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SOLDER PASTE STENCILS ARE ANCIENT HISTORY!

Removing the use of stencils for applying solder paste seven years ago helped to put Gemini Tec on the path to sustained success and business growth, with PCBA production topping 100,000 units in 2015.

Back in 2008, Gemini Tec – already a successful CEM – made the bold decision to become only the second company in the UK to invest in solder jet technology for applying solder paste to PCBs. The company bought one of the first MY500 solder jet printers and, very soon, this proved to be so beneficial that the company decided it would never use stencils again.

Gemini Tec have never once regretted this decision and, as a ringing endorsement of solder jet technology, they have recently purchased a second, one of the latest MY600 jet printers to help them cope with the continuing growth in demand they are seeing from customers new and old.

“The secret of our success is, in fact, no secret at all,” said Gemini Tec director, Adam Harsant. “It’s simply our ability to consistently deliver outstanding quality, with negligible reject rates, on even the most complex and demanding boards. Furthermore, we do this promptly and cost effectively. In short we’ve developed an enviable reputation for doing a great job first time every time. Mycronic products, and the jet printers in particular, have played a big part in helping us to build this reputation.”

The most obvious benefit of jet printing technology is that it allows precisely the right amount of solder paste to be applied to every pad on a PCB. This means that any mix of components can be mounted without problems – even, for example, BGAs right next to tiny 01005 devices. Gemini Tec customers find this especially attractive as it frees their engineers from the “old fashioned design rules” that have to be observed when solder is applied with stencils. In turn, this means that designers have greater flexibility in their design functionality leading to smaller boards being designed to meet the demand for ever-smaller electronic products.

Because of the accuracy and controllability of solder deposition, board failure rates are minimal, even when hard-to-mount components are used, and rework is rarely needed. This helps Gemini Tec to keep down costs and also ensures that delivery schedules are met.

Eliminating stencils also makes it possible for Gemini Tec to respond rapidly to customer requirements, as there are no delays while stencils are designed, ordered and manufactured. But jet printing has even more to offer, says Adam Harsant.

“We’ve recently won a hotly contested contract from a large company in the automotive sector, and one of the things that this company looked at in detail was our environmental performance. Here, jet printing gave us an important edge as solder paste wastage is virtually eliminated and we have no need for the potentially noxious chemicals that are used for cleaning stencils. These factors undoubtedly strengthened our competitive position not only with this particular customer, but also with many others.”

Gemini Tec has also benefitted by being able to release the storage and handling space that used to be needed for the stencils, which has provided valuable room for the company to expand its manufacturing operations.

“Unlike the situation in 2008 when we bought our first jet printer, most CEMs now realise that jet printing has a lot going for it, but many still believe that it’s only suitable for low volume applications,” said Adam Harsant. “Our experience, however, emphatically proves that this isn’t the case.”

“For several years, we have been using our MY500 with a Mycronic Synergy production line that has a capacity of 30,000 cph, and it’s proved to be the perfect match. Now alongside this set up, we’re operating our new MY600 in partnership with our latest Synergy line, which is made up of two of the latest MY200SX/LX14 pick-and-place machines and has a throughput of 40,000 cph. This is also proving to be an excellent match, and has given a big boost to our manufacturing capacity.”

Gemini Tec was a pioneer in the use of solder jet printing in the UK and it’s clear that the company’s bold decision to adopt this unique technology in 2008 has been fully justified. Jet printing, along with Mycronic’s versatile pick-and-place equipment, has given Gemini Tec a strong portfolio of competitive advantages including flexibility, responsiveness, environmental friendliness and, above all, exceptional quality. Customers who require rapid delivery prototypes, through to production batches of 1000 pcs of will enjoy the benefits that solder jet printing delivers.

The Directors and staff at Gemini Tec welcome any potential customers to visit their superbly equipped SMT facility to gain a deeper insight into jet printing capability and how its comprehensive CEM services can help customers with demanding electronic PCB assemblies.

Author
Gemini Tec Ltd

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