Production & Fabrication
Thomas Instrumentation’s production and assembly teams consist of highly trained, experienced individuals who take pride in their work. It is our employee’s attention to detail, our process of quick inspections at every step, and our ability to manufacture both leaded and RoHS/lead free compliant products which sets us apart from our competitors. Once a customer chooses us for their production needs, that customer’s product may visit each of the following three production phases:
Surface Mount Production
Our production line is capable of handling both single-sided and double-sided boards as well as production volumes ranging from very low to very high. Our machines can handle board sizes ranging from 2.7” x 2” to 17.4” x 20”. If a customer has a board that is under the minimum size, we can easily panelize the product and/or use break-off rails. Panelizing a product also greatly increases the throughput of this product and decreases its cost.
The surface mount production line consists of a MPM Momentum 100 screen printer, two MyData MY100 series pick and place machines, and a Heller 1707 MKIII reflow oven. More detailed information for each machine can be found on our Surface Mount Line page. The following are brief descriptions of our process and of each type of machine:
Phase 1- The MPM Momentum 100
This screen printer is used at the start of our production process to uniformly apply solder paste to the bare PCB boards. Our MPM machine requires a solder stencil to accurately apply the paste layer to the board. With a new customer product, we will order a solder stencil for your board. If you have an existing solder stencil, our printer may be able to utilize that stencil.
Once the solder paste is applied to a panel or board, it is automatically inspected for consistency and accuracy via the on-board camera. Boards with issues are reprinted if the operator decides it is reasonable to do so. If it is an issue that prevents reprinting, the board is hand cleaned and re-screened from scratch. Boards with quality solder application are unloaded to a conveyor to await population by the MyData machines.
Phase 2 – The MyData MY100 Series
Our SMT pick and place line consists of two in-line MyData MY100 series machines operating in line mode. Line mode means that this machine works in tandem, allowing each machine to populate a portion of each board. Each machine is capable of placing up to 16,000 CPH (components per hour) and in line mode, these machines can place up to 32,000 CPH. These speeds allow us to manufacture surface mount products at a very high rate. Once a board or panel has been populated by the machines, it is quickly inspected for any problems prior to conveyance into the oven.
Phase 3 – The Heller 1707 MKIII
Our oven has 7 zones and a temperature accuracy of +/- 1°C. Before a production run, each new product is first profiled in the oven to ensure the product will have proper reflow. Once the profile is complete, the production process can begin. Upon completion of the reflow process, the oven places each product on a conveyer to await its final quick inspection. All inspected boards are then placed into metal storage racks which are taken to the Assembly Department.
Typically all products, whether they contain through-hole parts or not, are transferred to the Assembly Department for processing. For both through-hole and surface mount products, the assembly team breaks up any panels of boards, assigns and adheres serial numbers (if applicable), and creates official batches of products for in-house traceability. Once a batch is created, our assembly team places and solders any required through-hole parts such as connectors, jumpers, keypads, displays, buttons, heatsinks, etc.
Our assembly team is also experienced at manufacturing cables, wire harnesses, transformers, etc. for a large variety of products. If a customer chooses Thomas Instrumentation for their cable assembly needs, those items are built in conjunction with the hardware batch.
Products enter this phase if the customer has hired Thomas Instrumentation to install their systems in the final product enclosure. This step occurs once the board, cabling, and any other necessary items have been fully assembled, QC’d, and tested. Our assembly team typically mounts the hardware to the enclosure with mounting screws and takes care not to short out the board. Then our team attaches the wiring to the appropriately labeled connections, zip-ties the wires for cleanliness, and adds strain-relief to any wiring that might require it. Once everything has been carefully installed, the enclosure is closed and/or sealed and ready for shipment.