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SMT Assembly Market Set for Significant Growth

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 10:14:22 AM Asia/Shanghai

Surface mount assembly is a form of surface mount technology (SMT). It is a method of electronic circuit production where components are placed directly on the surface of a printed circuit board. This technology has replaced the earlier method of wiring components to a circuit board through holes in the board.

As a result, the circuit board is smaller than before as it has fewer or no leads. Instead, it connects with other parts of an electronic device through a series of pins, contacts and solder balls.

The equipment used in surface mount assembly consists of robotic machines that are often called pick and place machines. These work at high speed to place resistors, capacitors and other components on the circuit board. The equipment carries out its work according to specific pre-programmed tasks.

The software required to operate these machines has become one of the fastest-growing segments within the surface mount assembly market.

The reason for this market surge lies in attempts over recent years by manufacturing industries to streamline their operations. Rising costs of skilled labor as well as rising energy costs have meant that the manufacturing sector has had to eliminate those operations that were not deemed to have added value, and has had to redefine and optimize other shop-floor processes.

The increasing automation of shop-floor processes has led to a greater demand for surface mount assembly equipment. This has coincided with a drive for efficiency and miniaturisation in the medical, electronic, defense and aerospace industries that has also increase demand for smaller electronic devices and hence surface mount assembly equipment.

The emphasis on product quality has led to a further demand for surface mount technology inspection equipment. This not only reduced repair and reworking costs, but also maintained quality control throughout the production process.

Continuing technological advancement along with burgeoning demand from emerging and developed economies recovering from the 2007-8 financial crisis and recession have contributed to the ongoing growth. The market in Asia has been boosted by a resurgence of demand from China. The health care and automotive industries in particular are likely to boost this market to a global value of US $11.7 billion worldwide by 2017.

The surface mount technology market has become intensely competitive. The problem for new entrants into this market could be financing high upfront research expenditure.

 

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

 

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

The Impact of Copper Dissolution on PTH Assembly

Friday, August 26, 2016 11:23:06 AM Asia/Shanghai

Plated through-hole - also called thru-hole - assembly, or PTH assembly, provides a method for a connection between printed circuit board (PTH) rack layers.

The principle is to drill or punch holes through the board and then plate, or metallise, them. This is a more expensive method for binding circuit board components than in straightforward surface-mounted technology (SMT), but the binds are mechanically far stronger.

The main advantage of PTH assembly over SMT technology is that, in the latter case, the soldered joints will tend to contract over long periods of time. This is an especially difficult problem in large capacitors and electrical installations such as those used in power generation that may be subject to large mechanical stresses.

PTH assembly faces a number of critical reliability factors. The circuit board material and thickness will determine the power and speed of the drilling machine used to create the holes. If the drilling speed is too great, it could cause rough edges around the holes or a breakdown of the drilling bit.

However, like SMT technology, PTH assembly still has to use solder. Since lead-free tin-copper alloys were introduced into electronic circuitry, copper dissolution has become a major issue in the bonds as well as in the hole plating.

Copper dissolution is a normal phenomenon that occurs on the contact of copper plating with molten tin-rich solder. The copper plating effectively dissolves into the solder. This dissolution is a necessary process for the creation of solder joints.

The dissolution process becomes stronger when there is a greater proportion of tin in the lead-free solder alloy. Copper dissolution is also affected by other variables in the thru-hole assembly process such as the pre-heat temperature of the board and the contact time between the copper plating and the flow rate of the solder fountain. The most susceptible part of the assembly is at the knee of the through hole.

The addition of nickel, silver, antimony, germanium and bismuth to the solder alloy to allow a reduction in the tin content helps to slow the copper dissolution process. However, experts say that while this process may work initially, it will not prevent copper dissolution during any reworking process.

The real solution to this dilemma is a new reworking process for thru-hole assemblies, but this still awaits development.

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

 

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

Automation Cuts Costs of Surface Mount Assembly

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:56:46 AM Asia/Shanghai

Growing demand for smaller and cheaper electronic devices has meant that assembly-line managers face a challenge in bringing down costs. One of the major costs has been the manual testing of printed circuit board assemblies.

Manufacturers have adopted a new strategy of bringing down labor costs by replacing the manual testing with a variety of automatic systems. Some of these have been more successful than others.

One of the most popular solutions has been to replace the manual labor with a robotic arm, while another is an automated inline circuit tester for surface mount assembly.

In this first system, the robotic arm loads the printed circuit board assembly on to the circuit tester. Once loaded, a top cover on the fixture closes automatically and starts scanning. The problem here has been that if the board is misplaced on the tester, it can be damaged by the misalignment. So an operator has to be on hand to adjust the placement manually.

The top cover is pneumatic and also uses a vacuum to ensure that the circuit board is in firm contact with the line. This makes for a very heavy system with a long set-up time.

In addition to the obvious extra labor costs this system entails, the operator is also in danger of being injured by any automatic closing of the top cover. The robotic system also took up more space than the original manual system.

There are also potential human-error problems with the automated inline circuit testing system. The circuit board is carried by a conveyor to the inline testing handler, where a scanner reads the board's bar code. If this is accepted, testing proceeds and the board moves on to the next station on the surface mount assembly line.

This system occupies very little space and is light and easy to assemble. Unlike the robotic arm, it does not require constant supervision by an operator. The problems begin if for any reason the inline circuit tester breaks down. This means that operators must remove all the circuit boards scheduled for testing so that the production operations are not disrupted or the testing procedure has to be bypassed altogether.

However, manufacturers conclude that the automated systems do represent considerable cost savings. The bulk of the costs are in the initial capital investment in equipment.

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

Flux Corrosion Issues in SMT Assembly

Monday, August 22, 2016 1:49:48 PM Asia/Shanghai

Flux corrosion is one of the most common reasons why a customer may reject an SMT assembly product or why the product does not function at all. The important matter is to understand how flux corrosion occurs and to choose the correct flux products for SMT assembly.

Surface mount technology, or SMT assembly, is a process of securing components to a printed circuit board. Soldering is a method of controlling how one metal dissolves into another to form a firm intermetallic bond. The surface of each metal should be free of contamination in particular oxides of any of the metals used. Flux functions as a cleaning and flowing agent by reacting with the metal oxides to produce a clean, oxide- and oil-free surface for the metals to bond.

There are four main types of flux: inorganic acids, organic acids, rosin and no-clean fluxes. Highly corrosive inorganic fluxes are rarely used these days in electronics assembly. Organic fluxes are weaker than inorganic fluxes but environmentally better and stronger than rosin fluxes. However, they are not as tacky as the rosin fluxes. Tackiness is necessary for a solder paste to prevent any movement of the component during its placement.

Rosin flux is made from pine resin and a mixture of organic acids. It dissolves thin oxide layers on the metal. No-clean fluxes are the cutting-edge soldering technology and leave no residue after soldering that requires cleaning or any tacky residue that may attract dust.

Flux corrosion occurs in two main processes. It can be a chemical reaction, where a metal reacts into another compound, or an electrolytic process, when one metal in the solder corrodes faster than another when in the presence of an electrolyte.

Even the new no-clean fluxes have corrosion concerns. The most common effect is when too much of the flux is applied and residues from it are not volatized adequately during soldering. Remaining acids may attack any exposed metals such as copper in the printed circuit board and cause short circuits on the board. Sometimes, a weak flux may react in an unexpected manner when placed on the board.

Flux selection should be made on the basis of recognised industry standards. Users should not rely on data sheets that may be many years old. Most importantly, all stages of the soldering process during SMT assembly should be controlled.

 

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

PTH Assembly–An Old Technology with New Uses

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 11:07:50 AM Asia/Shanghai

What Is Pin-Through-Hole (PTH) Assembly?

PTH assembly is the oldest form of printed circuit board (PCB) assembly. A PCB is a simple board (usually made of laminate) that has conductive copper tracking etched on to its surface.

Electrical components such as resistors, diodes and capacitors can be easily assembled on the board and connected together via the copper tracks. The electrical components are then usually soldered on to the board on its reverse side.

Although surface mount assembly and Surface Mount Technology (SMT) are now the dominant technologies for PCBs, PTH is still widely used, especially in 'mixed' board solutions which combine SMT and PTH on the same PCB.

PTH assembly involves the drilling of many tiny holes into the PCB, into which the long-lead components are then fitted. With SMT, the components are mounted on the surface of the PCB so no drilling is required.

Long-lead devices are mounted into the drilled holes, trimmed and then soldered into place. This requires either a skilled technician to hand-solder each component or wave solder apparatus can be used to bulk-solder components.

PTH PCBs can be either single-sided or double-sided in other words, they can have components on just one side or on both sides. After the long-lead devices have been inserted into the holes on the PCB, their leads are then bent back along the line of the copper tracking prior to soldering.

 

What Are The Advantages Of Sticking With PTH For Some Uses?

PTH assembly is less commonplace these days than it was ten years ago but it is still used, especially in SMT/PTH hybrid boards. In certain cases it is not economical for a company to have their existing PTH assemblies redesigned as SMT boards and so they continue to use their PTH solution. This is especially applicable to products which are approaching discontinuation.

PTH boards use components that are tried and tested and perform predictably and reliably. For these reasons, many manufacturers have been unwilling to convert to SMT components for fear that the new SMT solution will perform in a slightly different way to their original PTH board. There are also practical and economical reasons why some manufacturers prefer to stick with PTH boards.

 

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

SMT Common Quality Problems

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 3:25:57 PM Asia/Shanghai

SMT Common Quality Problems

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Posted in SMT News By nail nail

Introduction of metal coating for SMT process

Saturday, July 9, 2016 11:49:43 AM Asia/Shanghai

Introduction of metal coating for SMT process

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Posted in SMT News By nail nail

SMT Basic Knowledge

Thursday, July 7, 2016 2:04:37 PM Asia/Shanghai

SMT Basic Knowledge

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Posted in SMT News By nail nail

Automation Cuts Costs of SMT Assembly

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 2:04:09 PM Asia/Shanghai

Growing demand for smaller and cheaper electronic devices has meant that assembly-line managers face a challenge in bringing down costs. One of the major costs has been the manual testing of printed circuit board assemblies.

Manufacturers have adopted a new strategy of bringing down labor costs by replacing the manual testing with a variety of automatic systems. Some of these have been more successful than others.

One of the most popular solutions has been to replace the manual labor with a robotic arm, while another is an automated inline circuit tester for surface mount assembly.

In this first system, the robotic arm loads the printed circuit board assembly on to the circuit tester. Once loaded, a top cover on the fixture closes automatically and starts scanning. The problem here has been that if the board is misplaced on the tester, it can be damaged by the misalignment. So an operator has to be on hand to adjust the placement manually.

The top cover is pneumatic and also uses a vacuum to ensure that the circuit board is in firm contact with the line. This makes for a very heavy system with a long set-up time.

In addition to the obvious extra labor costs this system entails, the operator is also in danger of being injured by any automatic closing of the top cover. The robotic system also took up more space than the original manual system.

There are also potential human-error problems with the automated inline circuit testing system. The circuit board is carried by a conveyor to the inline testing handler, where a scanner reads the board's bar code. If this is accepted, testing proceeds and the board moves on to the next station on the surface mount assembly line.

This system occupies very little space and is light and easy to assemble. Unlike the robotic arm, it does not require constant supervision by an operator. The problems begin if for any reason the inline circuit tester breaks down. This means that operators must remove all the circuit boards scheduled for testing so that the production operations are not disrupted or the testing procedure has to be bypassed altogether.

However, manufacturers conclude that the automated systems do represent considerable cost savings. The bulk of the costs are in the initial capital investment in equipment.

  

If you have any PCB or PCBA projects, please feel free to contact Joanna via EmailJoanna@raypcb.org

Posted in SMT News By joanna joanna

SMT Technology: Welding of Chip Components

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 4:22:46 PM Asia/Shanghai

SMT Technology: Welding of Chip Components

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Posted in SMT News By nail nail
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