Custom Printed Circuit Boards: Top Advantages and Disadvantages
Increasingly, electronic devices call for complex circuitry in a limited space. With miniaturization of devices, you need to use small electronic components and make every attempt to save space. Little surprise then that you cannot make do with standard PCBs that are available and need to opt for custom printed circuit boards that can do justice to your bespoke requirements.
Custom printed circuit boards (PCBs), however, come with their advantages as well as disadvantages. Let us delve into them in detail:
Pros of Custom Printed Circuit Boards
First things first; size is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to custom printed circuit board services. A conventional circuit board may not be able to meet the exact requirement of your electronic appliance. However, if you opt for a custom printed board, you can get not just the exact size but also the shape required by you. The advantage of space-saving, condensed circuitry cannot be overstated. This is something that you can achieve with a custom PCB.
With conventional circuit boards you may face the issue of them being broken easily. Additionally, the wiring they come with often loosens up. With a custom PCB you can rest assured that durability isn’t compromised. With accuracy and quality of custom PCBs being maintained, the reliability of the electronic device is a given.
Since you are getting the PCB designed to your unique requirements, what you also tend to gain is the professional look and feel of the PCB. All parts are spaced evenly and there isn’t any exaggerated wiring. Besides, you could also have interesting artworks added as per your choice.
While the mutual understanding is that the cost of a custom PCB is higher than that of a standard PCB, in the long run this isn’t always true on account of the following factors:
- Custom printed circuit boards typically require less rework and hence if you look at long term costs, you are clearly talking about cost savings.
- Once the PCB has been designed and built, the schematics, Gerber files and bill of materials can be used to build another prototype at a low cost.
- With the ability to recycle schematics for future iterations of the same device, you tend to save device time & cost for the future.
Some of the other advantages of custom printed circuit boards include:
- Direct printing legends eliminates the need for decals.
- Integrated LED lights provide easy verification of its functionality.
Cons of Custom Printed Circuit Boards
This is not to say that custom PCBs do not come with their own set of challenges, notable among them being:
- The initial design time as also the tooling required is high. In case you are working on extremely tight timelines custom PCBs may not work well.
- It is difficult to revise custom PCB multiple times.
- Troubleshooting can sometimes get difficult, particularly if you have enclosures to protect the PCB from the working environment.
- With rapid changes in PCB technology, the components can become obsolete quickly. In such cases, it becomes very hard to repair or replace them.
- Custom PCBs aren’t particularly suited for low volume applications, particularly those that change often. In cases where your design is revised frequently or the custom low volume PCB assemblies are such that they don’t really bring a return when it comes to design or tooling costs, it isn’t an ideal option.
Are custom printed circuit boards right for your industrial requirements?
The answer to this question lies on a number of factors that include:
- The complexity of the project.
- The volume.
- Your budget.
- Commitment to quality.
While custom PCBs require a commitment to a particular design, take some time and minor upgraded cost (although it depends on your requirements). They also come with an inherent robustness, offer the ability to recycle a PCB design and significantly reduce the cost of rework. You can select the best option by analyzing your requirements.
What can an electronics contract manufacturer offer you?
An experienced electronics contract manufacturer can produce custom PCB assemblies, box builds as well as cable assemblies. They can also help test at the board level as also test capabilities of the box build, as required.
In case you already have a custom printed circuit board design available with you, a contract manufacturer can help with:
- Assembly that conforms to industry standards.
- Testing PCB and the components using state-of-the-art testing methods.
At Mermar Electronics, we have years of experience in custom PCB assembly. We cater to a wide range of industries and their unique requirements while following the highest quality standards and being RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substance) 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.