You need to get delicate surface mount components onto your printed circuit boards (PCB) quickly and accurately. Is it better to rely on manual techniques, or is automatic pick and place the way to go? Learn more about the pros and cons of manual methods and automatic pick and place machines to find out which SMT (surface mount technology) solution will work best for your business.
As the name suggests, any type of pick and place involves first picking up a small component and then placing it precisely onto your PCB. It sounds simple enough. In manual pick and place, tweezers or a vacuum pipette are used to grab parts and add them to circuit boards.
Unfortunately, this method of PCB assembly is prone to many operator-related errors. Many passive components lack part markings, and tweezers make component rotation difficult.
Although manual pick and place may seem to cost less upfront in machinery purchases, you may be paying for it in quality, accuracy, and time.
For growing businesses that need more volume and precision, machine-assisted pick and place can make a difference. Benchtop or desktop pick and place machines have electronic heads that are manually moved along the x and y-axis by your technician.
Where fully the manual process requires your technician to hand solder, these desktop setups can usually include solder paste dispensing as well.
Even if you’re starting off small, it’s important to consider the future when choosing your PCB assembly methods. Automatic Pick and place machines have been around for decades and are the industry standard for SMT manufacturing for good reason.
Your PCB components are loaded into specialized feeders and accessed by a robotic head and arm. The head is programmed to pick up each part and set it accurately onto the printed circuit board.
If upfront costs are causing you to hesitate on purchasing automatic pick and place machines, consider buying used SMT equipment. You get the benefit of today’s technologies with less to invest at startup.
Now that you know more about the differences between manual and automatic methods of pick and place for PCB assembly, we invite you to explore the inventory of used SMT equipment at Capital Equipment Exchange. Contact us to start your order or get more information about a specific pick and place machine.