Through-Hole Components Getting Scarce In Favour Of SMD?

As a kid growing up in the 1980s i took apart everything i owned or get my hands on to see what was in it. Toy trucks, R/C cars, tape decks, computers, game consoles, bicycles, typewriters, my mom's sewing machine, the lawnmower, etc...

Most of the electronic stuff i took apart in the 1980s and early 1990s had a lot of "through-hole" style (for lack of better description) components soldered down onto a (usually) single or double-sided PCB. Resistors, Diodes, Caps, Transistors and stuff just like we've all got in our lil plastic trays, with the long leads that you stick through the hole and solder.

Nowadays (i spend a great portion of the day working on computers) most electronics stuff i see is mostly miniature surface mount components, which from a manufacturing standpoint makes lots of sense for a lot of reasons. There are exceptions, i.e.. caps, crystals, chokes (where size is a factor in its specification or performance) and high-power transistors or voltage regulators (large to dissipate heat).

Is there plenty of through-hole stuff still being used in manufacturing these days, or with manufacturing shifted towards SMD, will through-hole resistors, transistors, diodes and such start to grandually become less available and more expensive over the next several years? I can think of some places where through-hole stuff is a better option, i.e. protoyping or higher powered stuff. Looking at the catalog at National, there's no shortage of through-hole stuff in current production at the moment. I'm sure it'd be a long, slow process (like decades) to phase out through-hole components completely and use up all the stock/surplus.

I've spoken with a hobbyist on IRC that claims to build most of his projects with SMD components- he arranges them on his PCB, applies solder paste appropriately and sticks it in a toaster oven. He could be full of crap, i've never seen pics, but i can't think of any reason why he'd lie about it. He's knowledgeable, helpful, and well-respected, and doesn't smack of someone just trying to be l33t. Surface-mount is actually his preference, but to me it seems like that approach would be more hassle and less fun (disclaimer: i've never done it that way). Through-hole stuff just seems like it would be so much easier to work with.


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I've started hoarding through-hole components for fear of limited supply.

Try Googling for "toaster oven" and SMD


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Everybody's doing it, it would seem.

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Andrew Holme


For real? Are you seeing anything in particular that's becoming scarce, yet? Not things discontinued completely, but things that are no longer available as through-hole but are going strong as SMD?

(disclaimer: The above diatribe sounds MUCH more paranoid/conspiratory than how i really feel. I'm not losing sleep or getting ulcers over this ;))

Oh, i didn't doubt that he could be doing everything with surface-mount stuff. It all seemed plenty feasible to me, just more of a hassle. I've never tried it, and i'd prefer not to if i could avoid it. Reading the article you pointed to confirmed a lot of my preconceptions about it- parts sliding around, heat damage, going back afterwards and fixing all these super-tiny solder bridges- The older i get the shakier my hands and the blurrier my vision ;)

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We do use toaster ovens

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and believe it or not SMT is easier then thru holes (no drilling for one), just a little different knowledge is all that is needed. Jump in.

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