An advancement occurred with the design of an LED that had no wires. Instead, it was designed to mount on the surface of a circuit board, and this LED was referred to as a
Surface Mount Design (SMD)
. Without the wires and
surrounding packaging of a standard LED, a surface mount LED is very small, and better handled by automated assembly equipment. Special robotic arms were developed for machines that could quickly pick up the SMD LED and place it on a circuit board, which traveled on a moving conveyor belt through an oven that soldered it to the circuit board.
These assembly machines were used for high speed, high precision placing of broad range of electronic components, not just LED’s, which included capacitors and resistors for circuit boards for computers, consumer electronics as well as industrial, medical, automotive, military and telecommunications equipment. These robotic assembly machines were called 'pick and place' machines (P&P’s) because that was what they did - pick up and place parts. They became vital parts of a new manufacturing technology: Surface Mount Technology (SMT) - which changed how all electronic devices were built.