Top 9 Ways to Improve the Quality of Industrial PCBA Prototype!
When it comes to prototypes, speed is of essence. Often it could mean less than optimal time spent on issues such as prototype design for assembly or testing. This, in turn, can affect the quality of the prototype. What is required, however, is that speed does not come in the way of quality. Here are the top 9 ways to improve the quality of Industrial PCBA prototype while ensuring that speed and therefore, time-to-market, isn’t compromised:
1. Keep it simple
Simplifying your prototype is essential, if you want to keep the focus on quality. Here are some things to aim for:
- Focus on the parts of your design that need to be prototyped.
- Pluggable cards can be a good tool to prototype smaller parts.
- Ensure that the design works in conjunction with the vendor demo.
2. Keep the size, large
With increased miniaturization of products, smaller and smaller PCBs are a reality. However, when it comes to prototypes, it always works well to enlarge your prototype. Larger components are always easy to work with. Not only are they easy to assemble, in case there is rework required later, that can be done easily too. At the production stage, however, the design can be shrunk to the proportions required. This way both the quality and time will not be compromised in the process of prototyping.
3. Incorporate Options
Ever so often you may land up in a position, wherein, you are yet to figure out which of the two components you should go with. In the interest of time, it will work better if you put them both on the prototype with the option to enable any of them. You could set selection pins and ensure programming headers are put on the prototype.
4. Ensure the components are of high quality
If there is one thing that can make or break your prototype, it is your selection of components. It is a given, therefore, that you need to go with high-quality components from reputed suppliers. Using poor quality components may give you some cost advantage, however, you will need to face the consequences of poor quality control as also poor tolerance.
5. Ensure there is co-ordination with the assembler
A very important aspect of PCB prototyping is to ensure complete co-ordination with the assembler. With the assembly house having some standard materials and processes, adhering to them will help mitigate risk to a large extent. Ensure, therefore, to speak to the assembler, so that they are fully comfortable with the selection you make. A little time and effort spent on this will ensure that costly reworks are avoided at a later stage.
6. Choose a quick turn prototype assembly house
Needless to mention that the choice of prototype assembly house is crucial! In making the choice, one of the things that you need to watch out for, is if the assembly house is able to cater to low volumes. In case the contract manufacturer is only looking at high volume manufacturing, the prototype design and therefore quality may be sacrificed.
7. Intelligent CAD files
Ensure you share intelligent CAD files with the assembly house. This will ensure that they are privy to the complete information and that no time is wasted in back and forth communication. On the other hand, if you share Gerber files, there is always the scope of risk as also time being wasted in communication.
8. Design-for-Assembly checks
To ensure that there aren’t any costly errors later, the one thing that you must take to is to perform design-for-assembly checks. This will go a long way in improving your prototype quality.
9. Post-build inspections
Now this is a step you simply cannot afford to ignore. A number of times there could be errors that aren’t visible to the eye. Undertaking Automated Optical Inspection and 5 DX automated x-ray inspection will ensure that you can catch any errors, significantly improving the prototype quality
A quick check on each of these 9 points while in the prototype stage, can go a long way in ensuring that the quality of the prototype isn’t compromised while making sure that the speed that is essential, is maintained.
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