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VR Industries Blog

Looking At The Past and Future of Surface-Mount Technology

by VR Industries

Surface-mount technology has been around since the 1980s as a lead design blueprint for PCBA—but will its past dictate the future?

What got us here?
Printed circuit board manufacturing flourished at the same speed the products it would be incorporated into did. With advancements in ideology, methodology and technology arriving so rapidly, it may surprise some to hear that, according to Zen Tech, the fundamental mechanics of modern surface-mounted technology created in the '80s is still in use.

In the past, the "peg and hole" method reigned supreme. In a simplified explanation, after the board was manufactured, it would then be sent to a PCBA company that would tie in the components. But, as technology became more intricate, Moore's law became a more relevant factor. The theory is well-known in the PCBA industry, and PCB Train reported it reasons that every 18 months the amount of transistors found in a PCB doubles, while the cost remains unchanged.

This working methodology caused the price of "peg and hole" process to skyrocket, as manual PCBA became much more expensive. This necessitated the switch to cost-saving methods that could speed up the production of more intricate designs, while yielding to budgetary restrictions.

Surface-mounted technology and the future
Zen Tech reported that the personal computer boom on the consumer-buying end of the market created the need for quick and lean manufacturing methods to be incorporated into standard design processes to fulfill shipment obligations. Surface-mounted technology prevailed as the leading methodology.

Essentially, manufacturers were able to forego the "peg and hole" blueprint and print the boards faster knowing that PCBA companies could solder on the components and nodes when all is said and done. This revolutionized the industry as production sped up and costs went down. Without the need to essentially prefab the design to fit circuit board assembly specifications, large retailers were able to put in sizable orders and receive a quick time-to-deliver.

"Surface-mount technology is becoming increasingly important."

This method is still in existence today, as the space between components has crept down to one-tenth of an inch, according to PCB Train. While this requires much more attention to detail, the advancements being found in electronics could have never been realized without the manufacturing achievement experienced in the PCB industry.

Moving forward, surface-mount technology will become co-dependent on lean manufacturing techniques. Wearable technology and the expected change to personal computers in general will require greater flexibility from PCBA teams to accomplish futuristic designs.

Moore's Theory will continue to be a standard for an industry that is constantly reminded it needs to do more with less, and make its working parts faster than they were just a year ago. Storage memory is now approaching the petabyte territory, whereas just a few years ago terabyte was the status quo.

It's easy to project that surface-mount technology will only solidify its role in the lean manufacturing process moving forward as intricate designs become the norm and precision reigns supreme.

Topics: News, Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Written by VR Industries