How a SparkFun widget goes from a blank red board to a ready-to-go product.
In the early days of SparkFun, our manufacturing "process" consisted of one zealous engineering student (that's Nate Seidle) soldering away in his college apartment. Our infamous (the in-famous!?) tried-and-true hot-plate reflow method was one of the crowning jewels in SparkFun's early history.
Now, things are a bit different. We have a full team of trained soldering ninjas putting together hundreds of boards every day. We have not one, not two, but three pick-and-place machines working round the clock. And we have two reflow ovens - one for reflow work and one
to heat up pizza rolls for backup. All because the DIY electronics community is thriving and we have lots of work to do to keep the products you need in-stock and on the shelves. It's a big challenge, but it's also a lot of fun. Check out this video called "Birth of SparkFun Widget." It'll give you a nice visual idea of the steps involved before that red box lands on your doorstep:
We also have a new tutorial called "Electronics Assembly." This tutorial details just how SparkFun does its manufacturing - from stenciling all the way to packaging up the parts. Part of the process has warranted the creation of whole separate wing of production known as "kitting." Their process (and...uh...unique "skills") can be seen in this video:
We hope these videos (and tutorial) help "demystify" the SparkFun production process and give you a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on here on a daily basis! As always, please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Cheers!