SMT (Surface Mount Technology) needs several types of equipment. Pick-and-Place machine is the heart of surface mount. A pick-and-place machine picks and places electronic components onto the PCB prior to soldering. These machines generally contribute to about 50% of the total cost of a complete SMT production line.
Some surface mount placement machine (pick-and-place machine) is very versatile and are capable of placing many different components used in electronics, while others are dedicated to a few component types.
Pick-and-Place machines use vacuum pickup tools to hold the components. Few others also use vision-assisted alignment. In general, pick-and-place machines offer better speed, accuracy, and flexibility than through-hole insertion machines.
Pick-and-place machines for fine pitch (0.5mm) and ultra fine pitch (0.4mm – 0.3mm) placement machines require greater dexterity and precision placement capability. Some of these machines cut and form the leads of the IC package at the time of placement in order to avoid component lead damage due to mishandling. This feature increases process accuracy and precision capabilities.
The number of machines required to adequately assemble all surface mount components varies depending on the type of components being assembled and the through-put desired by the manufacturer.
Dedicated SMT placement machine can achieve the greatest through-put. Some companies also use dedicated robots for placement of surface mount components. The equipment is generally inexpensive, but the software and hardware development costs are higher.