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50 SMT Magazine • August 2017 ARTICLE by Westin Bent ALPHA ASSEMBLY SOLUTIONS Electronics manufacturing has evolved from the early days of hand soldering and wave sol- dering to the more modern surface mount tech- nology (SMT) process. Most modern electronics are produced using the SMT process, but there are still some mixed technology applications, such as assemblies that are produced using both the SMT process and the wave soldering pro- cess. The number of mixed technology assem- blies has decreased over time due to advances in the SMT process and the cost savings and in- creased efficiencies associated with eliminating the wave soldering process. The recent electronics industry transition from SnPb-based alloys to lead-free alloys has provided electronics manufacturers with the in- centive to try to eliminate the wave soldering process step due to the following: 1. Need for equipment upgrades in order to process new lead-free alloys 2. Higher energy costs due to the higher processing temperatures of the lead-free alloys 3. Higher material costs associated with lead-free alloys 4. Increased efficiency associated with eliminating an additional process step 5. Ability to avoid exposing the assembly to the additional thermal stresses introduced by the wave soldering process Advances in the SMT process such as the de- velopment of the pin-in-paste (PiP) process, has enabled the soldering of through-hole compo- nents during SMT processing, eliminating the need for the wave process. In the pin-in-paste process the solder paste is first printed directly on top of the through-holes on the cir cuit board. The through-hole component pins are then inserted PROCESS STEP ELIMINATION: Driven by Cost and Efficiency, Enabled by Process and Materials Innovation

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