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.

Applications of Low Pressure Molding in Lean Electronics Manufacturing

For all the physical and digital equipment that electronics control, electrical systems are quite fragile by themselves. From the wires alone to a full circuit board system, electrical components are susceptible to damage from water, wind, heat, cold, pressure, dust, gasses, and many other stress factors. This vulnerability has presented many issues with long-term function of electronics since early electrical products were developed.

Because of this, manufacturers, engineers, and other players in the electronics industry are continually creating new ways of protecting and strengthening electrical components and assemblies. As a manufacturer of some of the toughest ruggedized electronics in the industry, RiverSide Electronics understands the importance of low pressure molding as a strengthening and protecting measure for our products.

Ruggedized electronics are designed to face harsh environments like outdoor conditions, high EMI surroundings, fume-filled industrial spaces, and more. To maintain function and reliability in the long-term, ruggedized electronics require specialized treatment in the production process. In addition to other protection methods, this treatment includes low pressure molding using Mold Man® high-quality equipment.

 

What is low pressure molding?

Low pressure molding uses a hot-melt material to seal or otherwise enclose an electronic component at a low temperature and pressure. For example, RiverSide uses high-performance polyolefins and polyimides melted at approximately 410º F to mold a component at 30 to 300 PSI. Because of the relatively low heat and pressure, this process molds around an electronic component without damaging the fragile electrical systems.

 

Where do we use it?

RiverSide uses low pressure molding primarily in the production of our ruggedized electronics. The molding process seals connection points, covers parts, and otherwise encapsulates components to protect the electrical system as a whole from particulates, liquids, vibrations, harsh light, and many other conditions that could otherwise damage electronics. Low pressure molding is also used in the production of other electronics we manufacture and assemble including printed circuit board assemblies and certain parts used in the system integration process.

Since its initial development in the 1970s, low pressure molding has been key in the manufacturing and assembly of a wide range of electronics. The process of low pressure molding replaced toxic and sometimes dangerous molding processes that were often expensive and environmentally detrimental. Today, low pressure molding offers a fast, cost-effective, and safe protection process for many electronic components.

 

To learn more about our uses of low pressure molding and our electronic assembly services, contact RiverSide Electronics at (507) 523-3220 or send us a message online today.

Using Conformal Coating in Contract Electronics Manufacturing for Reliable, Long-Lasting Systems

Electronics are used in a wide range of applications, and because of this, they are exposed to many different environmental conditions. From humid basements to dusty fields, a variety of electrical components and assemblies must face harsh surroundings in the long term. However, because of the fragile nature of the vast majority of electronics, protective measures must be taken to keep electrical systems functioning at peak efficiency despite extended exposure to potentially-damaging factors. At RiverSide Electronics, our team of expert Engineers and Technicians provide contract electronics manufacturing services for well-protected assemblies that hold up to rugged outdoor conditions and other harsh environments.

Manufacturing ruggedized electronics that can withstand the many damaging elements of their surrounding environments is a process that requires specific treatment operations. Our contract electronics manufacturing services meet those requirements with comprehensive protective procedures, including conformal coating.

 

What It Is

Conformal coating is a critical treatment for electronics that need to withstand harsh environments. Primarily, conformal coating is used to protect widely used components like printed circuit boards, but it can be utilized to ruggedize a wide range of additional electronic components.

 

How It Works

A conformal coating on electronics is exactly what it sounds like: a coating of specific material that is conformed to the exterior shape of a component. RiverSide uses a thin polymeric film sprayed over a printed circuit board surface. This film is applied in less than 250 micrometers thickness, and the majority of our conformal coatings are applied as transparent for easier inspection and use of the electronics. While most often composed of acrylic, urethane, or silicone, the components of our coatings vary depending on what environments the coated components will be exposed to as well as the components themselves. Our processes coat and protect an assembly with silicone or urethane compound fillers.

 

What It Does

First and foremost, conformal coatings protect printed circuit boards and full assemblies from dust, moisture, fumes, and many other external factors. To some degree, coatings also protect components against harmful temperatures. The additional compound fillers also provide secondary protection from vibrations, corrosion, force shock, and other stressors. Working together, conformal coatings and compound fillers protect an assembly from a wide range of environmental damage.

 

RiverSide ensures that its ruggedized electronics are capable of standing up to extreme environments for extended periods without compromising quality and function. To learn more about conformal coating and other ways we work to ruggedize electronics, call RiverSide Electronics at (507) 523-3220, or contact us online for more information about our contract electronics manufacturing.

Understanding the Role of Ruggedized Electronics and Two Protection Options

In today’s modern world, we all rely on electronics for the vast majority of our day-to-day lives. From cell phones to cars, electronics find a place in almost every moment of our day as individuals as well as in commercial and industrial operations. Because of their comprehensive prevalence, electronics must meet a broad range form and function. However, because electrical systems and devices are vulnerable to damages from many sources both natural and manmade, it’s necessary to put as much thought into the construction of electronic casing as into the electronics themselves. This is why RiverSide Electronics is dedicated to the engineering and production of ruggedized electronics that stand up to a range of extreme conditions.

 

Ruggedized electronics are designed to prevail in the long-term even when exposed to severe winds, dust, dirt, rain, snow, ice, and extreme temperatures. For outdoor applications, ruggedized electronics are the most reliable option to maintain a long-lasting function.

 

How do we help electronic assemblies withstand extreme outdoor environments? Two options are with potting and conformal coating.

 

Potting

 

Potting involves filling a complete electronic assembly with a compound material like silicone rubber gels or epoxy resins. This protects the assembly from vibrations, shock, and elements like moisture and dust.

 

Consistently potting electronic assemblies is critical for protecting them. However, with so many variables involved, such as resin temperature, dispensing speed, and mixing ratios, effective potting can be a challenge. Luckily, the experts at RiverSide have a wealth of experience in potting electronics to help them withstand the harshest conditions.

 

Conformal Coating

 

While potting protects electronic assemblies, conformal coating helps to protect printed circuit boards (PCB) and their components. Conformal coating is a thin polymeric film that covers the PCB to protect it against extreme temperatures and airborne contaminates like moisture, chemicals, and dust. Because conformal coating is thin, it adds minimal weight while still protecting and insulating the PCB.

 

With our expertise and extensive ruggedized electronics capabilities, your assemblies can withstand the harshest conditions.  We can provide protective options that best apply to any particular application in the environment that your device will be exposed to and operating within. From the bilge of a boat to a coal fired power plant, we can help your electronic assemblies thrive. To learn more about our ruggedized electronics, contact RiverSide Electronics at (507) 523-3220 today.