Why Surface Mount (SMT) Has Become The Preferred PCB Assembly Technique

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Printed circuit boards (PCBs) have steadily evolved over many decades to become a compact, efficient, and critical component of a wide variety of machines, automobiles, computing terminals, PLCs and other electronic devices. In addition, they have had an unparalleled influence on the introduction of new developments, technologies, and inventions in the global electronics industry. Their compact footprint and high reliability in electrically connecting individual electronic components of an electronics' design underscores the complexity required to manufacture high quality PCBs. Today, the most popular PCB assembly technique is surface mount technology (SMT), which is a vast improvement over earlier assembly techniques such as through-hole assembly. In many ways, SMT assembly is now considered to be the gold standard of PCB assembly techniques.

SMT has replaced other manufacturing processes to become the preferred choice of manufacturing PCBs for several reasons including:

Time Efficiency : Prior to the widespread use of SMT assembly, point-to-point and through-hole assembly were utilized; However, these techniques consumed a lot of time since assemblers would need to solder pads to the PCB's frame and would also require connecting wires, which not only take more time to solder, but also change the way energy is transmitted throughout the PCB. SMT solves these problems by soldering components to the surface of the PCB instead of through-hole connection points. This simple innovation allows PCBs to be manufactured via automation, which is highly time efficient.

Decreases Assembly Costs : Traditional PCB assembly techniques take much more time than automated SMT assembly. Hence, in the past PCBs were more costly to produce than they are now with SMT assembly. Moreover, for low-quantity or prototype PCBs commonly needed by design engineers, the cost for producing a handful of PCBs was extremely prohibitive with traditional assembly techniques. But due to automation and the ability to schedule the manufacturing of a variety of low-quantity PCBs simultaneously, SMT assembly drives down the costs of production to highly attractive price points. Customers who are concerned about costs should always ensure a PCB assembly service is capable of automated SMT assembly.

Enhanced Usability : PCBs that are designed for SMT assembly use smaller components than in the past, which causes the entire PCB to be more compact and sleeker with greater energy efficiency. These advantages enable present-day PCBs to be used in a wider array of devices including, handheld and laptop computers, smart phones, or machines that require a flat, compact PCB control board rather than one with large dimensions. For these reasons, SMT-manufactured PCBs have gained broad acceptance across the industry from electronic circuit design engineers to OEM machinery designers, among others.

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