A crucial phase in the manufacturing process is the placement of electronic components on the PCB. Two of the most prominent methods for printed circuit boards assembly include surface and through-hole mounting.
Manually inserting the connecting wires of components through the holes of the printboard is, as the name implies, called ‘through-hole mounting’. Plated-Through Hole (PTH) components rely on plated holes within the PCB to pass a signal from one side of the board to the other. In such cases, soldering paste would simply run straight through the holes, and thus require specialized methods.
Here, the boards pass through several stations where each agent manually inserts a designated PTH component. The cycle is repeated for each PTH that needs insertion.
This method is the automated version of manual soldering. The PTH component is put in place after which a wave of molten solder washes over the bottom of the board in a specialized oven. This solders all of the pins on the bottom of the board simultaneously, making this the preferred technique for single-sided PCBs. In the case of double sided PCBs, these are hand soldered due to the increased risk of losing the components in the lead fountain.
Utilizing through hole technologies (THT) is advised for projects where surface mounting is not enough. In certain cases, THT offers stronger mechanical attachment points and improves the heat resistance of the printboards. These types of components are not directly in contact with the PCB and therefore emit their heat straight into their surroundings, without using the PCB as a heat sink. Because they are soldered to both sides of the board through a PTH hole, the THT components benefit from enhanced mechanical bonds.
THT are also easier to manually mount at home. Most early prototypes and proof of concepts are made thanks to these old and trusted components. This allows you to try out all your possible configurations in order to be certain of the possible behaviour of your prototype when it is eventually assembled. THT is often used as a stepping stone for designers in order to get a better insight into their project.
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