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Reduce the Cost of Supply Chain with PCB fabrication methods!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: August 9, 2021
PCB Fabrication Methods

If you are aware of the printed circuit board assembly process, you know it is an expensive and rigorous process. Clients usually come up with some unique requirements and with a tight budget at the same time which makes the entire situation tricky as you need to balance out both of them. Things get tougher as you go for high-volume PCB manufacturing. So, it is important for you to find ways to keep your costs in-line without compromising on the quality and efficacy of the PCBs.

In this article, let’s dive in to understand how one can trim down the costs of the PCB fabrication process and keep your clients happy.

What are the costs involved in the PCB Fabrication Process?

To know what are the costs involved in the PCB fabrication process, first focus on the manufacturing pipeline. PCBs are small in size yet they involve extensive costs in getting the high-precision and high-quality product out into the market. There are numerous processes involved in developing PCBs like soldering, packing, shipping, multilayer printing, substrate creation, inspection, silk screening, surface finishing, and testing. With so many varied processes involved, the manufacturing costs are going to jump up.

Let’s walk you through a few ideas where you can cut back your costs and make your PCB manufacturing pipeline efficient.

1. Examine design choices

Address PCB fabrication costs by understanding various design choices like board material, blind/buried vias, vias on pads, panelization options. Taking off the blind/buried vias or vias on SMT components reduces the PCB fabrication costs greatly. Another way to optimize your PCB fabrication cost is the panelization option where multiple designs can be ordered together. Panelization of the designs together reduces the overall setup cost. You can also go for ENIG surface finish on your PCBs as it is a standard within the PCB fabrication method.

2. Size of the boards

Common misconception is that you can reduce PCB costs if you reduce your board size. But the size of the board may not be the right determinant. Of course, medium to large size boards usually cost higher. But reducing the PCB size may actually increase the cost as it requires high precision fabrication. Also, this may increase the cost as we have to add slots and drilled holes for which additional tooling is required.

3. Fair Assessment of Bill of Materials

Assess the clients’ bill of materials for all the full turnkey PCB orders. If there are any expensive components in the BoM, you can see if you can procure those components from any authorized vendor at lower prices. Discuss with your clients if they are willing to go for cheaper substitutes. If clients have a pre-arranged mechanism to procure parts, you can explore that way. Some contract manufacturers will have leftover stocks from the previous orders which can be used as they come at lower prices.

4. Optimize your Packages

Get rid of extremely small and miniature packages. You can instead opt for large production that can reduce your overall costs. Besides, there are lead-less packages like BGAs and QFNs that usually require special care and attention while assembling. You can go for alternatives by swapping your components for lead parts like QFPs. This reduces the overall PCB fabrication cost.

5. Follow best DFM practices

By following the best DFM practices, you can avoid excessive expenses in the PCB assembly. Optimize the layout for the soldering process and avoid any rework expenses. Don’t place the components forcefully through the manual assembly process. Smaller parts placement requires high precision to avoid rework. Leave enough room for debugging and automatic testing to ensure the efficacy of the PCB assemblies.

6. Components and Materials

Get your components and materials from multiple sources to avoid being at the whims of a single vendor. Never put all your eggs in one basket and lose the leverage in contract negotiations. If you are satisfied with the quality of the components, you can quickly move to other sources without causing any impediments to the manufacturing process. Relying on a single source may also result in delays due to unforeseen situations.

Never go for counterfeit components or illegitimate parts that result in premature failures and affect the board’s performance. Keep an eye on the component life cycles to make sure that they are in working condition for the entire duration of the PCB.

7. Put conflicting priorities to rest

PCB fabrication process is a costly and complicated process and some conflicting priorities are inevitable between the engineers and the clients. Focus on the cost reduction and set up a committee to arrive at a conclusion on where to trim your expenses. Stick to the precise designs and tools agreed upon. Maintain a solid partnership with the suppliers and vendors who can be reliable and responsible. This also reduces unnecessary overheads.

8. Choose your service provider wisely

Make sure your contract manufacturer is well-certified to have solid capabilities and follow appropriate quality regulations. With enough experience, they can prevent some costly mistakes early on. They must also have well-maintained equipment to provide uninterrupted and high-precision PCBs. Be sure of your projects’ requirements and budgetary limitations. Do your research on the company’s experience, projects, client satisfaction, quality check mechanisms, and success rate. This ensures to avoid unnecessary costs and keeps your reputation intact in delivering high-quality products.

Conclusion

Companies like Mer-Mar Electronics have been providing cost-effective PCB fabrication and assembly all the while maintaining high-quality standards. Whether you need a small volume or a high-volume production run, our brilliant engineering team strives to reduce the assembly and fabrication costs for our client’s PCBs. We take a fresh and case-by-case approach to determine what are the elements that are affecting the cost of production and how they can be tweaked or altered without compromising the functionality and quality of the PCBs.

You can reach out any time and ask our PCB assembly specialists about the quotes that match your budgetary targets. You may also contact our manager to review your quote and find out the cost-reducing options.

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How to overcome the most common PCB Fabrication errors?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021
PCB Fabrication USA

When it comes to PCB fabrication, we could be looking at a fair amount of complexity, as multi-layered boards with as many as 36 layers are being used extensively. What it brings in its fold, however, is the possibility of errors, which could turn out to be costly. There is, therefore, a pressing need to keep an eye on the common PCB fabrication errors so that they can be avoided. Here is a comprehensive list of errors to watch out for:

#1. Flex Cracking

What does it entail?

Simply put, this error occurs when the PCB bends excessively on account of the ceramic chip capacitor.

How can it be side stepped?

The simple solution to this problem is varying the size of the capacitor. The usage of a small capacitor can successfully solve this issue.

#2. Clearance constraint

What does it entail?

This is a fairly common PCB fabrication error. It occurs when in designing the board, the clearance constraint is not taken into account.

How can it be side stepped?

To ensure that this issue does not occur the manufacturing capabilities need to be understood prior to production, so that the board can be designed accordingly.

#3. Power shortage

What does it entail?

If there is a shortage of power during the building stage, it can impact the functionality of the board.

How can it be side stepped?

Visual inspections and cold tests can ensure that the board’s electricity is checked and that there is no inadvertent power shortage.

#4. Mechanical Issues

What does it entail?

A wide range of mechanical issues can take place if the components do not fit well on the board or if they are placed too close together.

How can it be side stepped?

It is imperative that all component dimensions are double-checked and that there is enough room for each component so that any issues can be avoided.

#5. Impedance Control

What does it entail?

Some PCB designs have components that require impedance controlled tracks. This requires that the specifications of the manufacturer are followed.

How can it be side stepped?

To ensure that no issues are faced, it is important that the manufacturer specifications are taken well in advance and strictly adhered to.

#6. Drill constraints

What does it entail?

The drill capacities of manufacturers are an important aspect to know before hand. Typically drill sizes range from 6 to 14 millimeters.

How can it be side stepped?

#7. Vias

What does it entail?

As part of the PCB fabrication service, it is important to drill holes for the vias. The holes are in turn plated. In case during the plating process the copper layer does not adhere to the surface, a discontinuity comes about. In turn, this could lead to a number of issues in the PCB.

How can it be side stepped?

To avoid this issue, it is important to ensure that the hole that is drilled is smooth. Rough or fast drilling can lead to the hole being defective as also cause uneven copper deposition. To ensure that this does not happen, it is necessary to use the recommended tools and to apply the right amount of force for the drilling. Any lapse in either of these two aspects is likely to lead to a PCB fab issue.

#8. Missing Solder Mask

What does it entail?

This issue erupts when the space between the pads is constrained. With closely packed pads, in turn, solder mask deposition is impacted. This could lead to short circuits besides impacting the life span of the PCB making it vulnerable to rusting.

How can it be side stepped?

This issue needs to be side stepped at the design stage itself. What is needed is strict adherence to issues such as:

  • Size of copper pads
  • Clearances
  • Copper trace

If these are taken care of, the copper masks in between the pads will not be an issue.

With Mermar Electronics, a credible PCB Fabrication service, USA, you can rest assured that the above issues are well taken care of. By virtue of our four decades of experience in the domain of fabricating complex PCB boards across industries, we can anticipate these issues well in advance and ensure that corrective action is taken. By partnering with us, not only are you assured of high quality PCB, but also complete peace of mind. For more information, Explore our PCB Fabrication Services.

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How Automation in PCB Fabrication is Meeting the Needs of Today’s Industries?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021

Think of PCBs and you tend to increasingly think of complex, high-density, multi-layered boards. With industries such as computing, telecommunication and IoT especially, you are particularly talking about highly complex and miniaturized products necessitating such boards. We are already increasingly seeing trace and space widths of 1 mil being considered.

While in its early stages, PCB manufacturing was a manual job, today’s technology and the need for increasingly small boards, calls for the need for a high degree of automation. In fact, it would be near impossible to mass-produce these delicate boards without an automated assembly process. Besides the mass production of boards, automation also brings about a host of other benefits.

Benefits of automation in PCB Fabrication

Automation in PCB fabrication comes with a range of benefits, including but not limited to:

Cost advantage

Shorter assembly times

Low chances of error

Higher Quality

Miniaturization

  • Cost advantage – There are no doubts, that as opposed to manual assembly, which involves a sizeable labor cost, the running expenses when it comes to automation are far lower. In turn, this translates into optimal product pricing, which can be huge source of competitive advantage.
  • Shorter assembly times – With faster time-to-market being yet another important criterion in today’s hugely competitive world, what automation importantly also offers is a faster assembly time.
  • Low chances of error – Manual assembly can also come with high probability of manual errors, which in turn can lead to costly mistakes. Automation in PCB Fabrication, however, takes away the scope of these errors and ensures that you have a quality product and complete peace of mind.
  • Higher Quality – Reduced errors automatically translate into high quality PCB fabrication, which in turn determines the quality and reliability of the end product.
  • Miniaturization: As mentioned above, given the constantly reducing size of gadgets, the need of the hour is to create miniature PCBs with high component density. Again, this is a task that automation can achieve. Automated systems can go a long way in sorting out parts, placing components correctly and even perform testing. With a manual intervention most of this isn’t possible, given the high component density.

What are some of the automation used in PCB Manufacturing?

Typically, when you think of automation in PCB manufacturing, you tend to think largely of robotics in terms of assembly. However, there is a lot more to automation ranging right from component marking right up to packaging and testing. Some of the automated systems being used by a best-in-class PCB Manufacturing service today, include:

  • Automated system of marking and labeling components
  • Machines that can pick up small components and place them on the board
  • Automated soldering systems
  • Routing machines
  • Automated systems for inspection
  • Test systems such as in-circuit tests or flying probe tests to ascertain manufacturing integrity.
  • Conveyors for transporting boards
  • Bar code readers for tracking components
  • Packaging systems to seal the final products as and when they are ready.

In fact, as PCB technology continues to advance, reliable Contract Manufacturers will continue to look for new and improved automated manufacturing systems to further streamline processes and to add to their efficacy. These will also include newer testing techniques that ensure that any errors do not go undetected.

It is imperative, therefore, that you choose a PCB Manufacturing service that that is committed to maintain a high level of automation that in turn, ensures high quality PCBs at the lowest possible costs. By ensuring this, you are making sure that the PCB fabrication service is not only geared to handle your current requirements, but is also equipped to tackle the changed landscape that is sure to develop in times to come.

At Mermar Electronics, we offer a one-stop solution for contract manufacturing and PCB fabrication. With our goal being to provide consistent product quality with quick turnaround time, we rely on the highest degree of automation. It is on account of this that we are also able to provide the highest degree of customer service and reliability to our clients. You can count on us to meet and exceed your PCB Manufacturing needs. We are ever committed to staying ahead of the curve, when it comes to meeting the growing demand for different types of PCB Fabrication Services.

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Top 5 Things to Consider for Choosing the Right PCB Fabrication and Assembly Service!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021

It is imperative to select the right PCB fabrication and assembly service as this choice can make a huge difference to the project by providing high quality PCB, reducing turnaround time as well as optimizing costs. On the other hand, it can be extremely frustrating to realize that the manufacturer that you have chosen is either unable to fulfill the turnaround time or has sub standard products to offer that can cost you your brand reputation.

To partner with the right provider, it is important to first ascertain your own needs. Even before one looks at the considerations to choose the right partner, it will be worthwhile to figure out the levels of manufacturing available:

PCB Fabrication

This service is useful when what you require is just fabrication and not assembly of components. With this option, however, you need to be comfortable with procuring parts on your own as well as assembling the board.

PCB fabrication and assembly

This option has the added advantage of getting the partner to fabricate the PCB as well as assemble it, while you provide the components.

Turnkey PCB Manufacturing

When availing of turnkey facilities, you are relieved of the responsibilities of procuring components. In this case the PCB manufacturer offers you ready to use PCBs. This facility assures you of quick turnaround times besides taking away the hassle of procuring materials.

Over and above this, there is also the possibility of availing of box build services where you can be assured of complete systems including PCBs with their parts and enclosures.

Aspects to consider when shortlisting PCB Fabrication & Assembly Service

Quality

Quality is certain to top your charts when it comes to PCBs. It is important to remember that if you are dealing with only a PCB fabrication USA, service, quality components aren’t his responsibility. Similarly, if you are opting for fabrication and assembly services, again sourcing components are your responsibility. It is only if you are opting for turnkey manufacturing, that the PCB manufacturer is responsible for the entire finished product.

Either way, it is imperative for you to check:

  • What quality control and testing methods are being deployed
  • Do the quality management systems adhere to industry norms and certifications?
  • Do the boards meet the IPC standards?

Turnaround Time

With time to market being a key source of competitive advantage, turnaround time is of essence. You, therefore, need to check with the manufacturer for the following aspects:

  • The standard turnaround being offered by the manufacturer
  • Is this time inclusive of design validation
  • If there are any design changes, do the timelines budget for that?
  • Are the timelines inclusive of delivery times

Cost

Cost is likely to be another aspect that could be crucial for the success of the project. In evaluating the cost, however, you need to account for the fact that in case you are opting for the fabrication only option, what are the additional costs that you have to incur in procuring components and in assembly. It will also be worthwhile to check the following:

  • Is the cost inclusive of a Design for manufacturing report?
  • For turnkey options, is the cost inclusive of concierge services to procure components that aren’t easily available?
  • Is the cost inclusive of testing costs?
  • Are Non-recurring engineering costs, accounted for?

Support

The level of support offered by the contract manufacturer is also crucial to be ascertained. To this end, you need to delve into it in some detail, especially since support cannot sit like a line item the way costs do, in a spreadsheet. It is important, therefore to seek the following clarifications with the manufacturer:

  • Availability of support team
  • Their level of expertise
  • Point of contact
  • Turnaround time for queries

Expertise

Last, but definitely not the least, it is important to ascertain the level of technical expertise of the contract manufacturer. Some of the areas to look at include:

  • Does the manufacturer have a specialized technical team with the requisite knowledge and industry experience?
  • Does he have the necessary expertise and experience when it comes specifically to your industry vertical?

Conclusion

It is essential to weigh in on the above factors before you make your choice. A quality turnkey PCB service will ensure the following:

  • Ensure quick turnaround times
  • Ensure BOM verifications
  • Source reliable components
  • Ensure PCB quality
  • Provide reliable support

Mermar Electronics has over 40 Years of Experience in providing full range of PCB Fabrication and PCB Manufacturing Service throughout the United States. Whether you require small to large production, Mermar Electronics excel in delivering Consistent Quality, On-Time and On-Budget PCB Fabrication Services in USA.

If you have any queries regarding to our products or services or need an urgent assistance, then please don’t hesitate to contact our team of skilled personnel’s. Send us an email with your queries at sales@mermarinc.com.

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