Fine pitch/fine feature solder paste printing in PCB assembly has become increasingly difficult as board geometries have become ever more compact. The printing process itself, traditionally the source of 70% of all assembly defects, finds its process window narrowing. The technology of metal blade squeegees, with the aid of new materials, understanding, and settings such as blade angle, has kept pace with all but the smallest applications, e.g., 200µ - .50 AR and 150µ - .375 AR, which have been pushing blade printing technology to its limits.
Enclosed media print head technology has existed, and has been under increasing development, as an alternative to metal squeegee blade printing. Until recently, the performance of enclosed print heads had been comparable to the very best metal squeegees, but advances in enclosed print media technology have now made it a superior alternative to squeegee blades in virtually all applications.