Advanced Circuits, Inc. (ACI)

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Understanding Surface Mount Technology

Technology gets better and better all the time. There are gadgets and electrical components in most places today, from the phones that we have in our pockets to our vehicles, televisions, and just about everything else that we see and use. When you look at these devices, you will find that they tend to have a large number of circuit boards in them, and those boards have tiny devices that are mounted directly to them. This is known as surface mount technology, sometimes referred to as SMT.

Surface mount technology is used today because it can offer a range of advantages to the manufacture and design of printed circuit boards. Because of the small size, it means that electronics can be smaller, and they are capable of doing more. They are an amazing advancement. The surface mount technology can also allow for automated PCB assembly and soldering. It tends to make the products more reliable, and it helps to reduce their cost, not just their size.

The History of Surface Mount Technology

Automation started to become more prominent in the 70s and 80s in regard to assembling printed circuit boards. However, the components that were typically used with the boards made automation difficult. It would require that capacitors and resistors had their leads pre-formed to ensure they would properly fit through the holes. Everything needed to be exact, and this proved to be an issue. It would often mean that the components wouldn’t fit right, and machines would have to sometimes be stopped during the automation process.

This caused a massive slowdown in the assembly of the boards. As you can imagine, this also brought with it some additional costs. To help alleviate this problem, surface mount technology was created. It helped to streamline the process and allowed for components to be soldered to the board.

This helped to save some time and money. It was only natural that more and more companies started turning to this technology. It became so popular that it is currently the standard used for assembling PCBs in the manufacturing field. There are many different types of surface mount technology that are in use today.

Steps of Surface Mount Technology Devices

The SMT devices have many benefits over the leaded options. Rather than having wires connect the component, they are set into the board and soldered. This means they are more durable in many cases and have the potential to last longer.

There are several categories for these devices, including transistors and diodes, integrated circuits, and passive components.

The surface mount technology transistors and diodes are usually embedded in a plastic container. They have three leads, which emerge from the plastic and have been bent to touch the board. As with other types of SMTs, they are then soldered to the board.

Integrated circuits come in several varieties. The type of package that is used for the circuits can vary based on just how interconnected they need to be. There might be some chips that have between 14 and 16 pins, such as the simple logic chips. Others may be much larger and require hundreds of pins, such as VLSI processors. There are a substantial number of options with integrated circuits.

Passive SMTs will typically be resistors or capacitors, but it will depend on the board and what’s needed. They could also be crystals or coils, for example. These have become smaller and smaller over the years, although there are some instances where larger SMDs are still utilized. This is typically only going to occur when there is a lot of power needed.

These are just some of the main options that are available and that are commonly used today. There are other package options, and the ones that you will be using for your printed circuit boards will depend on what you are creating and what you need the board to do.

The Benefits for Your Boards

Surface mount technology is a massive technological improvement to how things were done in the past. They are a good solution to help improve not only the cost and the reliability of the boards but also the speed. It’s helped to make electronics that we’ve used for years smaller, more efficient, and more durable. However, it has also helped to boost innovation to help spur on new circuits and equipment.

Spurious inductance and capacitance can often be a problem in electronics. However, the levels are far smaller with surface mount technology. The resistors in these boards work better and more efficiently than leaded options. Ultimately, this provides higher frequencies and faster speeds. The boards can do more than they could if they were to use leaded components.

Another nice benefit is that the power rating will be lower. They are smaller, which means that the dissipation is lower in most cases. The small size also means that it’s possible to pack the PCB with more components. By putting more components on a single board, it allows many different types of technology to become smaller. Smaller tech is lighter, as well, which reduces the overall weight of the device.

Being able to put so many components onto a single board also allows for them to be more complex, which means increased functionality. Simply put, the surface mount technology allows the boards and the electronics to do far more than they could in the past.

From the performance to the durability, you can see why most companies today are utilizing SMT as much as possible. When you are looking for a manufacturer for your own printed circuit boards, you want to find those that offer SMT, and that have all the other features and services you will need. At Advanced Circuits, we have a host of products and services available including design and assembly help. We have a fast turnaround time and can provide you with high-quality PCBs that utilize surface mount technology. Get in touch today to see what we can do for you.


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