Automated SMT PCB Assembly
Finally, we are in a position to make electronic circuit boards in greater volume and have our own Automated SMT Assembly production line up and running. SMT = Surface Mount Technology and allows much more rapid PCB loading and soldering.
The video above shows our production line in action automatically taking electronic components from reels loaded in feeders and placing them in the correct position on the PCB. Multiple PCBs are combined into a panel which reduces handling. In this example there are 4 PCBs in each panel. These processes are often referred to as SMT Pick and Place.
SMT Automated Assembly Process
The steps involved in the process are:
- setup – load reels into feeders, loading feeders into the machine and setting up the programming so the machine knows which components are in which feeders and where they go on the PCB
- fiducial recognition – telling he machine how to align itself with each PCB in the panel
- putting solder paste on to the pads on a panel of PCBs
- inspecting that to ensure it is done well
- taking components from the feeders and placing them in the correct place on each PCB in the panel
- inspecting the loaded panel to make sure the placement is good and tweaking anything that needs touching
- the reflow oven then warms up the PCB, quickly melts all the solder and brings the temperature back down
- final visual inspection and marking anything that might need touch up
If you look carefully right at the end you will see a small yellow triangle on one of the PCBs. This is how we mark anything that needs to be looked at. Over time this will reduce as the process becomes more refined and we learn the nuances of the equipment and tailoring the PCB design to suit it.
The next steps are addition additional automation which will include PCB panel stackers at each end and automated visual inspection. The number 1 rule of automation is “Don’t Automate a Mess, you will just make a bigger mess faster”! So we will start taking those steps soon but not quite ready yet.
Really looking forward to taking these next steps.
The Australia Made Campaign
And we have also signed up with the Australia Made Campaign because we are making these products in Australia. This really deserves a whole post of its own and I will get to that soon.
Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 40 years.
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