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There are different ways you can assemble micro-electrical components on a printed surface board. And the surface mount assembly is more popular than the electro-mechanical assembly.

Nonetheless, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. To understand the difference between the two, you must have an overview of both methods.

Surface Mount Assembly

This method is a way to produce electrical circuits by directly placing or mounting the components on the surface of printed circuit boards. In this method, all components or devices are mounted on the board with the help of a solder mask.

If the assembly method is surface mount assembly, the production process will be incredibly fast. However, it has many drawbacks as well.

For instance, even though the production process significantly speeds up, it simultaneously increases the risk of defects during the assembly process.

This is largely because of the miniaturization of the components, along with the denser packing of boards.  In these conditions, testing and inspection for failures and errors become increasingly critical in the manufacturing process. The manufacturing of printed surface boards using surface mount assembly includes a sequence of processes.

The assembly process starts with the application of solder paste. This is the substance on which the electrical components are mounted. After you apply the solder mask to the board, you move forward to placing the components. This can be done manually or with the help of machines.

This process then moves ahead to the reflow soldering process, after which all the excess solder is cleaned. After these steps, the surface mount assembly process is complete, and you can move on to the testing phase of the printed circuit board.

Electro-Mechanical Assembly

Electro-mechanical assembly is heavily reliant on machinery and other automatic drive units. Electronic products consist of interconnections and many components. These components can also be devices that alter the flow of electricity, such as resistors, conductors, and capacitors.

The circuit board assembly is, therefore, the driving force of most electronic products since it provides the channel through which electricity can pass to all components. There are two ways components can mount to the circuit boards. And most electro-mechanical assembly processes focus on the through-hole process.

In this process, each component comes with leads, which fit inside the through-holes of the circuit board.  These types of components are very old since the through-hole method has been used for a very long time.

Which One is Better?

In terms of cost, surface mount assembly is more cost-effective for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that SMT components are much easier to find. Another reason is that there are many services that manufacture a surface-mounted printed board exactly to your specifications.

Not to mention, for the low price that it offers, it also provides better design quality and speed. Moreover, testing through-holes can be difficult and may require specialized testing equipment, which will, in turn, have you spend more on testing.

Final Words

Electronic assembly process techniques are sometimes integrated into the surface mount assembly process, depending on the product you deal with. Therefore, it is difficult to say whether one is better than the other because projects can vary vastly.

However, it is fair to say that the through-hole method is outdated and has more drawbacks than the surface mount technology.

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Nova is a full-service printed circuit board assembler located in Denver, Colorado.