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How are connectors such as USB handled in high volume manufacture?

Would the panelized board leave room to place these connectors or would the panel be cut apart and the connectors added later. Is there equipment to automate adding these or is hand soldering the only way?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Those little bent tabs on the two sides are likely mean to fit snugly enough in their holes to secure the part for long enough to get it through wave soldering. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Photon
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 1:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Automation: look up wave soldering and selective wave soldering. This is usually how through-hole components are soldered in high-volume applications. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 2:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can also probably find SMT USB connectors. \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 5:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mkeith A problem with a purely SMT USB connector is that the end user can apply enough force to shear it off. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 14:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev, yes. It has to be secured by other means. I can't remember for sure anymore, but I think I did use one once, and the ME found a way to make it pass all the mechanical tests (side pull on the USB cable and such). I think it did have plastic locator pins that helped for the alignment. \$\endgroup\$
    – user57037
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 15:50

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My boards are built in the US in batches of 200 each month. The PCBs are arrayed with routed tabs. All components (SMT and throughole) are on one side.

Throughole connectors (and other throughole parts) are placed by hand. So, we have to pay more for the the assembly of throughole components, compared to SMT components (the latter are placed with automatic pick&place). After placement, the throughole components are wave soldered all at once.

In my case, I was able to streamline the circuit board for assembly.
In some cases it may not be possible (for example, due to tight mechanical constraints), and some components would need to be soldered by hand.

edit:
Related blog posts: Overhangs, Where to put panel tabs.
[I'm not affiliated with Screaming Circuits.]

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have to specify that the connector should be of "THR" quality ("through-hole reflow") or is that standard for USB connectors nowadays? I would imagine that this is the most important thing to look for, rather than if the component can be picked up by the pick & place. Because if the component can't handle wave soldering, you'd have to solder it by hand which will be expensive. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lundin In my experience, most throughole USB connectors are compatible with wave soldering. So, I would guess that that's de facto standard. The PCB assembly shops (at least ones I've used) check these compatibilities and raise a flag if they suspect snags. (If doubt, do a pilot run first, of course.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 13:59
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Panel is for holding the PCBs so the machine assembly can be performed. So, yes, your panel has to have extra space and/or opposing PCB needs to have space to fit the connectors and other parts overreaching the PCB.

TH parts are machine assembled by wave soldering. WRT pick'n'place machine, yes, sometimes, depends.

Some irregular parts come with a plastic holder that the machine can easily grip.

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