A huge majority of today’s electronics are manufactured with SMT, or surface mount technology. Devices and products that use SMT have a large number of advantages over traditionally routed circuits; these devices are known as SMDs, or surface mount devices. These advantages have ensured that SMT has dominated the PCB world since its conception.
A brief history of SMT
Surface mount technology became widely used in the 1980s, and popularity has only grown from there. PCB producers quickly realised that SMT devices were much more efficient to produce than existing methods. SMT allows for production to be highly mechanised. Previously, PCBs had used wires to connect up their components. These wires were administered by hand using the through-hole method. Holes in the surface of the board had wires threaded through them, and these, in turn, connected the components together. Traditional PCBs needed humans to assist in this manufacture. SMT removed this cumbersome step from the process. Components were instead soldered onto pads on the boards instead – hence ‘surface mount’.
SMT caught on
The way that SMT lent itself to mechanisation meant that usage spread quickly throughout the industry. A whole new set of components were created to accompany this. These are often smaller than their through-hole counterparts. SMDs were able to have a much higher pin count. In general SMTs are also much more compact than through-hole circuit boards, allowing for lower transportation costs. Overall, the devices are simply much more efficient and economical. They are capable of technological advances that could not have been imaginable using through-hole.
In use in 2016
SMT has almost total domination of the PCB creation. Not only are they more efficient to produce, and smaller to transport, these little devices are also highly efficient. It is easy to see why PCB production has moved on from the wired through-hole method.