Reading time ( words)
The trend towards miniaturization and increasing complexity of board assemblies as more functionality is being packed in smaller and smaller electronics devices no doubt continues to be among the critical issues in the electronics assembly industry today. Not to mention the ever-shrinking component sizes that are further complicating the manufacturing challenges.
To improve the electronics manufacturing process considering the challenges above, we have to drill down to the specific issues that have the greatest impact on the assembly line. And what better way to know these issues than to ask our readers?
So for this month's issue of SMT Magazine, we did a survey to find out the biggest factors affecting the electronics assembly process as the industry moves to tighter and tighter tolerances (finer lines and spaces). In our survey, we found out that while the most common line and space widths range from 2 mils to 5 mils, some respondents said they are doing boards with line and space widths down to 1 mil.
Given such tighter tolerances, respondents say PCBA testing and inspection, and soldering—in particular, solder paste printing—are their greatest challenge when it comes to electronics assembly.
This led me to what I would call my "solder paste printing exploration." From the manufacturers of solder pastes, to equipment makers, all the way to the solder paste inspection guys—and most importantly the electronics assemblers themselves who are using these products—I talked to the "supply chain," so to speak, all the way from Shanghai (during the recent NEPCON China 2016 exhibition in April) to our science and technology parks here in the Philippines, to find out what’s going on in the solder paste printing process, what factors impact the process, the challenges, and the best practices to consider to be able to address those challenges and improve efficiencies and yield in the SMT line.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.