Electronic Components

PCB assembly

Circuit boards, Assemble!

We’re not quite the Avengers, but we do know a thing or two about assembly.

As an electronic component supplier, Lantek works to get customers the electronic components they are looking for. Further down the line, manufacturers construct the printed circuit boards (PCBs) featuring our sourced components.

The assembly of a PCB is a delicate and painstaking process. Just one millimetre of misalignment could mean failure of the whole board. Here’s a brief run-down of what’s involved.

Applying solder paste

The first step in the assembly of a PCB is applying a layer of solder paste. The PCB is overlayed with a stencil, and the solder paste is applied over this. The right amount must be used, as this is spread evenly across the openings on the board.

After the stencil and applicator are removed the PCB will be left and moves on to stage two.

Pick and place

The automated placement of the surface mount devices (SMDs) is done by a ‘pick and place’ robot.

The pick and place machine will have a file containing all of the coordinates for the PCB’s components. Every component will have its X and Y coordinates and its orientation included. This information enables the robot to place components on the layer of solder on top of the PCB accurately.

Reflow soldering

From the pick and place machine the PCBs are directly transferred to a 250⁰ oven, where the solder paste melts and secures the electronic components to the board. Immediately after this, the boards are moved into a cooler to harden the solder joints.

The alternative to reflow soldering is a process called wave soldering. Much like the name suggests, in this method a ‘wave’ of solder moves across the board instead of being pasted on to start with.


Once the reflow solder is cooled the PCBs are checked. If anything became misaligned or any solder or components are in the incorrect position, this inspection mitigates the risk to the customer.

When it comes to inspection methods, there are a few options:

Manual inspection – The most basic form of inspection, done with the naked eye. Better for PCBs with through hole technology (THT) and larger components.

Optical inspection – Using high resolution cameras, machines can check large batches of boards for accuracy at a high speed.

X-ray inspection – Give technicians the ability to check inner layers of multi-layer PCBs. This inspection method is usually reserved for more complex boards.

What a Marvel!

Lantek can supply obsolete, day to day, and hard to find components to PCB manufacturers. We can source components efficiently to keep your production line running. Contact us today at, or use the rapid enquiry form on our website.

Electronic Components

The use of robotics in electronics manufacturing

The use of robotics as part of the manufacturing chain has increased in recent years, as more companies move towards automation of their services.

Robotics can limit the amount of human error possible in a production process, and can operate in confined spaces, and can even test equipment to check functionality or identify issues.

The dark side

Don’t worry, it’s not as evil as it sounds. The use of robotics is sometimes called the ‘lights out’ concept, because robots can work without requiring light. One company in Japan is pioneering this way of working.

The manufacturer uses a majority robot workforce, with almost no human intervention, to produce more manufacturing robots for their customer base, which includes Apple and Tesla.

Of course, not all manufacturers employ so many robots that they can just switch off the lights at their plants, but there are several places in the production line that robotics could speed up the manufacturing process, and many larger manufacturers have already implemented automation to a degree.

Robot wars

There are several different types of robots that are used in production, the most regular until recently being the Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm (SCARA). Other types include 6-Axis articulated arms, delta and cartesian robots.

Each robot has its own advantages and disadvantages, and as such depending on the task certain robots are a better choice than others.

SCARAs and 6-Axis robots are both robotic arms that are used for their high precision and speed. Although a 6-Axis is slightly slower, it has more flexibility and has a higher load capacity than the more traditional SCARA.

Delta robots have been used in the food and consumer goods sector for years, mainly for picking and packing purposes. They can function at a very high speed and have good repeatability, so they are a good choice for the assembly of electrical components.

Cartesian robots work on only three axes, but are smaller, simpler, and cheaper than other manufacturing robots. Cartesians may be a good fit for smaller businesses, who have limited production space and have to consider a more multipurpose or customisable robot.

Testing, testing

Robots are not only great for manufacturing, they can also help in the inspection of products. Robots that feature mounted cameras can check electronics to ensure they have been assembled correctly with no issues with the alignment or soldering. Automated optical inspections (AOI) and automated x-ray inspections can be performed with these robots. If an arm mounted with an infrared camera is used, it can check hotspots on a circuit board or other thermal issues with the circuitry.

There is a distinct possibility that the future holds even further automation, and with the current shortage in electronic components many manufacturers hope that this will go some way to helping production.

Lantek are specialists in hard-to-find and obsolete components. If you’re struggling for stock or want to check out what electronic components we can supply to you, contact us at Or use the rapid enquiry form on our website.