The History and Benefits of SMT Equipment for Electronics Manufacturing

Surface mount technology (SMT) is a key aspect of electronics manufacturing. The process is a largely automated one that has taken years to develop into the advanced technical operation it is today. For printed circuit board assembly manufacturing, the growth of SMT equipment was especially key, and electronics manufacturers across the world utilize varying degrees of automated SMT technology.

At RiverSide Electronics, we use state-of-the-art SMT equipment for a comprehensive range of applications. Our machines can place 01005 package size and unique odd formed components. RiverSide provides a competitive advantage with automated set up validation and NPI software which reduces change over and overall placement time.  Highlights of our equipment:

  • Component size range: 01005 30mm sq
  • Component capability: MAX (WxLxH) 30 x 30 x 6 (1.18 x 1.18 x 0.24)
  • Edge clearance required: only 3 mm (0.117”)
  • Maximum board size: 457 mm x 508 mm (18” x 20”)
  • Feeder capacity: (392) 8 mm feeders and (20) trays
  • MAX Placement rate of AC-30: 34,400 cph


The history of the development of SMT equipment is a short one, and it was only first introduced in the 1960s. During this time, however, only a few players in the industry took advantage of the possibilities that surface mounting provided. It took almost 20 years for SMT to become a widely used operation with performing much of the foundational groundwork for the development of surface mount technology.

By mechanically changing the structure of the components and circuitry on printed circuit boards, parts could be soldered directly onto the board. This led to the development of smaller components overall that could be attached to both sides of the board. The use of adhesives and other forms of mounting beyond soldering were developed to be used specifically for printed circuit boards.

During the 1980s and 90s, the development of SMT placement equipment began to automate the process of surface mounting. Initial placement equipment was integrated into the surface mount assembly line as two sequential operations. First, the empty circuit board was run through fast placement machines that applied simple components including resistors and capacitors. Then the board was passed through a precision placer that attached all remaining components with accuracy inside a 0.02” error margin.

In the early 2000s, these two placement machines were combined into one, speeding up the surface mounting process. Since 2010, the multiple machine heads that performed the placing were also combined into one highly advanced head that can perform every placement procedure. Some of the fastest automated SMT machines can place 200,000 components per hour.

Today, RiverSide Electronics uses the best surface mounting technology and placement machines available to the electronics manufacturing industry. To learn more about our SMT equipment and printed circuit board assembly, contact RiverSide Electronics today at (507) 523-3220 for more information.