Here’s how we assemble circuit boards for our products

2 minute read

Spencer’s PCB assembly and testing are underway and we’ve already produced and tested 35% of the entire quantity that we need for fulfilling our Kickstarter campaign.

Spencer is a part of our latest project called the CircuitMess STEM Box.

The project was successfully funded on Kickstarter and we’re currently in the midst of high-volume manufacturing and Kickstarter fulfillment.

The PCB assembly process is by far the most interesting part of the production process so here is a short behind the scenes insight into how it’s being done.

So, here’s what’s actually happening in the video:

1) Solder paste deposition using an automatic solder paste printer.

The first thing you see in the video is a paste printer applying solder paste through a steel stencil.

A stencil is a steel plate with tiny holes in it.

The machine applies solder paste through the tiny holes on the stencil. More advanced solder paste printers like this one have a camera for automatic optical inspection so that the paste gets applied correctly every time.

2) Placing the tiny components with a pneumatic pick and place machine.

This machine takes reels of components and uses tiny pneumatic suction cups to put the parts in place. It has several cameras for automatic optical inspection, real-time correction, and very high precision.

3) Reflow soldering the PCBs using a reflow oven.

In this step, the PCBs go through a big pizza oven that melts the solder paste.

The reflow oven they had in the factory was 4 meters long and funnily called “Heller”.

4) Automatic optical inspection.

Finally, after all the components are soldered in their places, the PCBs go into this big machine with several cameras that look at the PCBs and make a 3d model of the assembled board.

The machine then looks for assembly faults and highlights that to the engineer supervising the process.


I hope you find this insightful. I’ll try to document our production and fulfillment process as much as I can.

Stay tuned!

- Albert and the rest of the crew

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