How to Choose the Most Suitable PCB Manufacturer

Posted on 2020-07-09

PCB manufacturing and assembly contains many links and should be carefully checked one by one. The process is mainly centered on products, functions and services. So, which aspects should be used to evaluate and select the appropriate PCB manufacturer?

Product

The quality of the printed circuit board will directly affect the application and performance of your final product. Therefore, the priority principle for evaluating PCB manufacturers is to check the status of their products, which can be expanded from three aspects: quality, industry and cost.

Quality

Everyone is eager to obtain high quality from the following aspects:

  • PCB manufacturing process in the process of whether SPC such as component Cpk control or manufacturing management chart has been applied;
  • Whether continuous quality management improvements such as QCC or TQM have been implemented;
  • Whether ECO (Engineering Change Order) management is applied;
  • Whether the terms and conditions of the component exemption control principles have been issued;
  • Whether they meet strict quality control assessments, including material inspection records and management, SMT yield, AQL level, document management, BOM preservation, ESD implementation, equipment calibration;

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Industry

Printed circuit boards are used in many different industries, and specific industries have strict and special requirements for their manufacturing standards. It is almost impossible for a PCB manufacturer to cover all industries uniformly. Generally speaking, they tend to be better at serving certain industries than others. For example, PCB manufacturers proficient in handling mobile phone PCBs must have enough experience to limit the space of the final product. PCB manufacturers that primarily serve the aerospace industry will definitely perform better at high density.

In this case, you must fully understand the industry that the PCB manufacturer you are investigating is good at, so that you can work with professional partners.

Cost

Although there are hints to reduce PCB assembly costs, price is sometimes the main factor driving our final decision. As a necessary consideration when selecting a PCB manufacturer, the cost should be analyzed from two aspects:

Overall quote – don’t just be addicted to attractive numbers. Reliable PCB manufacturers are responsible for every word they claim. You should make sure that the price given to you by their sales staff is a complete price without any hidden or extra money later in your order;

Continuously reduce costs – it refers to some discounts on your reordering. Although PCB manufacturers will never offer you consistently low prices, you can expect constant discounts when reordering, such as free tool costs. This strategy is a solid foundation for long-term cooperation;

Ability

As mentioned above, product quality is the soul of PCB manufacturers, it depends on its function. PCB manufacturing and assembly functions can be displayed in the following areas:

Certificate

The certificate represents the manufacturing capabilities of the PCB manufacturer. When working with PCB manufacturers that have passed ISO9001:2008, UL, RoHS and other standard certifications, you can rest assured that they will strictly abide by these certification regulations to obtain high-quality products.

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Technology

The technical aspects of the PCB manufacturer evaluated can be summarized as follows:

  • Whether the applied technology meets your requirements and whether the processing capacity meets your requirements;
  • Whether it is to promote equipment processing or automation in their factories;
  • Whether they creatively play a technical role;
  • Whether it can lead new processing methods in the market;
  • Processing capacity assessment;
  • BGA IC repair capability;
  • 0201 or 01005 welding ability and repair ability;
  • RoHS implementation capabilities;
  • SOP integrity;
  • How to set the wrong material selection and negative polarity;
  • The ability to check circuits and provide DFM services;
  • Humidity sensitivity level (MSL) component control function;
  • Solder paste temperature recovery, sealing and storage life management functions;
  • De-panel processing capacity;

Equipment

Until the latest technology is applied to the latest equipment, they will never fully flourish. In terms of PCB manufacturing and assembly, the leading equipment and its required specifications include:

  • Solder paste printing accuracy. Whether it can print small components such as 01005 and CSP and what type of template is required;
  • Solder paste thickness checker, such as SPI (solder paste inspection);
  • SMT pick and place machine accuracy, which is related to its ability to register miniature components, such as 01005 and CSP;
  • X-ray detector. In general, the X-ray inspection equipment of the SMT factory is 2D, suitable for shortcut inspection and vacancy;
  • AOI (Automatic Optical Inspection);
  • ICT equipment (Agilent 3070, GenRad, TR5000);

Component source

When it comes to the services provided by PCB assemblers, component procurement accounts for a large proportion. This is crucial to study component procurement capabilities, including:

  • Whether they maintain good relations with the world’s leading component distributors;
  • Whether the components they purchase are qualified;
  • Whether they accept components provided by customers;
  • Whether they store the remaining components for your future projects;

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Service

The service is closely related to the customer’s true feeling after completing the order. Compared with products and functions, this project is not so difficult to achieve. When it comes to services provided by PCB manufacturers, it mainly includes the following aspects:

1. Lead time

PCB delivery time can be investigated from the following aspects:

  • Whether it can be delivered in time;
  • Whether the delivery time is compatible to meet your company’s requirements;
  • Tracking service;

Some manufacturers even provide you with tracking services so they can understand where your product has disappeared. Usually, well-known PCB suppliers or assembly suppliers work closely with major Express companies.

2. Responsiveness

Responsiveness represents the company’s response to customer needs. You can conduct a simple study from the following perspectives:

  • Can they respond quickly to new things and order quickly?
  • Can they reply to your email and provide full details within 24 hours?
  • Can they provide practical solutions in the event of an emergency?
  • When you have urgent orders, can they expand manufacturing capacity?
  • When projects change before or during production, how quickly can they respond?

However, the sales staff know very little about the company’s manufacturing capabilities, especially when looking for technical advice and confirmation, which is understandable. If you encounter sales, he or she will not reply to you until he or she gets a clear reply from the company’s technical staff. You can directly ask the technical staff to consult these questions. Save time and help avoid any unnecessary errors during mail transfer.