SMTA International Conference Proceedings


Authors: Brian G. Bentrim, P.E.
Company: PennEngineering
Date Published: 9/24/2006   Conference: SMTA International

Abstract: When assembling printed circuit boards, electronics manufacturers face a difficult choice. They can deal with the inconvenience and poor productivity of loose fastening hardware. Or they can use broaching fasteners, which hold circuit boards securely but can too easily damage fully populated boards if not installed properly.

Surface mount technology can now be used to add fasteners to printed circuit boards. This uses a system in which various types of fasteners are adhered directly onto a solder pad on the surface of the PCB, using the same soldering processes as the board’s other electronic components. This system is designed with productivity in mind. The fasteners come in tape-and-reel packages that are suitable for use with existing pick-and-place machines. A fastener can now be installed as quickly as 1/3 second as opposed to up to 30 seconds for a secondary operation.

Not only are there labor savings, but scrap savings as well versus the alternative method of broaching. Manufacturers typically install broaching fasteners once the boards have been fully populated with electronic components. But the broaching process, which may subject the boards to significant amounts of stress after they are populated, can ruin these very expensive populated PC boards.

There are fasteners currently available in several varieties as standard product including panel fasteners, spacers, nuts and right angle styles. The panel fastener is appropriate for applications that require easy removal and reinstallation of circuit boards. The spacers are the choice for board to board stacking and nuts a convenient means of fastening, where previously a broaching or loose fastener was selected. Right angle fasteners take a unique approach to joining components with a 90° separation.

Key Words: Fasteners, Spacers, Standoffs, Nuts

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