Miniaturisation Of Electronics: The Complete Guide

Mar 12, 2024PCB assembly

miniaturisation of electronics the complete guide
The trend towards miniaturisation in electronics is not merely a passing phase; it’s a continual evolution that has and will continue to reshape the industry.

Its origins trace back to the 1940s when the introduction of transistors marked a pivotal advancement, replacing cumbersome vacuum tubes and providing a more compact and reliable solution for electronic circuits. Subsequently, the advent of integrated circuits ICs)  in the late 1950s and early 1960s represented another watershed moment, enabling the integration of multiple electronic components onto a single chip, significantly reducing the overall size of electronic devices. The progression continued with the development of microprocessors in the 1970s and, more recently, the advent of nanotechnology.

As technology enthusiasts increasingly seek smaller, more efficient electronic solutions, PCB assemblies – the heart of all electronic devices – are at the forefront of this evolution. This comprehensive guide explores the intricacies of miniaturisation and addresses its impact on the design and manufacturing of PCB assemblies.


This blog forms part of MPE’s PCBA Future Trends mini series. To read other related posts, click here

What does miniaturisation of electronic devices involve?

The miniaturisation of electronic devices involves the process of making electronic components and assemblies smaller in size, while maintaining or improving their functionality and performance. Miniaturisation has been a key driving force in the development of modern technology, enabling the creation of smaller, lighter and more powerful electronic devices.

The most significant advancements in the miniaturisation of electronics includes:


Integrated circuits

ICs combine multiple electronic components, such as transistors, resistors and capacitors, into a single semiconductor chip. As technology advances, the number of components that can be integrated onto a chip increases, allowing for more functionality in a smaller space.


Smaller transistors

Advancements in semiconductor manufacturing processes have enabled the miniaturisation of transistors, allowing for more transistors to be placed onto a single chip. This increases processing power and energy efficiency.


Printed electronics

Printing techniques, such as inkjet or screen printing, are used to create electronic circuits on various substrates. This approach allows for the fabrication of flexible and lightweight electronic devices.


Use of advanced materials

The use of advanced materials with unique properties, such as graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice, forming a two-dimensional material, contributes to miniaturisation by enabling the development of smaller and more efficient electronic components.


What are the benefits of miniaturisation of electronic devices and their components?

The miniaturisation of electronic devices and components offers a range of benefits, driving advancements in technology and influencing various industries. Here are some key advantages:

  • Portability: smaller devices are more portable, enhancing convenience for users on the go.
  • Energy efficiency: miniaturised components often consume less power, leading to energy-efficient devices.
  • Enhanced performance: close component proximity boosts overall performance, enabling faster processing and reduced latency.
  • Cost reduction: smaller devices often require fewer materials, leading to potential cost savings.
  • Wearable technology: miniaturised components are essential for comfortable and lightweight wearable devices.
  • Space utilisation: miniaturised devices are ideal for industries with space constraints, such as aerospace and automotive.

What are the risks and challenges of miniaturisation of electronics?

While the miniaturisation of electronics brings numerous benefits, it also presents several risks and challenges that engineers and manufacturers must address:


Heat dissipation

Miniaturised components are often densely packed, leading to increased heat generation. Efficient heat dissipation becomes challenging, potentially affecting the performance and reliability of electronic devices.


Manufacturing complexity

Miniaturisation may increase the complexity of manufacturing processes. Precision becomes critical and intricate assembly techniques are required, leading to potential challenges in quality control and reliability.


Signal integrity

As components are placed in closer proximity, the risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI) and signal crosstalk rises. Maintaining signal integrity becomes more challenging, impacting the overall performance of the device, especially in critical-to-life electronic devices, which must deliver on-command and continual performance. Product designers and engineers can include metal shielding cans or conductive tape to block EMI from affecting sensitive components.


Durability and reliability

Smaller components may be more susceptible to physical damage, such as mechanical stress or vibration. Ensuring the durability and long-term reliability of miniaturised devices can be a significant challenge.


Optimising PCB assembly processes to meet demand for increased miniaturisation of electronics?

The increasing demand for the miniaturisation of electronic devices continues to have a profound impact on PCB assembly. As consumer expectations drive the development of smaller, lighter and more feature-rich electronic products, the PCB assembly manufacturing process has had to adapt.


Component size and placement

As miniaturisation involves using smaller and more compact electronic components, which are increasingly more densely packed onto their respective PCBs, assemblers must refine their manufacturing processes to handle these components accurately. The adoption of automated assembly processes, such as Surface Mount Technology, is especially vital for accurately placing small components with reduced pitch and finer lead spacing. For instance, when dealing with the placement of solder balls, as seen in micro Ball Grid Array (BGA), precise soldering techniques are essential due to the size requirements.


PCB layout optimisation before assembly begins

During the circuit board fabrication phase, optimising the PCB layout is crucial to minimise the use of vias (a plated hole that connects one or more layers of the board, allowing electrical signals and power to pass through), shortening trace lengths and ensuring signal integrity. This optimisation not only lowers PCB manufacturing time but also cost.


Materials selection

PCB assembly manufacturers are exploring and including innovative materials with exceptional electrical performance, durability and high thermal conductivity, such as copper to dissipate heat and improve the PCBA’s performance, while also ensuring they are compatible with the manufacturing process.


Multi-layer and flexible PCBs

Increasing the number of layers in a PCB to accommodate more components in a limited space, enhances the overall functionality and performance without enlarging the board size. Similarly, including flexible PCBs in the assembly enables the manufacture of electronic devices with more compact designs owing to their reduced size and weight, as well as their ability to be bent, folded or shaped to fit into tight and irregular spaces.


Learn more about our Multi-layer and Flexible PCB assemblies here

How has MPE adapted to manufacture miniaturised PCB assemblies?

Using our new pick-and-place machine, we are equipped to place 0201 components, the smallest package sized components, measuring 06. X 0.3mm. These components are commonly used in miniaturised electronic devices where space is at a premium, such as mobile phones and wearables.

Coupled with this capability, MPE Electronics’ production team are all IPC-A-610 trained and certified, and we employ a full-time, certified IPC trainer in-house. This ensures we have the necessary skills in-house to support PCB assembly manufacture that includes 0201 components. Our in-house inspection processes enable us to verify each component is correctly placed and that all soldering joints are reliable.


The future of electronic device miniaturisation

The future of electronic device miniaturisation, especially its impact on PCB assemblies, promises unprecedented levels of compactness and efficiency. Advancements in manufacturing techniques enable the integration of smaller, more densely packed components on to PCBs, leading to ultra-thin, lightweight and high-performance devices across various industries, including consumer electronics, healthcare, and automotive.

Here at MPE, we work closely with customers across a wide range of industries to ensure their specific needs are met. Partnering with our expert team from the beginning stages of your electronic device manufacturing journey, allows us to optimise the performance and cost effectiveness of your end product.


Seeking a PCB assembly expert to optimise the production of your PCBA for your electronic device?


Elevate your product with our expertise in PCB assembly for streamlined and efficient electronic devices. Talk to our experts today on:

+44 (0)1825 764822 or

MPE Electronics is an established and experienced contract electronics manufacturer specialising in PCB assemblies and full box build assembly for a wide range of commercial and industrial businesses.

To find out how MPE Electronics’ PCB manufacturing and assembly services can benefit your business, contact our expert and friendly team on +44 (0)1825 764822 or

Privacy Settings