15Manufacturing Processes in the Electronics Industry

15.1 Introduction

Almost every manufactured product we use today either contains electronic components, or has been designed and made by processes utilising electronics. The wordprocessor being used to write this sentence contains semiconductor based technology, the plastic for the keyboard was made by electronically controlled moulding processes and the assembly of the individual components was done by microprocessor‐controlled machines. Motor cars are designed using electronic computers, they are assembled using microprocessor‐controlled robots and often they contain such items as electronic ignition, instrumentation and fuel management systems. Our complex and varied telecommunication systems utilising land lines, microwaves and satellites would not operate without electronics. To supply this ubiquitous hardware we rely on the electronics manufacturing industry.

At the beginning of the twentieth century no electronics industry existed. Then in 1904 the thermionic valve was invented and this was followed in 1906 by the triode. These components made possible the construction of many of the electronic devices we know today, albeit in a relatively slow and cumbersome manner. For example, 40 years after the invention of the triode the electronic computer ENIAC required approximately 1400 m2 of floor space, weighed around 30 500 kg and contained 18 000 vacuum tubes. However, 1947 saw the invention of the transistor; this semiconductor ...

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