Kingston Factory Tour (Hsinchu, Taiwan)

by MAC     |     July 29, 2010

SMT Line

Of the 64 surface mount technology (SMT) lines that Kingston has globally, 12 are at the Hsinchu facility. This particular factory has 90% of production capacity dedicated towards manufacturing memory modules, with the remaining 10% focused on flash memory products.

As the name suggests, SMT is a method by which small electrical components are mounted directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). This is a more modern method than the traditional through-hole technology which requires the electrical components to have leads/pins which are inserted through pre-drilled holes and then soldered to the PCB.

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The production floor that we were brought too had about a half-dozen SMT lines dedicated solely to producing memory modules. Since each fully automated line can assemble approximately 6000 memory modules every 5 hours, and are run 24 hours per day, the overall output is quite impressive.

Although fully automated production wise, there is a healthy number of staff on-hand to help reload the machines with SMT reels and just generally keep an eye on the whole process to ensure that it runs without any unnecessary stoppages.

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Production starts off with the uncut, bare printed circuit boards (PCBs). In this example, we have SO-DIMM boards that will eventually be cut into 12 memory modules.

In the first step, these uncut PCBs go into the solder-paste printer where a precise amount of solder is applied directly to the board.

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Once pasted, the full-size PCBs are transported via conveyor belt to the SMT (surface mounting technology) machines that install capacitors, resistors, SPD EEPROMs, and memory chips onto the PCBs at unbelievable speeds.

The memory chips, resistors, and etc are all fed into the machine by the white SMT reels which can contain hundreds (if not thousands) of tiny electrical components.

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Once all the surface mounted components have been placed on the PCB, the boards are then fed into a oven and baked at 220įC. This hardens the solder and melts the memory ICs solder pads so that all the components are securely mounted to the surface of the PCB.

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Once the electrical components have been properly baked into place, the still uncut PCB is then fed into a scanning machine, which quickly examines the PCB to ensure that nothing is missing and that every little piece is exactly where it should be.

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Next up is the labeling machine, which places branding and specification stickers on each individual memory module on the still uncut PCB.

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After being labeled, the PCB is finally cut into 12 individual SO-DIMM memory modules.

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Last but not least, the individual SO-DIMMs are lined up, ready to be counted and put into memory trays.

The true final step in the production process is when the modules are transferred to an SPD (serial presence detect) machine that will write the frequency and latency timings information onto the modules EEPROM chips.

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