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The importance of ITAR compliance in Aerospace PCB Assembly & Manufacturing Company!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 12, 2021
Aerospace Printed Circuit Board

The aerospace industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in recent decades. Many developed and emerging economies have been keen on making their strides in the aerospace niche to have their mark on the global arena. These aerospace equipment are built with various sophisticated electronic assemblies and sub-assemblies. Care has been taken to diligently choose these electrical components and, safeguarding the intellectual property of these components.

With rapid advancements spanning every field, the need for increased regulation also has arisen especially, regulations in data and file sharing. This resulted in the creation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The influence of ITAR has become more valuable than ever before. International Traffic and Arms Regulation (ITAR) came into existence around 1976 owing to the need of controlling the export of aerospace equipment and other related sensitive information. The enforcement of these regulations became more stringent now.

Let us understand what goes into ITAR compliance and break it down for you the major reasons why ITAR compliance is vital for aerospace companies and why it is important for you to find an ECM that ensures ITAR compliance.

What is ITAR?

International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) monitors the import and export of defense-related and space-related services and technologies in the USA. The government has made it mandatory that all the manufacturers, exporters, brokers, and whosoever is in the supply chain to make sure that these services, equipment, or any related technical data must be ITAR-compliant.

While most regulations, industry standards, and restrictions on PCBs are intended to ensure quality, worker safety, reliability, environmental safety, some regulations are intended to protect the end customer and the broader public in general. These are valid in PCBs that are used in aerospace electronics.

Importance of ITAR PCB Manufacturing compliance for Aerospace

  1. Aerospace is a global Industry

    Aerospace is an international industry and the demand for airlines has been increasing with each day. The number of airline passengers is at an all-time high currently. If are you wondering how would complying with the US guidelines like ITAR is crucial for a global industry like aerospace? Undoubtedly, the US is a global leader in the aerospace industry and some of the largest aerospace companies in the world are currently based in the US alone.

    Hence both the domestic and international companies who eye on having a strong foothold in the US, try to comply with the US aerospace standards and affiliated security standards like the ITAR. Many companies strive to make their operations and products meet the basic security standards that the USA government has levied. Complying with ITAR ensures aerospace companies operate in the USA.

  2. Safety and Security Perspective

    Aerospace is one of the crucial industries of any country and it is inevitable that every aspect of it should be doubly ensured that no element ends up in unauthorized hands or used for illegitimate purposes. None wants their critical information and sensitive data to be compromised. Security breaches don’t include the theft of proprietary information alone, there would be potential loss of human lives as well. So, there is a component of human safety attached to the aerospace industry.

    With rapid advances in technology, the complexities have also increased and this even led to greater automation. New technologies have also paved way for many exploitations and weaknesses as well. The threats have also increased with many hackers trying to break into the system for data breaches. Imagine the repercussions if more there is a data breach! The hackers would have more opportunities for disrupting the flights.

    So, the need for strong data security measures is vital than ever before. Compliance with ITAR guidelines means more data security and safety to human lives. ITAR was designed to provide baseline data security for the aerospace industries. This centralized set of recommendations are meant to identify the potential security threats and to make sure these are adhered to.

  3. Avoid penalties and comply with the Enforcement rules

    Till now, we have been focusing on the positive business impact and data protection impact of aligning with ITAR regulations, lets now look into the consequences of non-compliance. Post 9/11, aerospace security has been bolstered with additional measures to safeguard the industry. The US government has taken every measure to bolster the security of people and the aerospace industry. So, when you fail to comply with these guidelines, being mindful of the human loss, there are non-compliance fines and penalties. This may vary from a few thousand dollars to millions. The fines of magnitude could cripple many businesses and besides fines, there would also be criminal charges in the most extreme cases.

How to ensure ITAR compliance?

Failure to comply with ITAR standards could mean putting your business existence in jeopardy. No company can afford to bear the consequences of ITAR non-compliance. You can first begin with understanding ITAR guidelines and identify where you need to make the changes. Find a PCB assembly and manufacturing company that offers solutions in line with ITAR guidelines.

Ensure equipment delivered to you is ITAR compliant which has the potential to put you ahead of your competitors. ITAR compliance is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process and you should be committed to it. You can run a regular analysis or audit to make sure there are no potential breaches. Also, stay up-to-date with ITAR regulations and keep up with the emerging trends.

Not all aerospace PCB assembly and manufacturers have in-house capabilities to build ITAR-compliant aerospace PCB electronics designs.

Summary

Every OEM creating PCBs for Aerospace should ensure that the electronics contract manufacturer (ECM) adheres to ITAR. Any deviation or non-compliance can cause serious collateral damage putting not just your intellectual property at risk but also your national secrets out in the open. Smart aviation software is the key to ensure compliance with one of the most intricate regulatory systems like ITAR.

At Mer-Mar Electronics, we strictly adhere to ITAR compliance in regards to aerospace industrial applications and take extra care and attention to verify the nitty-gritty of the industrial appliances. The experienced team at Mer-Mar Electronics shows tremendous commitment to build ITAR-compliant Aerospace PCB Assembly. We at Mer-mar Electronics, we assist our customers from initial design to mass production & delivery stage; as one of the leading Aerospace electronics manufacturing service (EMS) providers.

Top Considerations while selecting a PCB Assembly Manufacturer!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: March 26, 2021
PCB Assembly Manufacturer

Are you wondering whether you need PCB assembly ever? Of course, you do. There are certain applications that do require low-volume or high-volume PCB assembly. But if you are constrained by the resources like budget, you would want a certified PCB Assembly Manufacturer to help you out within your constraints.

But what do you need to look for when choosing a PCB assembly manufacturer?

Of course, the cost would be your first and foremost priority. You need your PCB assembly manufacturer to reduce the cost which is the trickiest part in fact. Think about it, with the rapid evolution in technology, you often require the latest components and sophisticated parts but they shouldn’t exceed your budget limitations. The million-dollar question is how can you incorporate these modern components and out-of-box features within your PCB without letting the prices go sky-high?

Undoubtedly, your circuit boards would be amazing but if the prices are skyrocketing, can you afford to sell them? Less likely right? So, you need to come up with a solution that offers the best technology within your budget.

So how can you cut down the costs while maintaining the quality of the PCB Assembly?

Many PCB Assembly Manufacturers claim to provide you the lowest prices but how far their claims are true? Remember, not all PCB assembly manufacturers deliver on their promise of providing you high-quality circuit boards at a lower cost. You need to find if it is credible to believe that the PCB assembly manufacturer won’t compromise on the quality. So it is vital to find out a professional and reliable contract manufacturer that can balance both the quality and cost.

Stay vigilant while making the decision. Have a clear understanding of your project requirements and do thorough research on the PCB assembly manufacturers. You can gather as much information as possible through various means to avoid any further mistakes.

Following aspects when you are choosing PCB Assembly Manufacturer.

  1. Modern Equipment – For a high-quality and efficient board, you need to have the latest equipment. You can focus on choosing a company that uses Surface-Mount Technology (SMT) since it is associated with high manufacturing speed and placement of components.
  2. Single Supplier – Find a small-batch PCB Assembly manufacturer who can be your one-stop supplier for all your board needs. You can avoid coordinating and interacting with multiple vendors and multiple organizations. Everything will be handled by a single vendor.
  3. Ask for Prototypes – Irrespective of the size of the boards, you need to find out what the prototype looks like. Even if they charge you, it is better to go with it as prototypes will provide you to have a preliminary look at your design and work on improvements if required.
  4. Quality Certifications – If you want to make sure of the PCB Assembly manufacturer, you can verify their certifications to know their capabilities. You can check for certifications including ISO 9001, RoHS, etc. ISO 9001 is an international quality management guideline that aims to meet the consumer’s requirements and expectations. You can adhere to the product quality effectively and efficiently. Restrictions of Hazardous Substance (RoHS) governs hazardous substance applications in the manufacturing of electrical substances. Another Listing Service UL is also meant to test the manufacturing products thoroughly, ensure the right procedures and also reduce any product errors.
  5. Resources – Does the contract manufacturer has the resources for validating your design prior to the assembly? What are the quality controls for ensuring the standards of your design? Do they have adequate resources for optimizing the build? Find out their engineering capabilities for resolving the issues in assembly.
  6. Component Procurement – A huge amount of time and money usually gets wasted in components procurement. You save some overheads here by choosing a CM that offers components sourcing services. This helps you to avoid the unnecessary engineering process of assembling. This also avoids disjointed relationships with multiple vendors. The right PCB assembler would help you in easy procurement of the inexpensive components and place them on the circuit board.
  7. Optimize Designs – Perform a DFM check before you begin the manufacturing process. Design for Manufacturing (DFM) ensures that the products are easy to design and manufacture and these remain resilient.
  8. Via Tech – We know that Vias is imperative in building the board. There are a number of via types like buried, blind vias, and micro vias. Depending on the ones you choose, the overall cost also changes. The greater number of vias you need, the higher the price. So, make sure you ensure the proper arrangement of vias to build a cost-effective board.
  9. Flexibility – A PCB assembly manufacturer should be flexible while building low-volume and high-quality PCBs. There should not be red-tapism or multiple levels of bureaucracy in the communications and cordial relationship should be built.
  10. Surface Finish – Choose the surface that fits your requirements and also opt for a finish like ENIG, OSP, ENEPIG, HASL, etc. Surface finish ensures higher performance and solderability for preventing oxidizing.
  11. Layer Count – As you add more layers, your cost also increases. Since you are going for a small batch PCB, you need to make sure that you do not add any unwanted layers to enhance the complexity and costs in return.
  12. Size and Shape – Have an accurate design for implementing the functions within the low volume. The board should be able to have the requirements of the application. Use those panels that are of absolute necessity. The shape of the PCB also impacts the price. Going for regular shapes like squares or rectangles usually costs less.
  13. Bill of Materials – Provide a bill of materials with the list of items, raw materials, assemblies, sub-assemblies, and components to the manufacturer like manufacturer name, part number, top & bottom footprint, SMT method, package, case, description, quantity, reference, etc.
  14. Components Sourcing – A PCB Assembler would have cordial relations with a network of suppliers and distributors. They might be able to gather the components at the best prices. You can ask for the invoice to ensure trans.
  15. Order Volume – Order volume and commodity price are inversely proportional. The greater number of components you order, the lesser the price of each piece.
  16. Lead Time – Different PCB Assembly Manufacturers would have different lead times. Understand the order day, payment day, components procurement time to arrive at the lead time. The lead time and price are inversely proportional.

Bottomline

Finding a PCB assembly manufacturer is a tricky task. But if you focus on following the aforementioned tasks, you can easily find the best one suitable for you. You can focus on picking a PCB assembly manufacturer that has the engineering capabilities for providing you state-of-the-art circuit boards with less turnaround time and within budget.

At Mer-Mar Electronics, we have the expertise for your PCB Assembly low-volume runs and have the level of sophistication to help our clients with thriving boards. We have the specialization to provide full production runs in low-volume PCB manufacturing. Whether you need one or a thousand pieces, we are your one-stop solution for your PCB Assembly.

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Top PCB Design Consideration for Aerospace Assembly and Military Grade PCB!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: March 22, 2021

Aerospace assembly and military PCBs are expected to be tough and reliable and there is no room for any error especially when the systems are mission ready. Imagine your system results in a technical glitch during critical mission operations. This would have some serious repercussions and damage beyond measure, isn’t it? You need not only quality systems but also reliable, secure, and strong that show the same performance for a longer time.

This isn’t as easy as it seems, in fact, it is quite challenging to manufacture and deploy PCBs for military and aerospace when compared to commercial applications. Deep knowledge and understanding of what entail in the high-reliability circuit boards are essential for the longevity of the products. Most people find it difficult and hence focus on finding an electronic company that maintains quality standards and has enough experience to handle the design demands of these projects.

Before we discuss some design considerations, remember one cardinal principle – keep learning! Yes, there is always something new out there – new technologies, new working processes, or new testing options. If your aim is to produce high-quality products, install innovation at every step. Ok, let’s get started.

1. Prepare a quick Layout of PCB Designs

Designing for PCB military and aerospace assembly involves a wide array of design options, materials, and carefully curated manufacturing processes. Before you jump into the design, understand how harsh environments wreak havoc on your PCBs and prepare some tips to safeguard them from being ruined. This ensures reliability and safe-operating boards for the years to come. You can get quick sketches of the designs before they hit the production floor.

2. Construction Materials

Aerospace and military grade PCBs must be strong, durable, and reliable to the extreme temperatures and harsh conditions. A PCB manufacturer must be skilled and have expertise in different materials, composites, and substrates. Materials like aluminum and copper can be used to withstand extreme heat. Anodized aluminum is also used for minimizing the heat-induced oxidation effects.

3. Coating and Surface Finishes

Special surface coating and finishes are mandatory during PCB Assembly for military and aerospace applications. This acts as a protective shield in harsh environmental conditions like heat, humidity, vibration, and water. You can also use thermal compounds that will insulate components, protect them from heat, and reduce vibrations that result in solder cracks. Use high-quality acid or acrylic-based sprays can be used to coat the boards. Another option is using immersion silver for surface finishes.

4. Through-hole PCB Assembly

Through-hole technology (THT) is the best way of mounting during PCB assembly as boards manufactured with THT are highly durable. This is due to the soldering from both the top and bottom of the board that creates very strong physical bonds between both the board and components. Your PCB manufacturer must be able to minimize vibrations while mounting the components.

5. Meet High Standards

Military and aerospace electronic products typically need to meet high standards for better performance. For instance, IPC, the global trade association that has been serving the PCBs and electronic assembly industries has laid down the IPC-A-610E standard for high-performance products. Its goal is to make sure there is no downtime, no critical issues in end-use environments so that the equipment works well under all harsh environmental conditions.

6. Less about design and more about PCB Manufacturing

Yes, you heard it right! When your aim is to build robust products that are less prone to failure, manufacturing details matter the most. Different manufacturers design the same products with subtle changes and hence it’s not always about design. Your PCB designs should fit the manufacturing process for yielding better results. You can use automated tools for identifying the differences between the components and designers can also verify that the manufacturer’s methods will not result in performance compromises.

7. Avoid Counterfeit Parts

Counterfeiting can lead to product failures and revenue loss which would affect the PCB assembly process critically especially when you are fulfilling military and aerospace contracts. You can avoid counterfeiting by choosing a proper PCB contract manufacturer who is well-versed with the procedure and practices certified processes such as avoiding fraudulent distributions and doing source assessments. They should have a trusted and well-vetted chain of suppliers to guarantee the quality of PCBs.

8. Qualified PCB Manufacturer

The PCB manufacturer you choose must have the capabilities and necessary certifications for handling military and aerospace electronics systems. The certifications are indicators of your CM’s commitment to quality. For instance, the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) regulated by the Department of State is required for military and aerospace appliances. It mandates that your PCBs must adhere to the updated guidelines to reflect changes in the current technological trends, political as well as security climates. Any sensitive information relating to the design and production of these intelligence devices should be protected. This degree of security ensures trust in the manufacturer.

9. Test with DFM

The Military and aerospace PCBs should be tested with Design for manufacturability (DFM) after making even the slightest of the changes. You can use x-ray tests as the standard for all your military and aerospace electronics. Device a test strategy for your PCB designs that suits your time and budget. Are you considering physical tests like the Highly Accelerated Life Test (HALT)? Beware that it will destroy your prototype. Choose alternatives like virtual HALT simulation and run a few test iterations.

10. Identify your Failures

While running the tests, the focus should be on analyzing the results for understanding the defects and finding out the source of the defect. Allot time and effort to analyze real-time failures of your products and establish some working methods to prevent these failures to be recurring in the future. It is important to investigate the cause of failure starting with the source of the failure and observe how they behave under different simulations. You can also rely on data mining to understand the stability of your designs. Instead of focusing on the immediate and short-term solutions, drive your efforts on conducting research and finding conclusions. This comes in handy even for your future designs.

Conclusion

The military and aerospace electronics industry should show fewer product failures and uncompromised quality as design complexities increase. Measures should be taken to build stable and high-quality products within the stipulated time. How to go about it then? The decision in this direction starts with picking up the right electronics company that has adequate experience in designing a tough product.

Mermar Electronics is one such organization that has highly skilled engineers building high-quality printed circuit boards, assemblies, prototyping, fabrication, turnkey PCB assemblies with proper design considerations. You can count on us to meet and exceed your Aerospace PCBs needs. We are ever committed to staying ahead of the curve, when it comes to meeting the growing demand for evolved PCBs.

Explore Different types of Aerospace PCB Assembly Services from here!

Top Factors affecting Military and Aerospace PCB assembly process!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: March 20, 2021
Aerospace Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Military and Aerospace are the two industry sectors that require the most sophisticated electronic components and applications. PCB systems used in both these industry sectors need to deliver superior performance, reliability, and high precision as these are exposed to extreme and harsh environmental conditions and contaminants. To maintain high performance and ensuring zero downtime, these systems are mandated to adhere to IPC standards. Hence, PCB manufacturers have been committed to delivering PCB components with high precision and detail-oriented.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are many factors that have been influencing the PCB assembly process. Military and aerospace PCBs require special attention throughout the process of fabrication, design, assembly, and deployment.

Let’s get started to know more.

Before delving into the factors affecting military and aerospace applications, let us quickly see the industry applications of PCBs in both the military and aerospace sectors.

Military Industry Applications Using PCBs

PCB designs for military applications need to be mindful of the expectations like longer product lifecycles, extreme temperatures, and use cases. They are expected to be more robust, rugged, reliable than normal products. PCBs used in military applications also require strict design constraints.

  • Defense navigation and communication systems
  • Satellite subsystems using embedded processors
  • Cyber counterintelligence systems
  • Automatic search jamming systems
  • Base protection and security
  • Command and control systems
  • Artillery and mortars
  • Cryptanalysis systems
  • Robotic systems
  • Unmanned vehicles
  • Ruggedized computers

Aerospace Industry Applications Using PCBs

  • Digitalized signal and microwave processing systems
  • Full Authority Digital Engine Control Systems (FADEC)
  • Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles (AMRAAM)
  • Electronic flight instrumentation systems
  • Central Air Data Computers (CADC)
  • Satellite equipment
  • Ground station applications
  • Passive detection systems

Factors Affecting Military and Aerospace PCB Assembly Process

Nature of Construction Material

PCB assemblies used in both these industry sectors must be resistant enough to withstand high temperatures as aluminum and copper substrates which are high-temperature laminates are used in PCBs for military and aerospace applications. Of late, anodized aluminum is also used to minimize the heat-induced oxidation effects. These varied aluminum substrates when used in conjunction with thermally conductive pre-pegs are known to offer weight benefits.

Avoid Thermal Dissipation

Did you ever notice some components on your PCB dissipating heat in high proportions? Quite often, isn’t it? This heat would damage the PCBs unless dissipation is controlled. you can mount the components about 20 MILs from the board surface. Alternatively, you can also use a spacer between the component and the heat sink which provides an adequate clearance to protect the PCB components and surface. These strategies are successful in controlling heat dissipation in military and aerospace PCBs. This, in turn, increases the reliability aspect of the PCB.

Reduction of EMI and Attenuation

Have you ever wondered why we dip a stranded wire into the hot melted solder during the PCBA for military and aerospace applications? It is left to dry and then solidified for achieving tensile strength. In this process, a stranded wire is transforming into a solid wire with the elimination of air gaps to facilitate stable air flows. This entire process improves the reliability of military and aerospace PCBs while reducing the impacts of Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and attenuation.

Conformal Coating and Surface Finish

The very nature of military and aerospace applications is that they are subjected to harsh environmental conditions like constant exposure to moisture, extreme temperature, humidity, and water. So, to safeguard the PCB components, your applications go through the appropriate conformal coating. Usually, acid-based sprays are used for this purpose, but there are other types of surface finishing and coating as well like HASL, ENIG, immersion silver, etc.

Lead-free PCBs

Lead alloys usually melt at low temperatures that cause damage to electronic components during the assembly process. However, lead is known for its reliability. So, some military applications still use lead-based PCBs. But things have started to change, many electronic manufacturers have been making a switch to lead-free PCBs owing to the damage concerns, harmful effects on human health as well as environmental concerns.

Minimize Vibrations

While durability, reliability, and strength form the cardinal principles of military and aerospace applications. PCB manufacturers should be able to minimize vibrations while mounting the components. Through-hole technology is hence considered to be the best way of mounting during the PCB Assembly process as PCBs manufactured through THT are considered to be extremely durable.

Extra Cushioning

PCBs that are used in military and aerospace applications must use mil-spec components that have tighter tolerances of 1 to 2%. This is because, quite often, PCB designs in military circuitry get a high current flow that is beyond commercial grade circuitry. You need to add an extra cushion to make sure that the products or applications do not fail under any extreme conditions. This extra cushion is to augment strength and efficiency.

Other Design Considerations

Also, follow the design considerations to meet IPC standards.

  1. Design the PCBs that can handle the maximum power load.
  2. Differentiate low-frequency components from high-frequency to lower the impact of the waveforms produced by the high-frequency components on the low-frequency ones as these may disrupt the signal quality by unnecessary noise which is a big NO for military and aerospace applications.
  3. Shield the clock signals and keep them clean by resorting to physical shielding using some material enclosures such as aluminum ones.
  4. Use thermal compounds when you need heat dissipation.
  5. Increase clearance space when you are mounting the high heat-producing components to protect the nearby components and PCBs from over-heating.
  6. Pre-tin the braided and stranded wires for improved solderability.
  7. Use high-quality heat-resistant materials to make the metallic core components withstand high temperatures.
  8. Use finishing materials like an electrolytic nickel with Immersion gold coating (ENIG), lead-free HASL, Immersion silver, electrolytic nickel, and gold, etc. to support the PCBs to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
  9. Acrylic-based sprays should be used in conformal coating for protecting the PCBs
  10. For smooth power transmission through the circuit, maintain PCB routings at 45-degree or lesser angles.
  11. High-quality simulation programs should be used to verify the loads at varied locations to understand any PCB design alterations to be made.
  12. Make sure the PCB components manufactured for military and aerospace comply with – Performance standards – MIL-PRF-38534, MIL-PRF-38535, MIL-PRF-55342, MIL-PRF-55681, and MIL-PRF-123, MIL-PRF-50884, MIL-PRF-55110, and MIL-PRF-31032 – Testing standards – MIL-PRF-19500, MIL-STD-883, MIL-STD-750-2, MIL-STD-202G
  13. Solder the press-fit components to avoid vibrations
  14. You can avoid component damages by rechecking the thermal profiles for the wave and reflow the soldering process.
  15. Understand how your PCB works in real-time through pre-layout simulations.

Conclusion

If you want to have a highly curated PCB assembly process, then we recommend you to get them sourced from a certified manufacturer. Mermar electronics provide PCB assemblies for diverse industry sectors including military and aerospace. We ensure utmost-precision and high-performance PCB assembly services to meet the exact specifications for these industries.

Mermar electronics has successfully earned and maintained its ITAR certification. Mermar Electronics is your one-stop solution for Aerospace Electronics services from PCB Prototyping, PCB Assembly, PCB Fabrication, Quick Turn PCB Assembly, Cable Harness Assembly, SMT PCB Assembly, Low Volume PCB Assembly, High Volume PCB Assembly, Full and Partial Turnkey Assembly, Electromechanical Assembly, Multilayer PCB Assembly, PCBA Rework and all the way to Box Build Assembly. All Our PCB assemblies are proudly made in USA. Get in touch with us today to see how we can assist with your next project.

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