What Qualities to Look For in a PCB Assembly House

Written by Technology Magazine on October 3, 2018. Posted in Pcb board assembly, Pcb printing service, Printed circuit board assembly

Printed circuit boards help the majority of our technology to even exist. You’ll find them in almost every industry. From our smartphones and computers to healthcare monitors to industrial and automotive equipment, and so much more, printed circuit boards are just about everywhere. If you consistently need high quality printed circuit boards (PCB’s), you should reach out to a PCB assembly house to get a PCB assembly quote. PCB manufacturing companies can provide you with quick turnaround and lower prices, especially if they’re machine-assembled versus hand placed. Other manufacturers may be more helpful in terms of small batch PCB assembly or low volume PCB assembly, depending on your needs.

What Kinds of PCB’s Do You Need?

The answer to this question will likely depend on who you’re supplying and what the application they’re using their PCB’s for is. There are double-sided circuit boards and multilayer boards. Generally, multilayer boards come in four, six, eight, and ten layers, but the layers can reach up to as many as 42 (and more) layers, depending on how complex the electronic circuits are.

There are also heavy copper PCB’s, that have a copper thickness greater than three ounces in either the outer or inner layers. These are most helpful if high currents are being transmitted or heat needs to be reduced.

With double-sided circuit boards, the circuits are connected on either side using either through-hole technology or surface mount technology.

What Should I Look For in a PCB Assembly House?

Deciding which PCB assembly house to work with is a big decision
. You want to make sure that the prototype you provide is being followed accurately and ideally, you’ll save money and costs by working with them.

With every PCB assembly house you talk with, you should know what their lead time is, get a quote, what their quality control processes are like, and what their minimum order size looks like. If you’re not working in high volumes, for example, a high minimum order size could be difficult.

You should also find out if they can customize PCB boards, what their turnaround time is, and whether they can do small batch PCB. If you get a specialized order, for example, would you need to find another assembly house or could they take care of it?

You should also inquire about equipment — you want it to be up to date with the current technology and accurate — and that there’s the right technical competency at hand. Be sure to ask about shipping and delivery times and what the minimum order for that is, as well. Is there a higher shipping cost if it’s a lower volume?

And of course, you should check into customer reviews and testimonials to get a good sense for both the company’s strengths and also some of their weaknesses.

What are the Perks of Machine-Assembly Versus Hand Placement?
As with almost everything human vs. machine, machine-assembly goes much faster than with hand assembly. Some PCB assemblers can turn PCBs around in five days (or under) which is 75% faster than the average across the industry). Machine assembly can also reduce the risk of human error and minimize inconsistencies. Generally speaking, machine assembly also can reduce costs for you, since every person hand assembling needs to be paid, as opposed to machines, which need upkeep and maintenance, but not an hourly wage.

However, hand-placement is great if you’re doing small batches or low volume, or want to make sure that the precision is there. Furthermore, hand placement is how many assemblers get started, if they’re not well known enough to invest in the necessary machines.

If you’re looking to reduce the cost of your PCB manufacturing and assembly costs, consider talking to a PCB assembly house. Getting quotes and seeing the commonalities between different houses can help you make a smart and efficient choice for all your business needs.

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