Surface Mount Connectors

Written by Jarret Ewanek
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Surface mount connectors are components that affix new circuits to a printed circuit board. In the past, this was achieved using through-hole technology. This procedure involved simply puncturing holes in a printed circuit board, and then attaching circuits to the board using wire, which was woven through the holes. This method was replaced by surface mount technology.

SMT components are affixed to the PCB either though soldering or intricate interlocking coupling. Surface mount connectors are permanently attached to the printed circuit board through the effects of surface tension. Surface tension is a phenomenon that occurs when a liquid takes on properties associated with a solid. This phenomenon is experienced by a third-party, such as the surface of the PCB.

The Inner Workings of Surface Mount Connectors

A surface mount connector is aligned with a specific section of a printed circuit board, corresponding to the placement of certain wires and other circuits within the system. The connector, which will either feature a ball grid array or a flat head mount at one end, is placed in conjunction to a flat mount area on the board. The mount area is often coated with a light film of nearly liquefied solder that acts as an adhesive. The circuit board is then heated, with either a soldering gun or a special oven, depending on the type of connector in use.

As the printed circuit board is heated, the end of the surface mount connector begins to gradually melt. As this occurs, the now malleable end of the connector is carried along the surface of the initial coat of adhesive solder, spreading itself across as it connects to all of the circuitry in a predetermined area. Once the connector has reached it's destination, the printed circuit board is allowed to cool. As the board cools, the connector regains it's original solid properties, only it is now fused to the circuitry. From here it is poised to transmit energy and data from the device to the PCB.

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