Automation-ready, discrete components offer design flexibility and facilitate SMT reflow while eliminating coplanarity issues. New connector designs leverage solderball pin technology to optimize board-to-board and specialized interconnect arrays.
The growing use of multi-board modular product designs across a widening range of electronics applications is driving the need for advanced interconnect technologies that can deliver a high degree of design flexibility and soldering efficiency, while also leveraging high-speed automated production processes.
The use of daughter-board modules offers numerous advantages such as:
Enhanced configuration flexibility with module-based options
Improved thermal management by segregating heat-generating components
Production and logistics efficiency by building/stocking at sub-assembly levels
Opportunities for sub-contractor production of many module-level assemblies
Length and width dimensional reduction of main/mother board
To maximize these advantages, designers and manufacturers need interconnect solutions that conform with industry-standard SMT processes while simultaneously overcoming the challenging coplanarity issues that can be roadblocks to consistently achieving reliable inter-board surface mount connections.
Originally pioneered by Autosplice, discrete Solderball Pin™ Technology incorporates precisely-formed spheres of RoHS-compliant solder on high-current carrying copper terminals packaged in continuous tape-and-reel automation-ready formats.
Available in a variety of different configurations, pin-lengths and materials, Solderball Pins can be integrated into virtually any daughter module, with the solderballs then providing a standards-based SMT interface for subsequent parallel assembly of the daughter-board to the mother-board. Currently available standard products include through-hole, SMT and SMT High Power pin styles, with stack heights ranging from .100 to .170 inches and pin diameters from .033 to .070 inches.
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During final assembly and reflow, the Solderball Pins also provide auto-compensation for coplanarity differences between the PCBs, enabling the daughter module to settle onto the main board and assuring consistent formation of solder fillets for all pins. With non-coplanar boards, some solderballs will compress while others will columnize, in each case ensuring a robust solder joint.
As discrete auto-placeable components, Solderball Pins also give PCB designers the freedom to determine the optimal pattern and positioning of individual interconnects based on specific application requirements. Discrete Solderball Pins also allow for designers to optimize PCB trace layout and shorten electrical path lengths. In addition, for products being migrated to high-speed SMT processes, using Solderball Pins allows for layout consistency between new SMT versions and through-hole legacy versions to provide a smooth transition.
As product designs have become more compact and densely populated, Solderball Pin Technology is playing a key role in both conserving board space by enabling greater layout flexibility and reducing the space between PCBs by minimizing connector sizes.
Multi-board, modular PCB assemblies, such as small switching power supplies, have become key elements used in electronic products across a wide spectrum of industries, including telecom, networking, computing, industrial controls, medical, and avionics. The need for more compact multi-board solutions is also being driven by the proliferation of ever smaller and feature rich mobile devices.
Some of the key challenges that manufacturers can overcome by using Solder ball Pin Technology:
Wasting board space by having to route circuitry to the connectors
Requiring extra board layers for circuit routing to connectors
Using longer electrical path lengths than is desirable
Having to stock several connector sizes for different applications
Needing special connectors to accommodate power and signal connections
Using separable connectors when the application doesn’t require separation
Transitioning through-hole designs to SMT can require extensive redesign
Wasting space between boards by using large off-the-shelf connectors
Soldering problems due to connector coplanarity and/or board flatness issues
Reliability of separable connectors
Providing optimum spacing between parallel boards – smaller than connectors and larger than just solder balls.
Providing accurate board standoff capability without extra hardware