FARGO, N.D. — Packet Digital reached another milestone to begin 2024, with its first circuit board assembled in-house. While custom circuit board design has been part of the company’s profile for years, the installation of a SMT line at its new manufacturing center in Fargo, ushers in a new era for engineering capabilities.
“It is an honor to bring our designs into existence for the first time using Packet Digital’s internal processes,” SMT Engineer Cord Palmer said.
SMT is the process of mounting electronic components directly onto the surface of a PCB. The process is automated, allowing boards to be produced quicker and more accurately than manual population of components.
The process begins with the solder paste printer, which places solder on the board, followed by the solder paste inspection machine, which verifies that the paste was applied correctly. When the solder application process is complete, electronic components are then placed on circuit boards by the high-speed pick and place machine. It takes individual components from reels or trays and places them precisely where they belong on the PCB on top of the solder paste. The optical inspection machine then allows assemblers to detect any placement issues and ensure the quality of each individual component on the board.
Once the board has passed automated optical inspection, it moves to the multi-zone reflow oven where the solder is melted to make electro-mechanical connections with the components. After this, the board is complete and moves on to QA testing, programming, coating and final assembly into products.
“With our state-of-the-art SMT line, we will push the boundaries of what is possible in the circuit board design/manufacturing world,” Palmer said.