PCB Assembly

What is Through Hole PCB Assembly?

Through Hole PCB Assembly

There are two ways how a printed circuit board is produced and assembled – one is through SMT assembly and the other is through hole assembly. In this article, we will explore through-hole PCB assembly and learn what it is, and discover the quirks and features that make it distinguishable from other assembly methods, to top it off, we’ll also explore which areas through-hole PCBs can be utilized.

Through Hole PCB assembly: An introduction

The best way to describe what through hole PCB assembly is is that it is an approach to manufacturing electronic circuits in which the key components are installed and kept intact through the usage of leads. This process covers steps such as drilling holes into the surface of the printed circuit board before inserting the leads into these holes to anchor the components on the board.

The soldering process in through hole PCB assembly is done through either wave soldering or manual soldering to solidify the position of the leads and components mounted on the board.

Through Hole Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Key features and quirks of Through Hole PCB Assembly

The through hole method of assembling circuit boards has key features that make it unique when compared to SMT or surface mount technology assembly. In this section, we’ll explore each of through-hole method’s quirks and key features to understand this approach to manufacturing circuit boards better. Here are some of its key features and quirks unique to it:

1. Made for prototyping, repeat testing and revisions

When it comes to prototyping and PCB testing, the through hole PCB assembly is made for that purpose. Since the board’s components are mounted through mechanical and manual means, they can be replaced and adjusted; if not moved from the current position. As a result, the through-hole-made PCBs are ideal for repeated testing to check whether the electronic configuration works as intended.

2. Reliable for work operations

Compared to SMT-made printed circuit boards, PCBs created via through-hole assembly are made to last longer in intense work operations. That’s because it offers a better and more robust physical connection making it preferred for niches that have high standards for reliability.

Examples of these niches that would require the use of through hole PCBs are the aerospace and automotive industries as their tools and devices are exposed to intense work and extreme conditions.

3. Built to last longer

Through hole PCB assembly gives way to highly durable circuit boards that have a higher resistance against heat and stress exposure. As a result, these circuit boards tend to show up frequently in industrial settings such as factory machinery. The circuit boards, due to their high heat resistance and durability, can also find them being utilized in lighting – most notable examples are commercial billboards that require strong lights to be seen at night.

On top of that, through-hole-made circuit boards require fewer changes from time to time. The only likely moment you’ll repair or replace a through-hole circuit board is when they are at the end of their working lifespan.

4. Less efficient manufacturing compared to SMT assembly

Another quirk that through hole PCB assembly has is that it has a slower pace of workflow compared to its SMT-built counterparts. The extra steps that involve drilling through the surface of the PCB, the addition of the leads, and the placement of components through manual means make this procedure more time-consuming.

In turn, the PCBs made this way are a little more costly and have lesser efficiency in terms of production.

5. Not as customizable as SMT-assembled PCBs

One caveat that is notable among through hole assembled circuit boards is that it is not as customizable as the SMT-made ones. That’s because the surfaces of the circuit boards had to be drilled with many holes studded all over the substrate which complicates the layout’s design. In turn, the need to anchor and space the components with the proper distance contributes to the board’s large size.

PCB Through Hole Assembly

When to utilize Through Hole assembled PCBs?

Since we now have a clearer understanding of the key features and quirks of through hole PCB assembly, let’s delve deeper by knowing when and where you can best apply the PCBs made through this method. Here are some factors you can use to know whether your project is best suited for through-hole assembled circuit boards.

1. When work settings have extreme conditions

If your work environment involves either one of the two conditions which are extreme temperatures or intense workloads; you can consider using PCBs made by the through-hole method of assembly. That’s because as stated earlier, PCBs created by through hole PCB assembly are meant to last longer against constant use and exposure to harsh elements.

On top of that, the circuit boards require fewer repairs and replacements provided that you are properly maintaining their working condition.

2. Niches that require high-reliability circuit boards

Certain niches will require components that are least likely to break down during operation, and that’s where the circuit boards made via through hole PCB assembly come into the picture. Notable niches that demand reliable PCBs are aviation, automotive, industrial, and military areas in which high-reliability components ensure the proper functioning of their electronics.

3. Power electronics

Components that are manufactured by through hole PCB assembly are ideal candidates for power electronics. That’s because the through hole PCBs have higher heat and electrical resistance and carrying capabilities compared to surface-mount made ones allowing them to enable power electronics such as switches, power amplifiers, and generators.

4. Mixed technology setups

Certain devices may require a hybrid setup which consists of surface mount PCBs and through hole PCBs to ensure proper functioning. Examples of mixed technology setups that may call for through hole PCBs are audio devices, medical tools, and electronics and telecommunications equipment.

Without one of the two types of PCBs, it’s either the device won’t work or will not function as it is supposed to do.

Through-hole PCB assembly – reliable and lost-lasting

To sum up, what we’ve covered, through hole PCB assembly-made circuit boards offer big advantages in the form of being very reliable and long-lasting; needing fewer repairs and replacements. It is, however, not as customizable and cannot be mass-produced like SMT-assembled boards.

Despite its caveats, through hole PCBs are still an essential piece of technology in many areas in which, without it – devices that demand high performance might cease functioning.

Additional Resources:

    Request for Quote