FARGO, N.D. – Oct. 24, 2023 — Upon the announcement of expanding its manufacturing footprint with a new building in January 2023, Packet Digital is happy to announce the building is on track to open in Q4 of 2023. One of the key milestones in achieving this goal was the installation of a surface mount technology (SMT) line — the first of its kind for Packet Digital.
The SMT line allows Packet Digital to manufacture its own printed circuit boards (PCBs) in-house. Up to 130 unique components can be populated on each side of the board, primarily using a lead-free process. With board assembly done in-house, Packet Digital will now be able to optimize designs for an efficient manufacturing process.
Control of production timelines as well as flexibility in PCB sourcing allows Packet Digital to offer more reliable timelines and better pricing to its customers. Assembled PCBs will be incorporated into existing Packet Digital products such as battery packs and chargers, in addition to direct sales to strategic partners.
To accomplish these goals, a variety of machines were installed to complete the SMT line, including: a solder paste printer, solder paste inspection, pick and place machine, optical inspection, and multi-zone reflow oven. Aside from the machinery itself, humidity controls and electrostatic discharge (ESD) flooring were installed to ensure quality production.
What is an SMT line?
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 and inspection machines that place solder on the board and verify that it 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 our assemblers to detect any issues and ensure the quality of each individual component on the board.
Once the board has been cleared for production, 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 now complete and moves on to QA testing, programming, coating and final assembly into products.