Solder Jet Printers!

You’ve spent months developing your newest product—a revolutionary medical device sure to transform the healthcare world. The mechanical parts are sourced, with other custom parts 3D printed for your first batch of prototypes. And you’ve brought on your electronics contract manufacturer to build 25 circuit boards for testing. Rush fees are gladly paid to meet critical deadlines set by management and the board of directors. A couple days after making your orders with various suppliers, the contract manufacturer calls you with an issue: too much solder is causing bridging between fine pitch leads. Even though you need the PCBAs last month, they’ll need to be pushed out an additional day so a new stencil can be ordered (hopefully one that works this time).

As the products we design become more complex, using smaller parts and electronic components, there are naturally more opportunities for failure—when building them, and when putting them to use. Issues become especially prominent when production is done with machines that aren’t up-to-par with a product’s technological requirements. When it comes to circuit board assembly, most contract manufacturers have a weak link in their solder application process, relying on stencil technology that hasn’t significantly evolved since it was developed decades ago.

With stencil printers, it’s nearly impossible to successfully manage solder volume variance, board cavities, and flexible substrates without a significant degree of re-work after the PNP. A solution to the problems that arise with stencil/screen printers is to move to the latest in solder application technology—jet printing. Unlike stencil printers, where solder deposited at each pad is dependent on paste squeegeed over an aperture, jet printing automates the process and “drops” solder on the pads via a program derived from Gerber/CAD files. In just seconds, an operator can move from one project to the next, with options for leaded and lead-free solder. If results aren’t optimal after a first run, simply fine-tune solder volume, position, and geometry from component to component and make it right without delays. The classic issue in PCB assembly is when a stencil needs to be re-ordered after finding an issue with aperture geometry. With jet printing, these throughput stalls are virtually eliminated.

Caltronics is committed to the future of surface-mount assembly technology, and we feature a solder jet printer as part of our SMT assembly process. Paired with our other state-of-the-art machines and team of professionals, you can be confident that you’re getting quality and consistency unmatched. Please let us know if you’d like to learn more about our jet printer or other capabilities that help improve your products!