When it comes to PCB Assembly Manufacturing and Production, the need for customization is extremely pronounced. Each board has different functional objectives, components, prototyping iterations and more. Besides boards are different for different industries, which require specialized designs and are often required to be produced in low quantities.
Before we look at how the efficiency of low-volume PCB Assembly production can be geared up, it will be worthwhile to understand what the difference between PCB manufacturing and PCB production is. Even though the two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two:
PCB Assembly Manufacturing – This refers to a two-step process. The first process is that of fabrication. That involves converting the raw materials into a PCB. The next process is of assembly. That involves attaching the electronic components to the board. The PCBA manufacturing process is employed in creating prototypes as well as finished boards.
PCB Assembly Production – When it comes to PCBA production, it is essentially the implementation of the manufacturing process to create a finished assembly. In turn, PCB Assembly can be of two types- low volume Assembly and high volume Assembly.
While high volume PCBA manufacturing and PCB Assembly can amount to the same thing, as it involves creating the same finished product in large quantities, this is not the case when it comes to low volumes. It is common to have several prototype iterations with extremely low numbers. Think industries such as aerospace or medical devices!
How to increase the efficiency of custom Low Volume PCB Assembly Production?
When we speak about efficiency of low volume PCB Assembly, the metrics we are primarily looking at, include:
- Yield Rate
- Quick turnaround
- Optimal costs
Let us look at each of these metrics individually and ensure how they can be optimized:
1) Yield Rate
First up, let us define the yield rate. Simply put, it is the ratio of usable boards to the total number of boards produced. To improve the yield rate, it is imperative that the design for manufacturing guidelines, are stringently followed. It is essential that the design quality is optimized at the prototype stage itself.
Speaking of prototypes, there are two prototyping options for low volume PCB Assembly:
In this approach small design changes are incorporated in each cycle
In this approach, a number of manufacturing runs are reduced. Therefore, multiple design changes are made to a small number of boards and then tested.
Whether a sequential or parallel option is opted, the assembly options could include a wide range of strategies:
Do not place (DNP)
- In this case, while one component is being tested, the others are not placed.
Using different variants
- In this format, different sets of components are placed on different boards for testing.
Using leaded solder
- Since prototyping involves re-work, it is better to use leaded solder.
Using a re-workable surface finish
- Again as rework is a possibility, it is better to use a surface finish that lends itself to rework.
2) Improved Turnaround Time
Whether we speak of high or low volume PCB Assembly Service, the one thing that is fairly important is turnaround time. These days with time-to-market being a source of competitive advantage, it is all the more important that this be optimized. Of course, speed cannot be at the expense of quality. To ensure this it is critical to choose fabrication and assembly services carefully.
3) Optimal Costs
When it comes to cost, the traditional thinking remains that cost needs to be the lowest. However, what is really important is that the cost is optimal when you take into account your turnaround time and yield rate.
At Mermar, we have years of experience in low volume custom PCB Assembly. We cater to a wide range of industries and their unique requirements while following the highest quality standards and being RoHS compliant.
With consistent product quality, quick turnaround time and excellent customer service, you can count upon us to meet and exceed your requirements. Whether your requirement involves simple boards or complex multilayer ones, we offer prototyping as well as custom production facilities, catering to your volume requirements. From offering Design for Manufacturing checks to having your design manufactured, we are a one-stop shop for custom PCB production that you can rely upon.
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