SMT electronics assembly: A guide to what it is, how it works, the benefits and applications
2 February, 2021
What is SMT electronics assembly?
Surface-mount technology (SMT) is used on printed circuit boards (PCBs) and works by strategically placing components directly onto the board’s surface.
Today, SMT electronics assembly is being relied on more and more by engineers due to electronics designs becoming smaller and growing in complexity. In fact, surface mount technology is the main technology used for PCB assembly within electronics manufacturing.
Since the late 1980s, SMT has been the preferred PCB assembly technology and has been the mainstay in electronics manufacturing technology ever since. Most components in a smartphone or car are likely to have been manufactured via SMT electronics assembly.
It is a simple, automated PCB assembly process, whereby components are pasted and soldered to circuit boards using automated production lines. It differs to through-hole electronics assembly as SMT components are placed directly on both sides of a circuit board, rather than soldered to a wire lead. It also removes the need to drill holes through the PCB.
If you have an application that requires a PCB assembly process, it’s important to know whether SMT is the best process for it. This is key, because opting for the wrong one will have a direct impact on the efficiency and cost of your manufacturing process, besides having a detrimental effect on the quality and performance of your product.
This guide to SMT electronic assembly should offer some insight to help you make the right decision and ensure high standards are achieved with your product.
What are the benefits of SMT electronics assembly?
SMT electronics assembly is known for its efficient process and has a wide range of uses to provide optimal functionality. Driving efficiency is at the top of the agenda for today’s manufacturing and production businesses, from both a cost and energy perspective. SMT electronics assembly reduces manufacturing costs as the process requires far fewer holes to be drilled into the circuit board, to significantly cut the costs of processing and handling. SMT manufacturing also has the capability to produce high volumes as its faster and simpler assembly method allows manufacturers to increase total output, which in turn enables a better per-unit cost.
The fact that it uses an almost entirely automated method means that SMT electronics assembly is a less risky, more reliable process that significantly reduces the chance of error.
Another selling point of SMT electronics assembly is that it uses space on a PCB more effectively, allowing engineers to mount very small and sensitive components, such as resistors and diodes, on PCBs.
When should I use SMT electronics assembly?
SMT assembly is ideal for creating electronics products that are smaller, lightweight and faster while increasing power. In short, it is a simple assembly method for complex electronic requirements.
SMT is used in applications across many sectors, from consumer – such as USB flash drives and smartphones – to marine - for example portable navigation systems - to medicine and healthcare - such as pacemakers and MRIs.
Ask the experts
This guide offers an overview of SMT assembly and when is best to use it, but to avoid any potential pitfalls it is always worth seeking the expertise of your qualified PCB assembly partner, as they will be armed with the right knowledge to deliver the best option for your PCB assembly technology needs. Your PCB assembly partner will also be able to advise you on any potential issues with using SMT electronics assembly and ensure you are choosing the most effective solution to meet your needs.
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