Assembling Printed Circuit Boards is a very complicated process. Mounting all the solder joints on the board at once is by far the most challenging aspect of the process, especially when you’re dealing with surface-mount devices (SMDs). Thankfully, operators can now use an SMT stencil to get through the dicey and error-prone printing phase with relative ease. Stencils ensure that solder joints are mounted perfectly on the PCB pads.
Stencils are ultra-thin sheets of materials featuring unique formations of apertures that resemble the layouts of the components on the PCBs.
Through these apertures, soldering professionals can accurately deposit appropriate amounts of solder paste across the PCB with maximum precision.
Once the solder paste has been placed evenly across the board, the board is ready to be surface mounted.
The immaculate deposition of solder paste helps create solder joints with impeccable mechanical strength.
So, companies shouldn’t think twice before buying or using SMT stencils, right? Well, the process isn’t as simple as it seems. Quality control managers at electronics manufacturing companies where thousands of solder joints are created every single day are under immense pressure. They need their stencils to be perfect.
One error or flaw in the stencil can ruin an entire production batch. That’s why partnering with a reliable manufacturer of SMT stencil is vital for electronics manufacturing companies. Here’s a guide to finding reliable suppliers of SMT and PCB stencils –
Now, most suppliers of PCB stencils will claim to provide high-quality products. To test the reliability of their promises, customers must ask whether they stock both types of stencils - framed and frameless. If the company offers both, ask the sellers what steps they take to improve their stencils’ paste-release capacities. Some stencil manufacturers apply certain types of coating on their stencils to make them more suited for high-volume printing. Find out more about such quality-related details before making a purchase.
Can your manufacturer of SMT stencils support quick-turn manufacturing processes? Many electronics manufacturing companies are obsessed with fast turnarounds. These companies need to be partnered with stencil manufacturers who have the same result-oriented spirit.
Ask the stencil manufacturer about the systems they use to check designs before orders are finalized.
What steps have the stencil manufacturers taken to avoid hold-ups and product delays in the past?
What are the stencil manufacturer’s minimum and quantity policies? Are they suited for your orders?
Do the stencil manufacturers provide detailed information about shipping and deliveries?
Your potential stencil partner has to have specific systems put in place to support large demands in short time periods.
The best stencil manufacturers use nickel-stainless alloys to create their products. That’s because this alloy offers low surface tension. The super-smooth aperture walls on the stencils allow solder paste to be deposited without any hiccups. Such high-quality alloys don’t even need nanocoating layers to perform well. Make sure your printing stencils are manufactured using such high-quality devices.
Lastly, check the stencil manufacturer’s track record in the industry. They must have at least ten years (or more) of experience selling SMT and PCB stencils.