Smart Factory Solution is fast becoming a trend in the electronics manufacturing industry. This is relevant because of the need to cut down on costs, improve the speed of production and do away with some of the challenges that restrict improved efficiency of production.
Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines play an important role in the provision of responsive manufacturing solutions.
This guide explains the concept of Surface Mount Technology (SMT), the different types or brands of SMT machines, and the companies or brands that manufacture these machines.
What is Surface Mount Technology?
Surface Mount Technology, also called SMT, is a type of electrical component production that involves the mounting of the electrical components directly on the surface of a Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
The relevance of SMT has gone a long way to replace the former electronic component production format – Through-Hole Technology.
One of the many advantages of manufacturing with Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is that it makes it easier for production to be scaled in real-time. In addition to the speed that comes with it, SMT also helps to cut down on the cost of electronics production because fewer hands are needed.
The electronic devices that are manufactured by using Surface Mount Technology (SMT) are called Surface Mount Devices (SMDs).
What does Surface Mount Machine do?
Surface Mount Machines are also called Pick-and-place machines or SMT Component Placement Systems.
These machines are robotic machines used for placing Surface Mount Devices (SMDs) onto Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).
These machines are commonly used because of the high precisions, several use cases/applications, and the variety of electronic components that can be used on them.
Types of SMT Assembly Machines
A bulk of the increased success rate of using Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines depends on the inputs of the different machines used in the process.
We are not talking about one machine. Up to six (6) machines are used to facilitate the placement of electronic components on the circuit boards.
Below are some of the popular pick-and-place machines and the work they do in terms of Surface Mount Technology (SMT).
1. Pick-and-Place Machines
This is the first type of SMT Assembly machine. Pick-and-place machines are used to pick up and place or position the Surface Mount Device (SMD) electronic components onto the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
The placement is immediately followed by the soldering of those SMD components to make them stick to the circuit board.
Lots of factors are considered before deciding on the model of Pick-and-place machines to buy. These machines are categorized into different types.
Manual Pick-and-place Machines
These are the most common type of Pick-and-place machines. As the name suggests, the process of picking and placing the Surface Mount Device (SMD) on the PCB is done manually.
Worthy of mention is that manual pick-and-place machines are often used for modular PCB production needs. The manual machines can also be used when there is a need to customize the components for high-speed, unattended operations.
Using the manual pick-and-place machines is an ideal way to derive improved yield, reduce fatigue on the part of the operator, and cut down on placement errors.
Although the accuracy of the placement is not always assured because of the potential limitations faced by the operator.
That notwithstanding, the manual pick-and-place machine does a great job of bolstering the incremental production of hand-held volumes.
Semi-Automatic Pick-and-place Machine
The semi-automatic pick-and-place machines were originally designed to be the interface between the manual and the automatic pick-and-place machines.
These semi-automatic pick-and-place machines did an excellent job of providing a vision-assisted computer interface that makes it easier for the operator to see the direction of the component. This way, the operator will make accurate placement of the ultra-fine pitch components.
The only difference is that the Semi-automatic pick-and-place machine still works with manual placements. So, the operator has to manually position the components for low-volume applications.
Automatic Pick-and-place Machines
Automatic SMT machines replaced the semi-automatic models. The automatic model was improved to make the transition of the leap from manual to fully automated SMT machines.
Among many other things, automatic SMT machines are fully equipped with pick and place centering methods, as well as improved machine capabilities, in the areas of repeatability and accuracy.
2. SMT Curing Oven
This is also called the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Baking Oven. The SMT Curing Oven is an oven used for the baking of solder paste and adhesive curing.
The volume of production also determines the possibility of combining the trio of solder paste baking, adhesive curing, and solder reflow.
3. Solder Paste Screen Printer
This is the third type of SMT assembly machine. The Solder Paste Screen Printer is a machine used for screen printing the solder paste onto the circuit board (PCB).
This is often done before the Surface Mount Device (SMD) components will be placed atop the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
4. Reflow Soldering Machine
The Reflow Soldering Machine accounts for about 25% of the total cost of a Surface Mount Technology (SMT) device.
This SMT machine is primarily used for enabling solder reflow from the Surface Mount Device (SMD) to the circuit board. This is done after the reflow soldering is done with solder paste.
5. Solvent Cleaning Equipment
The soldering process is not always neat. There are chances of flux and excess solder remaining after the entire process.
That is why you need to use the Solvent Cleaning Equipment. This SMT Machine is used to clean and remove the excess flux and solder from the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) after soldering.
6. Inspection Equipment
The Repair and Inspection Equipment is another type of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machine that is required in the SMT assembly process.
The PCB Inspection Equipment is an SMT Machine used for inspecting the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The inspection is done to inspect the circuit board to check for potential defects.
The machine does not only find out the defects or faults in the circuit board. It is also used to repair or fix those defects.
Soldering Iron and Hot Air SMD Rework Station are two of the most used types of PCB Inspection Equipment that are used for the detection and repair of this defect.
The Best SMT Assembly Machine Manufacturers
We are now going to review some of the best brands and companies that manufacture different kinds of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines.
Mycronic is the first SMT assembly manufacturer on the list. This is one of the best SMT assembly manufacturers that focus on the production, distribution, and management of sophisticated pick-and-place machines.
The MY300 is the most outstanding of the SMT machines manufactured by Mycronic. With this pick-and-place machine, operators are confident of populating more boards with less floor space.
Features of Mycronic SMT Machine
These are some of the features of the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) manufactured and distributed by Mycronic:
Strong Software Suite
The pick-and-place machine is built with a powerful software suite that is both versatile and user-friendly.
The relevance of this SMT machine software is that it makes it simpler for machine operators, planners, stock managers, and engineers to have access to update information about SMT machine uses.
Precise Material Handling
You do not necessarily need to overwork yourself by working with complex material handling.
Instead, you want to use the precise material handling feature of the Mycronic SMT machine to avoid the bottlenecks that come with the complex handling of SMT materials.
This way, you will leverage the versatile pick-and-place solution offered by Mycronic SMT machines to produce as many circuit boards as you want in a day.
2. JUKI Automation Systems
JUKI is one of the leading manufacturers of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines. The company has been in the business for many years. Thus, it is in a better position to offer the desired SMT machine solutions.
Let us go into details of what JUKI has to offer, as far as Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines are concerned.
The Company Builds a Large Portfolio of Placement Machines
JUKI is reputed for the large portfolio of pick-and-place machines it manufactures. The company manufactures SMT machines for small, mid-sized, and large companies.
The performance of the SMT machines is not in doubt because JUKI places a premium on the development of high-quality and high-performance pick-and-place machines.
The JUKI SMT machines are also designed in a way that the machines will make accurate placement of the components on top of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
3. DDM Novastar
DDM Novastar is one of the leading manufacturers of pick-and-place equipment designed for use in both manual and automated SMT systems.
So far, the company has been able to manufacture about 26,000 SMTs, of which the customers are satisfied with their purchase.
DDM Novastar also designs the pick-and-place equipment to work in low-to-medium SMT machine applications.
This is in addition to the reliability, ease of operation, quick set-up, and affordable costs of the pick-and-place machines.
Below are some of the reasons why engineers and machine operators prefer to use SMT machines manufactured by DDM Novastar:
Different Types of SMT Machines
One of the reasons why SMT machine operators like DDM Novastar is because the company offers a wide range of pick-and-place machines.
These machines include manual types and automated types. For the manual models, we have many designs, such as:
- MPP-11 Manual Desktop Pick and Place Machine
- MPP-21 Pick and Place System
The automatic SMT machines manufactured by DDM Novastar include:
- LE40 Pick and Place Machine
- The Low-Cost NovaPlace Pick and Place Machine
- LS60 Pick and Place Machine
- LS40V Pick and Place Machine with Vision
- LE-40V Pick and Place Equipment with Vision
Turnkey SMT Assembly Systems
DDM Novastar is also one of the manufacturers of pieces of SMT assembly equipment required for the manufacturing of a complete Printed Circuit Board (PCB) solution.
The company offers its complete SMT assembly systems to be used for high-volume PCB assembly, cost-effective prototyping, and pilot manufacturing.
The DDM Novastar turnkey SMT solutions are also used for manual SMT prototyping, medium volume throughput, automatic prototyping, and low-volume throughput.
Unique Programming Software
DDM Novastar also adds something important to the full-scale SMT assembly services it offers.
The company offers unique programming software. The name of the software is SMTrue Run Optimize Software.
The software is used for making offline programming of automatic SMT machines. This way, it will easier to derive increased efficiency and throughput from the machine.
Different Levels of Automation
Another unique feature of the DDM Novastar pick-and-place machines is the different levels that are used to automate the workings of the machine.
These levels of automation have to do with the different production stages and capabilities of the DDM Novastar SMT machines.
The minimum number of components that can be assembled per hour is 50. That is if you are using the Manual (hand) SMT machine.
It can be as high as 30,000 Components per Hour (CPH) if you are using the Fully Automatic (High-Speed) Free-Standing or Modular SMT machine.
Affordable Pick-and-place Machines
DDM Novastar also manufactures pick-and-place machines that wouldn’t dip a hole in your pocket.
The price of the SMT machines starts from $300-$400 for the Manual (Hand) and can be as high as $100,000 for the fully automatic variant.
4. Yamaha Motor
Yamaha is another company that specializes in the production of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines.
The company focuses on the production of pick-and-place machines that will offer the operators smart manufacturing solutions.
So, if you are looking to realize smart manufacturing with pick-and-place machines, Yamaha Motor is the manufacturer you should be talking to.
Here are some of the reasons why Yamaha Motor s one of the best SMT Assembly machine manufacturers:
A Full Lineup of SMT Machines
One of the advantages that set Yamaha Motor many miles ahead of the competition is the wide range of SMT products the manufacturer offers.
This SMT machine lineup ranges from SMD Storage System, Surface Mounter, Inspection System, Management Software, Solder-Paste Printer, Flip Chip Bonder & Hybrid Placer, and Dispenser.
Yamaha Motor also beats the other SMT machine manufacturers to the competition by offering competitive prices.
No matter your budget, rest assured that there is a pick-and-place machine that matches your needs.
If there is any SMT machine manufacturer that worth the onion, it has to be Europlacer. The company has consistently shown up over the last couple of years to manufacture, distribute and manage several pick-and-place machines.
These SMT machine services are no unconnected to the dedication of the manufacturer to design and distribute some of the best high-mix pick-and-place Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines.
This is in addition to the fact that Europlacer manufactures these machines to fit into your business needs. You needn’t forfeit one feature for the other because Europlacer took care to ensure that the SMT machines are designed to adapt to your business needs without any need to sacrifice quality or output.
The SMT machines produced by Europlacer pack many features, including:
- Smart nozzles
- High accuracy
- Fixed camera
- Electrical testing
- High speed
- Service and maintenance
6. Neoden SMT
Neoden SMT is a reliable Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machine manufacturer. The company specializes in the production and management of a full automatic SMT line.
That is not all!
The manufacturer also manufactures a high-speed Printed Circuit Board (PCB) assembly line. This is designed to satisfy any batch of PCB assembly.
The company also manufactures different SMT machines that are designed to give the machine operators multiple options to choose from as far as Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is concerned.
Panasonic is one of the advocates for Smart Factory Solutions. They have since followed it up with the production of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines that offer best-in-class solutions to the users.
The SMT machines distributed by Panasonic are also versatile. You can get machines for both entry-level and more complex requirements.
In addition, you can use these SMT machines for any volume and any mix of your Smart Manufacturing needs.
8. Hanwha Precision Machinery
Last but not least on our list of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machine manufacturers is Hanwha Precision Machinery.
The company manufactured the first chip mounter in 1989. Since then, the manufacturer has delved into many other relevant manufacturing processes, including integrated software solutions, semiconductor equipment production, Surface Mount Technology (SMT) mounters, industrial automation equipment, and insertion & equipment automation equipment.
The company also offers excellent customer service that is targeted at delivering more value, greater efficiency, and versatility.
How to Choose the Best SMT Machine
Choosing a pick-and-place machine can be tricky, especially when you don’t know what to look for. That is why you need to learn about some of the important features you must look for in any SMT machine.
These factors worth considering are:
1. Placement Speed
The speed at which the pick-and-place machine works is very important. You want to consider this first before any other thing because it is one of the important features that make the SMT machine work as it should.
Also, you need to understand that the placement speed has to do with the speed or rate at which the SMT machine picks up the SMT components inspects the components before placing the components on the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
The other important factor you want to consider about the placement speed is the standard rating of IPC 9850. This is the standard used by many SMT manufacturers to rate the speed of the pick-and-place machines. Besides, the IPC 9850 speed or rating standard has to do with the general guidelines for the circuit board arrays and the part mix.
The rule of thumb is for you to devalue any figure that the manufacturer may have given. The devaluation is important because the speed quoted by the manufacturers is usually lowered by 30% or 40%.
Therefore, you will get an accurate value or figure of the potential rate or speed of the SMT machine if you make some divisions. The best way to divide is by devaluing or reducing the placement rate of the machine’s rate by 30%. This way, you will have a clear speed value that the SMT machine can deliver.
2. Accuracy & Repeatability
The other important factor you want to consider is the accuracy and the repeatability of the pick-and-place machine.
This is important, considering that the accuracy of the machine plays an important role in the picking, inspection, and placement of the components on the Printed Circuit Board (PCB).
Worthy of mention is that the quality of the SMT machine is very important when looking for accuracy and repeatability in the pick-and-place machine.
The best SMT machine with the best accuracy is the one that has an accuracy of 0.0001” and a fine pitch lead of 12mil.
This should be done repeatedly for maximum outputs.
We wouldn’t fail to mention that the pick-and-place machine you want to buy should be the one that has programming software, as well as a computer. These two will go a long way to take care of the continued repetition of the component placements.
3. Size of the Parts
Have you taken the time to consider the size of the parts you want to place on the pick-and-place machine?
The size of the parts matters a lot because you need to find a Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machine that matches the size of the parts you want to use to pick, inspect and place on the circuit board.
The general rule is to buy a pick-and-place machine (P&P) that can pick components with the sizes:
If the SMT machine cannot pick those, it means that you may need to make special arrangements. This is common if the size of the SMT components is below or less than 0402.
In that case, you will need to get a nozzle or an additional feeder to streamline the design of such a component.
Surface Mount Technology (SMT) machines or pick-and-place machines are very necessary for the production of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). These machines make the job of mounting the components on the circuit board faster and easier. And you will save more money and spend less time.
Thus, consider the important factors we just shared in this article so you can find the best SMT assembly machine to buy for your PCB design needs.