits of greater packing densities, better reliability, and lower cost. SMT is presently the most popular method for producing low-cost, high-volume consumer electronic assemblies.

Surface-mount technology is the name of the technique used for manufacturing an SMD. Most of the industry has moved away from using the traditional THT construction method of putting wire leads into holes on the circuit board to insert parts. Both surface mounting and through-hole mounting may be utilized on the same board for components that are not appropriate for surface inserting. Parts of SMT are often small than their through-hole frame since they have fewer or no lead.

Surface mount technology is used in almost all commercially produced equipment today since it provides substantial benefits during PCB manufacturing and allows much more electronics to be packed into a much smaller area due to the lower size of SMT components. Aside from the size, surface mount technology enables automated PCB assembly and soldering, resulting in substantial gains in dependability and significant cost reductions.

It is not necessary for component leads to travel through the board during PCB construction. Instead, soldering components directly to the board is quite acceptable. Consequently, surface mount technology was created, and the usage of SMT components grew quickly as the benefits of SMT components became apparent. In today’s electronics manufacturing, surface mount technology is the most often utilized technique for assembly. SMT components may be manufactured highly tiny, and several kinds, especially SMT capacitors and SMT resistors, are used in the billions.

SMT implementation on a PCB

The surface mount technology is used in the production of printed circuit boards. Surface mount technology refers to the assembly of electronic components by automated devices that put them on the board’s surface. In contrast to traditional PCB components, which are welded to the conductor, surface-mount components (SMT) are placed directly on the PCB surface, as is the case with conventional through-hole processing. When it comes to electronic assembly, SMT is the most widely utilized method in the business. In SMT assembly and production, surface mount technology is nearly entirely utilized. Surface mount technology allows more electrical components to be encapsulated in a small area.

Surface mount components are small and often perform well, and may be used with automated machines that select and place components, which removes the need for human involvement during the assembly process in many cases. Also difficult to install automatically, are the wire components since the wires must be pre-formed to ensure that the holes are spaced properly, and though in that case, there may be problems when the components are placed.

The majority of components on the circuit board are automatically positioned during PC Board fabrication. Some may need human intervention on rare occasions, although this is becoming less common. Some connections and other components have traditionally required supplemental installation, although manual placement is becoming less common. In today’s world, PCBs are frequently built to reduce or remove the issue make adjustments to incorporate parts that can be eventually put into the board.  Furthermore, several surface-mounted versions of components have been developed by component manufacturers, allowing for nearly completely automated production of most circuit boards. Technology using surface mounts PCBs must be selected with care, considering factors such as cost, electronic properties, or TGA (thermal expansion coefficient). During the development of a surface mount board (PCB), the kind of SMD element to be utilized dictates the type of PCB material to be used.

Pros and Cons of SMT

Pros

  • Better signal transmission:

The construction frequency may reach up to 5-5-20 solder joints per square centimeter when the PCB is bonded on both sides which are very high. High-speed signal transmission is possible with SMT printed circuit boards because of their short circuits and low delays.

  • Miniaturization:

Surface mount electrical components have a geometric dimension and volume much less than composite parts with through-holes. In general, through-hole interpolation parts may have their size and volume reduced by 60 percent to 70 percent, and few parts could have their size and volume reduced by 90 percent. Meanwhile, the weight of the components may be reduced by 60-90 percent.

Effect of high density:

The circuit’s distribution parameters are reduced because there are no or few leads on the element.

  • Less expensive materials:

Due to the improved efficiency of manufacturing equipment and lower packaging material usage, most SMT components cost less to package than THT components of the same kind and function. As a result, SMT components have a lower selling price than THT components.

  • Production method and cost:

There is no need to bend, shape, or shorten the components’ lead wires when placed on the Printed Circuit Board, which speeds up the process and increases manufacturing efficiency. The processing cost of the same functional circuit is less than that of through-hole interpolation, which may decrease overall manufacturing costs by 30% to 50%.

Cons

  • Repairs may be more challenging in small spaces.
  • It does not ensure that the solder connection will be able to resist the potting chemicals. When thermal cycling is done, connections may or may not be broken.
  • Although solder melts at high temperatures, components that produce much heat or carry many loads should not be surface-mounted.
  • This implies that parts that directly engage with the client should be physically bound to the hole rather than linked via it.
  • Since solder connections in SMT need less solder, the dependability of solder junctions becomes a source of worry. In this case, the development of voids may result in solder joint failure.
  • Surface-mounted components should not be used for components that produce significant quantities of heat or carry heavy loads because solder melts at high temperatures.
  • The majority of SMT component packages cannot be placed in sockets that allow for the simple installation and replacement of defective parts.

Method of surface mounts assembly

When electronic devices are placed to the surface of a printed circuit board using adhesive, surface mount technology is referred to as surface mount technology. It reflow solders the surface-mount assembly to the plate, essentially welding it together. Several components are selected during the design stage, and the printed circuit board (PCB) is produced using software tools, which prepares the ground for the surface mount assembly process to commence.

Preparation and examination of the materials:

Prepare the SMC and PCB and inspect them for faults. PCBs are often equipped with flat brazing pads, which are generally made of tin-lead, silver, or gold-plated copper and are referred to as pads.

Preparation of the template:

In solder paste printing, the steel mesh is utilized to hold the solder paste in a fixed location. It is manufactured in line with the layout position of the plate on the printed circuit board (PCB).

Print of solder paste:

The solder paste printer is the first piece of equipment to be placed throughout the production process. The purpose of this machine is to put solder paste to the suitable solder plate on the printed circuit board with a template and scraper. SMC and PCB solder pads are connected with solder paste using this method, the most widely used method.

Equipment’ locations:

Following confirmation that the PCB has the appropriate amount of solder applications, the board goes on to the next stage of the production method, which is assembling the parts. A vacuum or clamping nozzle is used to extract each component from the packaging. The visual system then checks the component before putting it at high speed in a preset location.

Inspection of the first component:

When it comes to first assembly or first piece inspection (FAI), subcontractors confront various difficulties, one of which is the time-consuming process of verifying client information. This is an important stage of the process since any mistake, if left undiscovered, may result in a significant amount of rework being required.

Soldering with reflow:

The assembled PCB board is subsequently transferred to the reflow welder for further processing, where it is heated to a suitable degree, allowing all of the electrical connections between the component and the PC Board to be established. This is done by bringing the assembly up to a suitable operating temperature.

Cleaning and Inspection:

After welding, thoroughly clean the board and inspect it for flaws. Rework or fix any flaws, then store the finished object. The most common SMT-related equipment and additional optical testing devices are SPI machines that are capable of being linked to the machine’s location to adjust the component position and connectable SPI machines that may be used to modify PCB alignment layouts when the printer is linked to it.

PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD ASSEMBLY
PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD ASSEMBLY

Written by Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani

Sam Sangani is the President & CEO of PNC Inc., a Nutley, NJ based Printed Circuit Board manufacturer. Sam graduated from L. D. Engineering College with a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also continued his education and graduated from Steven’s Institute of Technology where he acquired a Master’s degree in Computer Science.

After completion of his BS, Sam worked as a QC Manager, for Xerox, Romania and London. He was responsible for the Quality Control of Cable and Wire Harness imports from Romania. After completing his Master’s Degree, he worked as a Senior Programmer with IBM, Tucson, Arizona. Sam was responsible for leading the Mainframe System Programming Team.

In 1997, Sam acquired PNC INC., a Nutley, NJ based PC Board fabrication Shop. From 1997-2013, Sam has made tremendous improvements and changes within PNC INC., as he added many new Products and Technologies in PNC’s portfolio. With his proven track record and leadership, PNC has never had an unprofitable year and has continued its growth yearly since 1997.

His current responsibilities are Strategic Planning, Corporate Management, New Business Ventures, Sales & Marketing, Trade Shows, Professional Services and leading productive teams to achieve peak potential. He has also utilized Lean Management techniques which have built a foundation for PNC’s high-paced growth. Sam also enjoys real-estate investing, web design & SEO, trading stocks, options, futures and Forex markets.

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