This article is based on the manufacturing of motherboards by Gigabyte who has two plants in China and one in Nanping Taiwan. They have two factories in China due to the high labor cost in Taiwan. However, Nanping factory also make products steadily because they contribute significantly to the local society through employment. They produce various products including motherboards, graphic cards, notebooks, smart phones, and routers. The Nanping factory is about 1 hour by buy from Taipei 101 Tower. Skilled workers of more than 15 years are the core assets of the Nanping factory and they consist of more than 70% of the entire staffs. Let’s see the manufacturing process of a motherboard.
The manufacturing process is roughly four steps: SMT, DIP, Test, and Packaging.
When you go to plant tour, the first stop is the SMT equipment. SMT stands for Surface Mount Technology and is related to small components without the pins extending through the printed circuit board (PCB). On the PCB, flux paste is prepared to hold components and components like resistor, Bios and chipsets are transferred to a PCB and soldered.
After soldering, they make sure if the component mounting and soldering are done well. When SMT process is done, workers check with naked eyes if any parts are missing or mounted incorrectly. In each steps, both the workers and scanners check for any mistake. Most of the work is performed automatically by machine in this process.
After mounting of small components in the SMT process, now it is time to mount components with the pins extending through the PCB. DIP stands for Dual In-line Process. Mounting capacitors are automated and the speed of mounting them is really fast. Capacitors are mounted automatically but components like RAM socket, PCIe socket, and keyboard port are done by hand of skilled workers.
Even though the entire process could be automated, maybe still many processes are rely on hand craft because a lot of money could be spent to implement the different processes from different forms of heat sinks and slot shapes. After the end of DIP process, the motherboard can be able to function.
Test and Packaging
A motherboard is equipped with a lot of parts. Even though visual and machine utilized inspection is performed before and after each step in SMT and DIP process, the final test checks for all the functionality of motherboard as well as burn-in test. There is a test box system where all parts are tested at the same time. Otherwise, it would take a lot of time to test each part. The testing is done in an enclosed environment and there is a test box for each model.
Packaging is the process of making the product which can be found in retail stores like folding boxes, serial number attachment, and adding additional components. This process is also semi-automated which make it possible to inspect and package tens of thousands of motherboards per day.