Almost every electronic device has a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) assembly, which contains different electronic components like integrated circuits (ICs), capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, oscillators, inductors, connectors, etc. PCB Assembly have conducting traces to connect every electronic component on them in a closed loop such that the desired electrical operation occurs. As PCB with components is a vital component in electronic devices, hunting for a reliable and trustworthy PCB assembly manufacturer is essential for reliable, durable, and quality electronic products.
Chinese PCBA manufacturers can produce and assemble high-quality printed circuits with competitive printing. But most times we need to search and locate the PCBA suppliers from the internet because of the distance, so it is challenging to find a trusted PCB assembly manufacturer in China. The following are some essential tips that will help you find a trusted PCB assembly supplier for your electronic project.
Understand Your Requirement:
The first and foremost step before choosing a circuit board manufacturer is to know your project’s PCB requirements. It is important to define deciding factors like turnaround time, quantity, quality, and printed circuit board type. The best way to do it is to make a checklist and go through the list many times before contracting the circuit board manufacturer. Following are some important points related to knowing the requirements before selecting any PCB manufacturer.
- PCB Parameters: Layers, material, PCB dimensions, surface finish, drill size, trace width/space and other special technology such as blind/buried vias, impedance control, via plug, etc.
- PCB BOM and components: The BOM list with the brands, part number, and quantity per PCB of all components.
- The scale of the factory: PCB factories vary from dozens of staff to several thousands of staff, so we need to choose the one that fits our demands.
- Lead time： Considering turnaround time and project timeline, choose the one whose turnaround time matches the project timeline.
- Quantity of PCB: Most PCB manufacturers focus on different aspects of quantity. Some are good at big quality, some are good at low-middle quantity, and some are good at quick turn prototypes. Some printed circuit board manufacturers have minimum order quantities (MOQ).
In the next step, it is important to know, that only shortlist those PCB assembly manufacturers who meet the highest quality standards and own international certifications like ISO 9001, UL certification, and vice versa relevant to the manufacturing of printed circuit boards. This helps to know which circuit board manufacturer is more committed to providing compliance and quality to customers meeting international industrial standards.
Printed circuit board fabrication involves technical knowledge that depends on experience. A well-known, experienced company has a better understanding and solutions to every technical problem related to PCB fabrication and assembly, which results in PCB with the highest quality standards. So, it is important to hunt for PCB assembly manufacturers that have an extensive track record of high-quality printed circuit board fabrication and success in quality products. While shortlisting for your project just ask for their experience or if they have relevant experience to do your job.
It is one of the factors that affect the time frame you decide for the completion of the project. If you choose PCB assembly manufacturers who don’t meet deadlines, then it could cost you time to complete your project. So, it is important to consider supply chain-related factors like lead time, shipping options, and order tracking. Good, experienced printed circuit board manufacturers have extensive logistics operations to meet deadlines and deliver the ordered PCB assembly in a timely manner.
Cost plays a vital role in decision-making when selecting a suitable printed circuit board manufacturer. Cost considerations don’t mean compromising on quality and reliability but having a balance between cost and durability and reliability of the product. Also, cost consideration doesn’t mean hiring cheaper PCB assembly manufacturers with low-quality end products, but it includes hunting for the best printed circuit board manufacturer who meets all requirements with the best quality product and is also not very expensive. So, it is important to request clear and detailed quotations from different circuit board manufacturers. After comparing all the parameters and prices, select one PCB assembly manufacturer that offers reliable and good-quality products at a reasonable cost.
Lead time or turnaround time refers to the time taken by the PCBA manufacturer to complete the fabrication of the PCB and ready for delivery from the moment when an order is placed. It is a very important factor to consider while selecting a printed circuit board manufacturer, as it can affect the product’s overall completion timeline. Some PCBA factories focus on mass production with longer lead time, such as 4-6 weeks; some focus on low volume production with shorter lead time, such as 1-2 weeks; and some focus on quick turn production as short as 24 hours, so you need to choose the most suitable one according to your product deadline. It is a good practice to check the turnaround time record of manufacturers and choose a manufacturer with a good track record of meeting deadlines if possible.
If mass production of PCB assembly is required, then this factor must be taken into consideration when choosing a printed circuit board manufacturer for the project. Some PCB assembly companies are very good in small production orders but unable to meet larger project requirements while others are better than average in large-scale production. To attain the project’s volume, it is important to align the project with the circuit board manufacturer’s production capacity. So, it is important to ensure that which printed circuit board manufacturer can scale the production of PCBs according to the project’s volume.
Quality Control Processes:
Quality control is also important in the PCB manufacturing and assembly process. This comes once the printed circuit board is fabricated to ensure that it meets the required standards. Vigorous Quality checking encourages the enhancement of the reliability and quality of fabricated PCBs. Generally, QC involves but is not limited to.
- Inspection and examination of raw material.
- Check if the copper traces are perfect by using AOI equipment.
- Inspection of drilled holes either for through-hole components or mounting holes, also involves hole placement.
- Check for the solder mask and silkscreen being properly applied.
- Electrical testing for open and short.
- Visual inspection and final QA inspection before delivering.
In a nutshell, a printed circuit board manufacturer with robust QC checks is generally supposed to deliver the most reliable PCBs to meet the highest standards.
The importance of customer support and post-sale support can’t be overstated. Effective communication of PCB assembly companies allows their customers to convey all PCB requirements and specifications even during the designing and manufacturing phases. A knowledgeable team also provides insights, design guidelines, and solutions to problems while fabricating the required PCB ordered by the customer.
Extensive customer support also enables printed circuit board manufacturers to get real-time customer feedback during manufacturing to produce quality custom-end products according to customer requirements. Updates from PCBA suppliers to customers related to production timeline, order status, and shipping make the whole manufacturing process transparent and smooth. It also includes post-sales support to customers, to address any problem that arises after delivering manufactured printed circuit boards.
Hence, customer support is responsible for effective collaboration between PCB assembly manufacturers and customers to ensure technical assistance, effective communication, and eventually the success of the overall project.
Choosing the best PCB assembly manufacturer for the project is very important as this decision can impact the success or failure of the project. Considering the above points helps to make informed decisions and helps to align the project’s requirements while selecting the best circuit board manufacturer for the project. Spending more time in the selection of potential manufacturers can pay off in the long run, ensuring high-quality PCB within the required time after its smooth fabrication processes.