The primary objective of this paper is to investigate the accuracy of the finite element (FE) smeared properties approach for the determination of the mode shapes and frequencies of a printed wiring board (PWB) populated with electronic modules. Smearing of the material and/or structural properties is a recognized means of reducing a complicated structure to a less complicated approximation. Comparisons of both the natural frequencies and mode shapes are made between the smeared FE model and those obtained from vibration testing. The extent of correlation between the mode shapes is characterized by the modal assurance criterion (MAC). Since the intent of this study is to examine the effectiveness of the smearing technique, free boundary conditions are assumed. It is shown that the smearing technique can produce good correlation of both natural frequencies and mode shapes of PWBs populated with modules. A case study of a PWB with both surface mount technology (SMT) and pin-in-hole (PIH) components is presented.

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