Who is the Best SMT Stencil Supplier

The selection of a PCB supplier is usually based on the quantities of PCBs the company can supply, the design iterations and the location. Beyond those factors, one other thing you want to consider is the supplier’s expertise. If the company has been in the business for years and handled SMT stencils for many engineers, it could be an idea of how experienced the company is.

So, in today’s article, you will find out everything you need to know about working with an SMT stencil supplier.

First, Let’s Define SMT Stencil

Different terminologies are associated with Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design. One of such terminologies is SMT Stencil.

According to RayPCB, SMT Stencil refers to the process of “transferring solder paste to a Printed Circuit Board.”

Benefits of SMT Stencil Process

If you are looking for excellent processes to manufacturing PCBs, your choice is always narrowed down to the process technologies. The Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and the Through-Hole Technology (THT) are commonly used.

Most SMT Stencil PCBs are manufactured with the SMT process technology. For that reason, the electrical components of these circuit boards have to be mounted or placed atop the PCBs.

The SMT Stencil process is needed here to ensure that the components are held in place. The solder paste is first placed over the openings made on the surface of the Surface Mount Device (SMD) to be used with the circuit board.

A stainless-steel foil is laser cut and used to make the openings on these SMDs. Once the openings have been made, the stainless-steel foil would then be removed or detached from the SMD.

It is then after this detachment that the solder paste would be used to mount or position the SMDs needed for the circuit board.

The core benefit of this process is that it reduces the time spent placing or mounting the electrical components on the PCB.

The use of the solder paste also offers excellent bonding of these components to the surface of the circuit board.

The Best SMT Stencil Suppliers

We have made a list of some of the leading SMT Stencil printers or suppliers. We did not only make in-depth research to uncover these companies’ capabilities, but also considered the flexibility of their services.

With that said, here is a detailed breakdown of some of the best SMT stencil suppliers you can find out there:

1. JHYPCB

If you are looking for an SMT stencil supplier that offers a variety of services, it has to be JHYPCB. This company offers the major stencil circuit services, ranging from Frameless SMT Stencils, Framed Electroformed SMT Stencils and BGA Reworks Stencils. The company also offers Nano SMT Stencils, Leaded Device Rework Stencils, CPF Stencils and Microporous SMT Stencils.

Below are some of the additional reasons why you want to choose JHYPCB as your favorite SMT stencil supplier:

Finest Finish

Besides the reduced costs of manufacturing SMT Stencils, one other thing to look for is the surface finish. JHYPCB promises to offer the finest surface finish, via the use of the 100% laser-cut type of stainless-steel.

Various Sizes of SMT Stencils

The company also offers a wide range of SMT Stencils. From the framed to the frameless stencils, you can be confident that the company offers them all.

JHYPCB Assures of the Best Paste Release

The stainless-steel foil is used to make a laser-cut opening on the surface where the SMDs are to be mounted on the circuit board.

However, when this foil is removed, depending on the extent of the opening, the surface might not look so neat.

Nonetheless, JHYPCB assures of the best paste release because of the non-support for the .003-inch laser that leaves rough edges on the aperture’s edge.

In contrast, this SMT stencil supplier uses the .001-inch laser beam with 98% overlap. This combination helps in creating a smoothened opening that allows for flexible solder paste release on the circuit board’s surface.

2. Stencils Unlimited

Indeed, there is no limit to how much you can get from using the service of an experienced SMT stencil supplier. Some manufacturers have focused on this field of PCB design. Stencils Unlimited is one of the leading suppliers in this field.

Since the company mostly handles SMT Stencil designs, consumers can be sure of getting nothing short of the best service.

Below are some of the SMT Stencil services the supplier offers:

Laser Cut SMT Stencils

This type of stencils is made with the traditional use of stainless-steel foil to create the opening or make holes on the PCB’s surface.

The major stencils it supplies here are:

  • Frameless SMT Stencils
  • Prototype SMT Stencils
  • Quick-turn Rework Stencils
  • Stainless-steel SMT Stencil
  • Framed SMT Stencils

Electroformed Stencils

Stencils Unlimited offers both the framed electroformed stencils and the frameless electroformed stencils.

Rework Stencils

This is the type of SMT Stencil that allows the consumer to “rework” or reconfigure the stencils. The list of rework stencils this company supplies here are:

  • Stencilmate Leadless Device Rework Stencils
  • StencilQuik BGA Rework Stencils
  • Quick-turn Rework Stencils
  • CPF Stencils
  • Flip-up Stencils

Stencils Unlimited also offers a wide range of stencils, such as the multi-level stencils (comprising the framed and the frameless multi-level stencils), framed ultraslic stencils, StikNPeel rework stencils and the Mylar and Kapton SMT Stencils.

3. StenTech

Some companies have been in the business of supplying SMT Stencils for years. StenTech makes that list, as the company has been here for well over 20 years.

But the number of years it has been in the business is just a tip of the iceberg. According to the supplier, it has one of the best SMT Stencil supply chain, with over 20 CAD designers working hard to deliver a mix of stencil circuit board thickness and quality materials.

Below are some of the additional reasons why getting your SMT Stencil manufactured by StenTech is a real deal.

The Supplier Offers Different Kinds of SMT Stencils

From the basic to the advanced forms of SMT Stencils, StenTech offers them to meet the customer’s requirements.

Here are some of the popular stencils you can get from the supplier:

  • Anti-Adhesion Advanced Nano Coated Stencils: this type of SMT Stencil is offered as one of the measures to reduce the adhesiveness of stencils. In this case, StenTech uses this adhesion to provide the stencil with the anti-adhesion properties.
  • Solder Paste Step Stencils: this type of stencils is used to control the solder paste. The process involves using several foil thicknesses on the same stencil. That way, the solder paste would be controlled in the fine pitch areas. At the same time, the solder paste would be printed or applied to the coarse pitch areas.
  • Laser Cut SMT Stencils: the supplier offers the basic stencil, which is the laser-cut. By using the latest laser technology, StenTech comfortably delivers stencils with the highest printing accuracies.
  • Electroform SMT Stencils: this type of stencils is optimized for longevity and durability. The consideration is mostly for the high-volume stencil applications.

The SMT Emulsion Screen Printing

StenTech also offers this service and it earns it the status of one of the leading SMT stencil suppliers. The SMT Emulsion Screen Printing is the company’s way of contributing to excellent printing of the stencils.

The process typically involves stretching a mesh over the frame before applying the emulsion. Through this screen-printing process, the supplier makes the stencils readily available for use in the following markets/industries:

  • Circuit boards
  • Display and advertising
  • Microelectronics
  • Automotive
  • Textile printing
  • Ceramic printing
  • Aerospace

4. Rayming Technology

Also called RayPCB, Rayming Technology is a pacesetter in the SMT Stencil industry. The company specializes in the production of “high quality laser cut PCB stencil for SMT use.” You can count on the company to provide the basic stencil that you need to start the SMT Stencil assembly.

Here are some of the additional reasons why you should choose RayPCB as your SMT stencil supplier:

RayPCB Nano-Coats the Stencils

RayPCB specializes in using nano coating for the stencils. The reason for doing this is not far-fetched from the fact that the company wants to make the solder paste compatible with the components.

By using nano coating, RayPCB achieves a better release or deposit of solder stencil even for the tiniest of components.

The Supplier Offers Varieties of Stencils

Rayming Technology also offers different kinds of stencils. This ranges from the basic PCB Stencil to the Prototype Kit-Lead Free Stencil Oversized. Others are:

  • Kit-Leaded Prototype SMT Stencil
  • Kit-Leaded Prototype PCB Stencils

One outstanding feature of these stencils is that RayPCB offers add-ons, such as:

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Board holders
  • Temperature markers
  • Grab and place tools
  • Pairs of gloves

5. BlueRing Stencils

This has got to be one of the stencil-focused suppliers. Apart from Stencils Unlimited, BlueRing Stencils is one of the SMT stencil suppliers you should contact for your stencil needs.

The company’s deep understanding of the stencil design process, having quality staff and offering a combination of design and assembly is a plus.

Below are some of the benefits of having your stencils designed by the company:

The Step Stencil Technology

The process technology used for the SMT Stencil design helps in determining what the outcome would be. BlueRing Stencils places a premium on this and that is why the supplier opted for a different kind of process technology called the Step Stencil Technology.

Before we talk about how the technology works, let us understand the existing market opportunity. Before the introduction of the Step Stencil Technology, many SMT stencil suppliers focused on using the traditional method of adjusting the apertures on the single-level stencils. The adjustments are made to facilitate the proper printing of the solder paste on the assembly components, such as large connectors, Micro-BGAs, and QFNs.

Swimbi Full PCB Manufacturing

However, the printing of the solder paste on these components is not always possible, which makes the print process of the SMT stencils relying on that process inefficient.

On the other hand, BlueRing Stencils’ Step Stencil Technology is a step in the right direction, in the sense that it improves the solder paste printing process. Here are some of the processes involved:

  • A patented laser weld process is used to create the step-up areas. Through this process, a smooth printing or application of the solder paste can be done on the stencil’s surface, without any squeegee damage.
  • The Step Stencil Technology also helps in etching or milling the relief areas into the board side of the foil. This does not only pave the way for use on rework boards, but also reduces the bridging between the board pads and the stencil. The bridging restriction is enabled by the placement of a gasket seal between the stencil and the board pads.

Production of Stencil Variations

BlueRing Stencils manufacture different kinds of stencils, as per the clients’ requirements. Below are some of the common variations it makes:

  • Large Format Stencils: the company specializes in the production of large format stencils, which are ideal for the oversized Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). The company also promises to offer different (custom) large format stencil standards, ranging from the 46-inch x 60-inch maximum large format and the 29-inch x 59-inch standard large format.
  • Laser Cut Solder Stencil: for this variation, the company assures of the laser beams to cut the circular pads with a roundness of almost 100% and a diameter of 30 to 800 µm. The company’s laser cut solder stencil service also includes “superior dimensional tolerances for finer pitch apertures” and improved aperture definition.
  • Electroformed Nickel Stencils: also called the Electroform Stencil, it is a type of stencil that offers the most superior paste release. BlueRing Stencils also made these stencils to have a “photo resist template of apertures” that match the circuit board designs, less surface area for solder paste to cling to and smoothened aperture walls.

Conclusion

The processes involved in SMT Stencils are many, but your goal should be picking an SMT stencil supplier that offers a mix of advanced technology and innovative design processes. You can count on RayPCB to handle your next stencil design from start to finish.

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