The quality of your electronics depends on the quality of your PCB manufacturer.
Partnering with an unreliable manufacturer can cause setbacks in production, ruin your reputation, and lose business, which is why vetting and working with the right one is so crucial.
However, this process can be straightforward if you know what you’re looking for.
This article will cover how to pick the right PCB manufacturer to assemble your electronic products.
Time is money. And delivering products on time makes you money.
It’s simple — if a manufacturer can’t fulfill orders and deliver when they promised their clients they would, inventory will drop and customers will take their business elsewhere.
The world of electronic manufacturing moves at lightning speed, and no one has the time to wait on a service they can get on-time elsewhere.
The right PCB manufacturer will be able to deliver your orders on-time and consistently.
A manufacturer who delivers on time should also respond to inquiries, calls, and emails within a reasonable amount of time. Choose a manufacturer that is respectful of your time and business.
It’s in your best interest to work with a PCB manufacturer that works within a six-hour time difference of you. This will alleviate any impediments or issues with communication.
Before partnering with a PCB manufacturer, you should also make sure that they have the bandwidth to work on your projects. Often, a manufacturer will accept more projects than they can deliver on, which results in a lower quality product for you. Choose to work with a company that won’t constantly rush your order.
Time is money, so spend it wisely.
Ensure you choose a manufacturer who has adequate resources to deliver the product you require.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for PCB manufacturers to say they do production in-house when in reality, they outsource it to another company.
When interviewing potential manufacturing partners, ask for a virtual or in-person tour of their facility. This will help you sift through the companies who don’t conduct their own manufacturing.
You should also make sure that the manufacturing company is well connected in the industry. This way, if they don’t provide a part you need down the road, they’ll easily be able to acquire it with their connections.
To avoid product delays, you should ask your PCB manufacturer how they deal with potential issues. Do they cease production immediately with no questions asked? Do they try to get a hold of you when they see a potential hiccup?
A reliable manufacturer will look for potential problems before they arise, help with future PCB design, and help improve your product — whether by lowering the price or suggesting alternative materials and components.
Testing and Quality Assurance
No matter how much you plan, errors are bound to happen during the prototyping process. Not always, but it is likely.
When choosing a PCB manufacturer, ask about their testing and quality assurance processes.
There is nothing worse than to hear you’ve designed and produced a batch of 50,000 printed circuit boards that didn’t go through proper testing. Those boards then get used in products that require refunds or, in the worst cases, become harmful to the consumer.
Remember when cell phones were blowing up?
A seasoned PCB manufacturer will conduct testing throughout the whole production process instead — not just during the final stages. Make sure they offer in-circuit testing, functionality testing, solderability testing, and contamination testing.
It will be easy to tell what kind of customer service support you’re going to receive by how the PCB manufacturer treats you during the initial meeting.
Manufacturing Costs and PCB Quality
Sticking to a budget and saving money when possible is vital to any business.
However, cutting costs is not always the best route when it comes to manufacturing. Opting for a cheaper product or components that don’t meet the proper specs will cost you more money in the long-run to fix or re-run a batch of PCBs.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
Producing faulty boards can also harm your reputation, which is a difficult thing to bounce back from.
Evaluate your budget and partner with a manufacturer that can meet your requirements while staying within a price that works for you.
Choose a Manufacturer That Works for You
Before partnering with a PCB manufacturer, remember that they can make or break your business.
An unreliable manufacturer can cost you thousands and ruin your reputation. On the other hand, a trusted PCB manufacturer can help your business become more efficient and grow.
When looking for the right partner, find a company that can turn your designs into high-quality products within the timeframe you need them and within your budget.
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all — choose the manufacturer that best suits your company’s needs.