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The Relevance of SMT Engineer in PCB Manufacturing

A large percentage of electronics manufactured in the world today are produced with SMT. Surface Mount Technology is a component assembly technology related to PCBs. Most devices have SMT. SMT is one of the integral aspects of PCB production. Therefore, an SMT engineer plays a significant role in the PCB industry.

To understand the relevance of an SMT engineer, one must learn more about what an SMT does. This article discusses what you need to know about SMT engineers. It explores the importance of SMT engineers and how to become an SMT service engineer.

What is SMT?

SMT means surface mount technology. It is an integral aspect of the electronic assembly in which electrical components are placed on the surface of a circuit board. SMT is a method developed to help reduce the costs of production and use the PCB space more efficiently.

With the introduction of SMT, the manufacturing of complex electronic circuits into much smaller assemblies has been made easy. In the PCB industry, SMT is the main technology utilized. This technology has replaced the traditional through-hole technology method of mounting components in large part since SMT enables increased production automation.

This technology has enhanced the use of electronics for functions they weren’t used for. SMT utilizes surface mount devices to restore heavier, bigger, and more complex counterparts in older PCB construction.

Pros and Cons of SMT

smt process enginee

SMT is a reliable technology with several advantages; however, it has its disadvantages too. The pros and cons of this technology are mentioned below;

Pros:

  • Offers improved mechanical performance under vibration conditions
  • Allows components placement on both sides of the PCB
  • Automatically corrects small errors when placing components
  • Improved EMC performance
  • Higher component density
  • Low cost of production
  • Offers high signal transmission speed

Cons:

  • High demands for soldering technology
  • Small volume
  • Uneasy to utilize visual inspection
  • Components can get damaged easily
  • Requires high learning costs and training

Who is an SMT engineer?

An SMT engineer plays a vital role in the production of PCB. An SMT engineer maintains the effectiveness and efficiency of equipment and processes needed to produce a high-quality PCB product. This engineer assists in the placement of electronic materials on PCBs, defines and upgrades the SMT assembly processes, implements and verifies special manufacturing procedures.

This engineer also detects any defects in completed assemblies by inspecting them, gives feedback on the design process of PCBs, and sets process parameters, accesses new processes and components. As more electronic technology becomes upgraded, the basic responsibility of an SMT engineer remains unchanged.

Requirements to Become an SMT Engineer

SMT engineers have a lot of roles to play in PCB manufacturing; a reason they are regarded as the heart of the PCB industry. To become one, you must have a solid background in both physics and mathematics. There are other requirements to become an SMT engineer.

  • Degree

To be an SMT engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering fields. You will have to study some courses like physics, material science, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering. However, a degree is never enough. It is important you go for an internship program so that you can gain more experience in your career.

  • Skills

Being an SMT equipment engineer requires you to sharpen your critical reasoning skill and spatial reasoning. The critical reasoning skill is the ability to identify problems and provide remedies to the problem from different angles. Spatial reasoning has to do with being able to visualize 3D or 2D objects.

You will also need good communication skills to work with different people across the production process. Having great computer skills is also needed in your job.

  • Experience

Skills and degrees aren’t enough in this job. To be effective in carrying out your duties as an SMT engineer, you need experience. Experience is the best teacher. Some companies only employ experienced SMT process engineers while some are ready to employ fresh SMT process engineers.

Having experience gives you more opportunities. You can have experience in the manufacturing process of PCB. You can also have experience with tools, boards, and other parts of PCB assembly and inspection and quality standards of PCB. You can also have working experience of IPC-A-610, IPC-A-600, J-STD-001.

Responsibilities of an SMT Engineer

 As an SMT engineer, you are saddled with several responsibilities. Carrying out these responsibilities helps to ensure a smooth production process in the PCB industry. An SMT engineer does the following;

  • Works with SEA room engineers to troubleshoot SMT, establish 2D and 3D AOI, and carry out X-Rays.
  • Offers recent process and product improvements that help to meet CI, production, and quality goals.
  • Sets up and ensures the implementation of quality systems needed to achieve quality performance.
  • Inspects the quality of PCB products by carrying out different tests to ensure all products meet the right standards.
  • Inspects machines, software, tools, and all other material needed for a smooth production process.
  • Ensures every personnel in the production lines does good work to ensure quality is delivered.
  • Gives feedback on the production process to concerned parties.
  • Ensures manufacturing process controls and equipment can statistically meet the requirements of some specific products.
  • Develops new production processes while supporting existing ones.
  • Suggests improvement in the manufacturing process. An SMT engineer might need to suggest an improvement for the design of SMT.

SMT Engineer Jobs

SMT engineer jobs require years of experience, skills, degrees, etc. Since these engineers have a vital role in PCB manufacturing their presence helps to optimize the PCB production process.

The SMT production process requires many elements such as equipment, component package, materials, technical requirements, etc. Since all of these are required, a company needs an engineer that understands his job perfectly. An SMT engineer should be able to apply these processes without errors.

PCB and engineering companies across the world are looking for means to improve the production process. Production companies are looking for means to maximize profit. The goal of this is better output. Improved technology provides more possibilities.

This explains the reason small and complex components are now available. For example, some manufacturing processes need lead-free soldering. This is a big challenge to SMT engineers. For companies to achieve this, they need an experienced and skilled SMT engineer.

The progress of the company is also determined by the SMT engineer. As technology advances every day, SMT engineers are saddled with higher responsibilities. Their relevance in today’s technology is critical to the progress of the company.

Why is SMT used in Design?

The impressive improvement in cost, speed, and reliability for PCB assembly is the primary reason for the use of surface mount technology. This technology has a great impact on the development and design of new electronic equipment and circuits. For an SMT production engineer, this technology helps to achieve circuit performance.

  • Lower power ratings: Surface mount components have a great power rating. An example of this is the surface mount resistor. Surface-mount resistors feature less dissipation.
  • Smaller circuits: As the need for functionality within much smaller volumes is increasing across the electronics industry, SMT allows miniaturization. These components are smaller and can be placed on the PCB much closer.
  • Low spurious inductance and capacitance: With the small components, the level of spurious capacitance and inductance are smaller. SMT resistors are much closer to the perfect resistor than a leaded resistor. An SMT capacitor will have lower parasitic inductance. Due to this, higher speeds and higher frequencies can be achieved with standard SMT components.

Surface mount technology is commonly used for PCB assembly and production these days. This is because SMT allows more electronics to be packed into a much smaller space. The surface mount components provided improved performance. These days, PCB engineers place most components on a PCB automatically during the PCB assembly process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is the salary of an SMT engineer?

SMT process engineers receive good salaries. However, your salary as an SMT engineer depends on some factors like location, experience, and skill. For example, an average SMT engineer is being paid $92,000(4) (D5) annually in the U.S. This could vary in other places.

How much experience do I need to have to become an SMT engineer?

After acquiring a degree in an engineering course, gaining experience is paramount. However, the years of experience you need will be determined by the company you intend to work for.

Conclusion

An SMT process engineer is like the backbone of the production process. This profession requires great skills, experience, and knowledge. An SMT engineer is saddled with a lot of responsibilities and as such, must be very competent in his work.

The SMT assembly process involves several elements like a component package, equipment, materials, etc. The competition among companies across the world has resulted in improved manufacturing in the electronic industries. An SMT production engineer sees the manufacturing process of SMT.