Aaron J. Hand, Senior Editor/Technology
Though not the first choice for every application, the electronics industry will continue to rely more on lasers to drill, solder and trim its ever-shrinking products.
The pressure is on in the electronics game, and photonics is stepping up to the plate. As consumers clamor for smaller electronic devices, everything must enter the miniature world. Manufacturers are fitting smaller components onto smaller boards, packing as much capability as they can into the tight spaces. But they can't raise prices, so they have to hold costs down by producing these devices more quickly and more accurately.
Lasers -- better able to fit into those tight spaces, offering higher throughputs and increased yields -- are providing answers for some of the physical tasks that must be performed on the boards. A Q-switched Nd:YAG is pretty standard fare for trimming components like resistors and capacitors, but lasers are still making their way into via drilling and soldering. However, as the stakes continue to increase and the sizes and densities reach proportions that mechanical means just can't handle, such lasers as the Nd:YAG, CO2, excimer and laser diode are ready to get the job done.