PCB Mounting Methods: A Comprehensive Guide



Mounting on PCB
Mounting on PCB

PCB installation is crucial in electronics production, impacting device performance and reliability. As electronics advance in complexity, mastering PCB mounting practices is vital for industry experts. This guide offers a deep dive into PCB mounting, covering pre-mounting considerations, typical methods, essential tools, and best practices for peak performance. After reading, you’ll possess a strong grasp of PCB mounting principles, ready to take on future projects with assurance. Let’s begin our exploration of the intriguing realm of PCB mounting.

What is PCB Mounting?

PCB mounting is the essential process of affixing electronic components onto a printed circuit board, forming a functional electronic assembly. This method encompasses a range of techniques, tools, and equipment to establish secure connections between components and the board. It has a facilitating effect on inefficient electrical signal transmission within the circuit. The primary aim of PCB mounting is to create a stable and dependable platform for electronic components, enabling their proper operation within the device’s design constraints.

Factors to Consider Before Mounting a PCB

Before commencing the PCB mounting process, it is essential to consider several variables that can influence the selection of the mounting technique and the ultimate result of the assembly. Gaining insight into how these aspects impact the mounting process facilitates informed decision-making. It is also helpful in the prevention of potential issues throughout the assembly.

Board Size and Shape

The dimensions and configuration of a PCB represent crucial factors to account for throughout the mounting procedure. When dealing with sizable or unusually shaped boards, specialized equipment or mounting methodologies become necessary to guarantee correct assembly. Thorough planning of the mounting process is imperative, ensuring alignment with the board’s dimensions and design. Inadequately planned mounting approaches can result in errors, wastage, and potential damage to the board or its components.

Component Density

Elevated component density on a PCB can introduce complexities in mounting, as it demands meticulous placement and soldering to avert potential short circuits and other issues. Dealing with high-density boards may necessitate the adoption of advanced mounting methods, such as the utilization of automated pick-and-place machines or the application of solder paste via stencils. Conversely, lower component density may permit the application of simpler mounting techniques with fewer potential complications. It depends on the intricacy of the board’s design, even low-density boards may require precision in placement and soldering.

Thermal Management

Efficient thermal control constitutes a crucial aspect to bear in mind throughout the assembly and mounting phases. Excessive heat can inflict substantial harm on electronic components, underscoring the significance of comprehending your PCB’s thermal prerequisites when determining the most suitable mounting method. It’s essential to acknowledge that thermal management needs may vary contingent on the electronic device’s application and operational surroundings. Consequently, seeking advice from experts or consulting reputable resources is imperative to ensure that your mounting procedure effectively addresses the thermal prerequisites.

PCB Assembly Fundamentals

To grasp the diverse methods of PCB mounting, it’s essential to delve into the fundamental aspects of PCB assembly. These are the foundational principles play a pivotal role in ensuring accurate component placements during the assembly process.  Consequently,  creating a flawless design hinges on the choice of high-quality components, appropriate layout, and well-considered software. An incorrect assembly process has the potential to transform a promising concept into an unsuccessful product.


 Through-Hole Mounting Technology

Hole mounting on the printed circuit board
Hole mounting on the printed circuit board


Through-hole mounting involves the insertion of TH components into pre-drilled holes on the board. The process ends with soldering these components to the pads on the opposite side of the board.  This process can be executed either manually or through the use of insertion mounting machines. These components are meticulously placed into the through-holes on the PCB, and their pins are soldered from underneath to the pads on the opposite side of the board.

Axial Lead Components

The axial lead configuration resembles a wire jumper, extending outward from the end of cylindrical or box-shaped PCB components. Axial leads are commonly employed for bridging short gaps on the circuit board and facilitating point-to-point wiring. When mounting axial components, it’s essential to maintain a sufficient distance from the board to prevent mechanical stress on the components. This axial lead arrangement can take the form of components such as light-emitting diodes, carbon resistors, fuses, and electrolytic capacitors.

Radial Lead Component Mounting

This PCB board mounting format proves highly suitable when working with boards that have limited available space. Its primary objective is to ensure that components remain in an upright position on the PCB. Radial taping encompasses various taping formats, with critical parameters including component spacing and lead pitch, falling within the respective ranges of 12.7mm and 5mm. The through-hole mounting process is most suitable for components demanding rapid automation.

Benefits of Through-Hole Mounting Technology

Use of Through Hole Technology in technology industries
Use of Through Hole Technology in Technology Industries


  • While surface mount technology has gained prominence, through-hole technology maintains its relevance, particularly due to the robust soldered connections it provides, ensuring reliability.
  • Through-hole technology excels with larger components capable of withstanding high power and voltage demands.
  • It is especially suited for components subjected to mechanical stress, such as electrolytic capacitors, connectors, transformers, and semiconductors.
  • This method allows components to pass through the board, enhancing their resilience against environmental stressors, making it a preferred choice for military and aerospace applications exposed to extreme temperatures and accelerations.
  • Moreover, through-hole-mounted components are celebrated for their durability, making them an ideal selection for testing and prototyping purposes.
  • However, it’s essential to acknowledge the limitations of through-hole mounting technology to gain a comprehensive understanding of its capabilities.

Limitations of Through-Hole Technology

  • A drawback associated with opting for through-hole technology lies in the necessity to drill numerous holes in the board.
  • It results in prolonged production timelines and elevated costs.
  • While these holes serve the purpose of securing components onto the board, they leave minimal room for routing and signal tracing due to their compact size.
  • Furthermore, through-hole technology predominantly relies on manual component mounting processes.

Surface Mount Technology

Implementation of Surface Mount Technology on PCB
Implementation of Surface Mount Technology on PCB


Surface Mount Technology (SMT) represents the contemporary approach to mounting electrical components directly onto a PCB’s surface. This innovative method has supplanted the traditional through-hole technique for component attachment. While the conventional practice involved inserting components through holes in the board. This shift has not only enhanced production quality but has also yielded cost reductions, largely attributable to the integration of automated manufacturing processes.

The Surface Mount Technology Devices (SMD)

The Surface Mount Technology (SMT) device is employed extensively in modern electronics manufacturing. Its primary role is to facilitate the efficient and reliable assembly of printed circuit boards (PCBs). SMD components distinguish themselves from their through-hole counterparts. In SMT design, soldering occurs after placing the components on the board.

Passive SMDs

Passive SMDs find utility across various packaging options. These primarily encompass SMT capacitors and SMT resistors, with standardized package dimensions. Additional SMD components comprise crystals and coils, each with distinct specifications and package designs. The PCB connections are established through the metallization of the package.

Integrated Circuits

Different packages are suitable for integrated circuits. The required level of interconnection depends on the package type. Basic logic chips only need a modest number of 14 to 16 pins, while more advanced VLSI processors may necessitate 200 or more pins. To accommodate these diverse needs, there is a wide range of available packages, including smaller chip packages like small outline integrated circuits.

Transistors and Diodes

Surface mount technology diodes and transistors are commonly enclosed in compact plastic packages. Leads extend from these packages and are bent to align with the board. In this package, there are three leads. As a result, it is helpful in simplifying the identification of device orientation.

Designing Surface Mount Technology

The primary motive behind the creation of SMT was to enhance the reliability, speed, and cost-effectiveness of PCB assembly. However, its influence extends beyond these enhancements, encompassing the advancement of novel electronic circuits, equipment, and designs. Moreover, the advantages it has ushered in far outweigh any limitations. To fully harness the benefits of SMT design, certain precautions should be taken into account.

Lower Power Rating

Within surface mount technology, power rating assumes significance. While a standard lead resistor can dissipate at least 0.25 watts. The smaller-sized resistor in SMT handles lower power dissipation. Hence, reduced power handling is a major concern.

 Lower spacious capacitance and inductance

Smaller SMT components result in limited space for these electrical properties. SMT resistors operate efficiently when positioned near their standard counterparts, unlike leaded resistors. Consequently, SMT resistors exhibit lower parasitic inductance. Furthermore, SMT’s standard components facilitate high-speed and high-frequency performance, a capability unattainable with lead components.

 Smaller Circuits

With the expansion of the electronics sector, surface mount technology (SMT) has played a pivotal role in achieving miniaturization. Components have become smaller in size. It has become a major factor in facilitating their straightforward attachment to the PCB. This technology enables components to be positioned in closer proximity on the board compared to traditional lead elements.

 Advantages of Surface Mount Technology

  • Surface mount technology (SMT) offers several advantages in electronic design and manufacturing.
  • One of its key benefits is the ability to place components on both sides of the circuit board, allowing for higher component density and more intricate connections.
  • This results in a smaller PCB design, facilitating the close arrangement of components, which is ideal for creating compact and lightweight devices.
  • Additionally, SMT accelerates production setup when compared to through-hole technology, thanks to its efficiency.
  • Its compact PCB designs also support high circuit speeds, while the low resistance and inductance at connections contribute to excellent high-frequency performance.
  • Furthermore, SMT simplifies the attainment of electromagnetic compatibility, making it a versatile choice for various electronic applications.

Mixed Technology

Usage of mixed technology for mounting on PCB
Usage of mixed technology for mounting on PCB


Selecting the right mounting method for individual components on a PCB involves careful evaluation of various factors. Some components may align better with THT mounting. On the other hand, others may find SMT mounting more advantageous. Mixed-technology mounting combines these options, empowering designers to select the best technique for each component, factoring in size, weight, and electrical needs.

Factors to consider when using mixed technology for mounting include

The manufacturing process

Mixed-technology mounting combines SMT and THT advantages. It has introduced manufacturing intricacies and elevated expenses. Designers must evaluate these factors. They must also consider the benefits to ascertain the suitability of the manufacturing process for their unique applications.

The reliability of the mixed technology mounting process

When sourcing mixed-technology components, partnering with reliable suppliers offering both SMT and THT options is crucial. This ensures access to suitable components and the flexibility to switch between mounting methods as required. Mixed-technology mounting provides a versatile, cost-efficient approach. With meticulous planning, it combines the advantages of both methods to meet diverse application needs.


Tools and Equipment for PCB Mounting

Having the right tools and equipment readily available is essential for a smooth PCB mounting procedure. These instruments assist in component arrangement, soldering, examination, and testing. It ultimately leads to enhanced general caliber and trustworthiness of the assembled PCB. In this section, we will discuss the essential tools and equipment for PCB mounting, along with guidelines on their selection and upkeeping.

Soldering Equipment

Soldering equipment plays a pivotal role in PCB mounting. It facilitates the connection of electronic device components to a printed circuit board (PCB) through the process of soldering, wherein a metal alloy (solder) is melted to create a durable link between the component and the board. Soldering guarantees robust and dependable connections, rendering it a vital step in both the production and maintenance of electronic devices. Here are some indispensable soldering tools and equipment:

Soldering iron or soldering station

Utilized to liquefy solder and establish connections between components and the printed circuit board (PCB).


A low-melting-point metal alloy is employed for creating connections between components and the circuit board.


A chemical substance that aids in cleansing and prepping surfaces for soldering, thereby enhancing the solder joint’s quality.

Soldering tip cleaner

It is employed for the upkeep and cleansing of the soldering iron tip, guaranteeing peak performance and efficient heat transfer.


Inspection and Testing Tools

Inspection and testing tools are vital for confirming the excellence and performance of installed PCBs. Several typical inspection and testing tools are described below:

Magnifying glass or microscope

It is employed for scrutinizing solder connections and component positioning, pinpointing flaws or discrepancies. It proves especially valuable in detecting problems with diminutive components that might escape visual detection without magnification.


It is a flexible instrument capable of assessing diverse electrical characteristics, including voltage, current, and resistance, facilitating the identification of problems within the completed PCB.

Continuity tester

It is a tool used to verify correct electrical connections between components and the circuit board, ensuring that the PCB’s electrical pathways are appropriately linked, thus averting potential short circuits and related problems.

In-circuit tester (ICT) or automated test equipment (ATE)

It is a sophisticated testing machinery employed in high-volume manufacturing settings for swift and precise assessment of PCB functionality.

Limitations of quality testing tools

It’s important to acknowledge the limitations and potential biases of testing tools like magnifying glasses or microscopes, multi-meters, continuity testers, and advanced testing equipment. They are designed to detect defects, and misalignments, and diagnose PCB assembly problems. Multi-meters and continuity testers can yield inaccurate results if not regularly calibrated. To ensure PCBs function correctly, use these tools in conjunction with visual inspections and functional tests.


In this comprehensive guide, we’ve addressed the critical facets of PCB mounting. PCB mounting method can be considered as an important process for making your electronic devices work. By grasping these concepts and implementing the suggested strategies, you’ll be well-prepared to confidently and successfully tackle PCB mounting projects. As the realm of electronics continues to advance and become more intricate, mastering the skill of PCB mounting remains a vital competency for industry professionals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between SMT and THT mounting techniques?

Surface Mount Technology (SMT) involves the direct attachment of components to the PCB’s surface, whereas Through-Hole Technology (THT) involves inserting component leads through board holes and soldering them on the opposite side.

How do I choose the right mounting technique for my PCB?

The selection of a mounting method hinges on considerations such as component density, board dimensions, mechanical durability prerequisites, and assembly simplicity. SMT works well for densely packed, compact designs, whereas THT is preferable for situations necessitating strong connections and simplified soldering. Employing mixed technology mounting enables the harnessing of benefits from both approaches.

What are some common mistakes to avoid during the PCB mounting process?

Common mistakes encompass inaccuracies in component positioning or alignment, subpar soldering methods resulting in frail or defective connections, and inadequate scrutiny and assessment of the PCB assembly. Adhering to recommended procedures and employing suitable tools and gear can mitigate these challenges.

How can I improve the thermal management of my mounted PCB?

Efficient thermal control can be attained by correctly positioning components, employing heat sinks or thermal vials, and guaranteeing sufficient air circulation around components that generate heat. Incorporating thermal considerations into the design and installation stages can uphold peak performance and dependability.

What are the essential tools and equipment needed for PCB mounting?

The essential tools and equipment needed for PCB mounting encompass soldering tools (such as a soldering iron or station, solder material, flux, and tip cleaner), examination and evaluation instruments (like a magnifying glass or microscope, multi-meter, continuity tester, and in-circuit tester or automated testing equipment), as well as machinery for component positioning during SMT assembly.

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