Smart Made Simple discuss why ‘first time’ prototype builds can be a very frustrating stop-start and time consuming process!

By Pete Joburns, Principal Engineer, Smart Made Simple

One of the biggest issues for a manufacturer with any new prototype product build is the limited numbers of PCB’s and components available for any form of evaluation.

Usually there are no available sample parts for machine set up.

Traditional production would have to design a screen print stencil, planning for >75% paste release, component size and solder pad variation can influence the requirement for step stencils.

Machine set up may show up a stencil problem requiring a new stencil or some rework, or a critical last minute design change!

With placement, the biggest issue is that not all the parts supplied will be available in tape and reel. Usually, loose parts are common for prototypes, and volume placement machines are not best suited to this type of loose component manufacture.

Reflow is probably the most demanding element of the process; designing a profile is complex and standard convection reflow is not a one take profile setting. The issue is with over or under cooking and the inevitable rework (or scrap) if it goes wrong.
New products tend to have unfamiliar components, and invariably these are heat sensitive (like optic devices, or MEMs), and the low temperature peak package temperatures of heat sensitive devices can compromise the reflow profiling settings for the whole card, and in some cases the solder paste, forcing the only remaining option – manual attach methods.

Finding a SMART solution.

To improve the chances of successful manufacture first time through, our engineers designed a state of the art process, smart manufacture that is fast, super-efficient and friendly to the product.


High speed 3D jet solder paste printing, with a self-healing post print verification process that detects and replaces missing print, ensuring 100% paste deposit – always. Stencil printing is limited to aperture stencil designs and consequently, 3D printing offers flexibility: can print various patterns, various thicknesses, pin in paste, rework, and solder voiding control.


A placement machine that accepts reels, sticks, trays and even cut tape parts. Fast change/over simple setup.



Vapor phase reflow that can take all types of cards from the very small to quite large all with no change to the reflow profile. Uniform heat, which never exceeds peak package temperatures.



The deployment of flying probe test, ideal for prototypes and low volume manufacture. Fast test set up with high test coverage.  It’s Smart Made Simple.



About SMS – Smart Made Simple

The U.K.’s leading Manufacturing Service Provider.

From concept to creation, to commercialisation, to customer, for all technology companies. Whether you are a start-up, or an established household brand name, if you have a design, engineering, manufacturing or supply chain problem, thanks to the diversity of our experience and scalable service, SMS has the solution.

Since 1920, SMS has manufactured electronics products from the same home in Nottingham, U.K. For almost 100 years, we have been the company behind the ideas, offering agile and adaptive supply chain solutions, that bring products to market faster, smarter and simpler.

Leader in the specialist low volume, highly complex manufacturing services market space, SMS has earned critical industry facility certifications, that brings full viability and credibility to the aerospace & defence, communications, industrial and medical markets. SMS brings the right scale, capabilities and competitive solutions to customers needing high-reliability attention, product realisation and supply chain optimisation.

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