Advanced Circuits, Inc. (ACI)

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What You Should Know About SMT Technology

SMT technology has helped to change the way that electronic equipment is made today. Instead of using the standard components that were used in the past that required wire leads, many boards have the tech mounted right to the surface. Naturally, this provides some nice advantages. It means that the PCB and the overall equipment can be smaller. It’s possible for PCBs to have more tech on them, making them more capable, as well.

Why Was SMT Technology Created?

Automation for printed circuit boards started to grow in the 1970s and 80s. This was meant to make it faster and easier to create the PCBs for the demanding market. However, it was quickly discovered that using the traditional leads and wires was difficult for PCB assembly. It was difficult to create the boards quickly, and sometimes the leads would miss holes. If everything was not set perfectly onto the board, it wouldn’t work properly — or at all.

This means that the automation process was slowed down and that the cost increased. Essentially, it eliminated the main reasons that automation was introduced in the first place. To eliminate these problems, SMT technology was created.

Today, surface mount technology has become the most common option for PCB assembly. Instead of needing leads or wires, which could break and become a problem, the components are simply soldered to the PCB. The leads don’t have to go through holes as would be the case with the older-style leads.

Over the years, the size of the components has shrunk, which means that the boards have shrunk, too. This is why we’ve seen so many different types of devices get smaller year after year. The PCBs are better designed and can do far more than their past counterparts.

SMT Technology Components

SMT has three main categories of component types. These include:

  • Passive Components
  • Transistors and Diodes
  • Integrated Circuits

Passive Components

Passive surface mounted devices can come in many different styles. The most common tend to be capacitors or resistors. However, they could also include coils or crystals depending on what’s needed for the board. You’ll also find a range of different sizes, which can make it possible to find solutions for nearly any type of board being created. The larger options, including the 1206 and the 1812, are not used as frequently today as they were in the past. These tend to be for devices and applications that may require a substantial amount of power.

Transistors and Diodes

These are small and will typically be contained in plastic. The leads emerge from the plastic casing and are bent so that they’ll touch the board. This makes them easy to solder into place. These will have three leads. This is helpful, as it makes it easy to determine how they should be applied.

Integrated Circuits

There are also options for integrated circuits. These chips will have a varying number of pins on them. Some, for example, might only have 14 pins. Others, such as processors, could have 200 or more pins. Naturally, there are many different types of chips that could be used depending on the nature of the device you’re designing. Some of the common types include Small Outline Integrated Circuits, Dual In-Line, Thin Small Package Outline, and Shrink Small Outline Package.

There are many other packages available, as well. The options that you choose when designing the PCB will vary based on your needs, naturally. Regardless of what’s being used, though, it becomes easy to see why SMT technology has become so popular. It helps to reduce the size of the PCBs while still giving them all the features and power that are needed.

Test Your Design

Using PCB Artist — free software from Advanced Circuits — you can create your initial design for the printed circuit board. You can check out more than half a million different components that can be used for the design. This will give you the chance to experiment and find the options that will work best for your needs. The design software helps to make it easier to create a quality PCB. Then, the design check and engineering review will ensure that it works before you go into production.

However, it tends to be a good idea to order a few prototypes first. Having some prototypes to test in real-world scenarios will help to ensure that the SMT design will work for your needs. Even though you might feel as though you’ve created a high-quality PCB, you won’t know until you’ve tested it in the field to determine how it behaves.

If the design doesn’t quite hold up under real-world testing, it’s time to go back to the design and consider ways that you might improve it. This could involve using different components, for example. Perhaps you found that you need to have more power than you realized and may need to have a larger integrated circuit on the board. Find the problem, fix it, and get another prototype.

Manufacturing the PCBs with SMT Technology

Once you’re sure that you have a PCB that will meet your needs, you can then go into full production. Advanced Circuits can manufacture your boards whether you need just a few or you need to have tens of thousands. We’re the third-largest PCB manufacturing company in the United States, and we manufacture everything within our facility.

Additionally, we have a fast turnaround time. Often, you’ll have your boards delivered to your door within days of placing your order. We have staff available around the clock if you have any questions about your boards.

SMT Technology is a Great Solution

SMT has helped electronics to advance quickly in the past several decades. The smaller size and the capabilities they offer can help electronics makers of all types, regardless of the size of your business. It’s important to ensure that boards are designed correctly and that the boards are manufactured to your specifications. You can get in touch with Advanced Circuits today to get a quote.


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