The first essential requirement that we need to have when choosing a PCB/A manufacturer is quality. If you are looking for long-term cooperation, make sure that your supplier?s quality will not fall away after the main orders.
Balancing quality and cost is the key here. The best action is to make a detailed checklist with requirements that the provider has to confirm before initiating any cooperation process.
The printed circuit boards are essential for the proper operation of the product. It is extremely important to find a reliable and cost-effective manufacturer. There are a lot of PCB developers to choose from, which can make the choosing process a challenge.
This is exactly what we are going to be reviewing in this article. We will cover everything from quality to how it influences the cost and what we should aim for, depending on our needs.
First, let?s review the top 3 PCB/A manufacturers worldwide, starting with?
1. Flex (Flexible) PCB Boards
Flex PCB is the leading UK PCB manufacturer. They are a suitable choice if you are looking for the right mixture of price and quality that we have already discussed. They meet any volume and technical requirements at good prices. With 58 Years in the industry, Flex PCB is a proven PCB distributor worldwide.
2. Celestica Aviation - Supply Resources
With approximately 30,000 employees and around 20 locations worldwide, Celestica is the largest Canada electronic providing service. Their product quality is undoubtedly excellent! Before contacting them, unlike other manufacturers, Celestica has a variety of requirements.
Before engaging in long-term projects, Celestica supplies the customers with a quality specifications document to fill in. Then after an inside discussion, the manufacturer provides the client with an answer if the requirements can be covered and how can they proceed.
3. SMTC Corporation (SMTX)
Founded in 1985, SMTC is a middle size manufacturer and provides electronics services including PCBA production. SMTC has approximately 500,000 square feet of manufacturing capabilities located in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and China.
Quality Control in Printed Circuit Boards
When looking for quality manufacturers, you have to look at the industries they are specializing in. Different companies have different needs in particular. It is the same in the manufacturers, each one is best and focused on one exact industry.
Make sure that your needs and expectations match the manufacturer?s field of work. This is the only way to acquire a product designed exceptionally for your current situation and needs.
PCBs are the basic and most used assembly unit that is applied in all electronic devices. In order to ensure PCBs quality, you need to cover the following aspects:
? Capability - Investigated and approved by the manufacturing department, the capability is an essential part of the design.
? Quality Control Inspection - Measurement and monitoring have to be strict practices of the manufacturers. The results have to be stored and rules related to the developing process have to be made additionally from failures.
? Ensured PCB design Manufacturability - The project leader has to check and confirm that all the requirements are covered in order for the development process to proceed. If the process is denied, then all the information has to be stored and used to prevent any further denials.
? Ensured Normalization and Testability - This is the process of checking the analyzing the test points, dimensions, routing, structural style and testability for manufacturing.
? Designer Check - Before starting with the manufacturing, PCB designers have to check and confirm the drawn designs.
We cannot skip mentioning the IPC (Institute for Printed Circuits). Found in 1957, the IPC represents electronics design and printed circuit board manufacturing and electronics assembly.
The organization?s goal is to improve manufacturing quality and periodically release acceptability standards. It is a form of qualification and specifications regarding the performance of the design. It is aiming at the majority of electronics components and printed circuit boards.
The printed circuit board manufacturers are going through training for the relevant IPC specifications. This is the way the quality is ensured and delivers the expected kind of product.
We will review some of the quality specifications from IPC:
? Class 1 - It includes all suitable products for an application covering the major requirements and the assembly is completed and functioning.
? Class 2 - It is focused on the performance and extending the life, continuous and uninterrupted service is targeted.
? Class 3 - High performance here is critical! Equipment downtime is to acceptable and tolerated, end-use equipment must be functional when required and life support is provided.
Now when you know these important key practices, you should look for them when choosing a supplier. Now we will see?
The search is higher for multilayer PCBs with more than two layers and especially with more than four. The price cost here is essential and the search volume is directly affected.
? 1-Layer to 2-Layers: [30% to 35%] price increase
? 2-Layers to 4-Layers: [35% to 45%] price increase
? 4-Layers to 6-Layers: [30% to 40%] price increase
? 6-Layers to 8-Layers: [30% to 35%] price increase
? 8-Layers to 10-Layer: [20% to 30%] price increase
? 10-Layers to 12-Layers: [20% to 30%] price increase
The second layer is one of the most significant price increases in the developing process.
The finished design you choose for your PCB will also affect the cost. It is a minor factor and its influence is not that significant. However, we will still cover it by presenting the 5 most common finished types.
1. OSP - Organic Solderability Preservatives, it is also called anti-tarnish. It is based on clean and bare copper by adsorption. It is stopping copper from being oxide, but it has to be eliminated by the flux in the process later on. It is easily exposed in order for the clean copper to be jointed with melting solder joints. The benefit is that it can be generated in a very short time.
2. HASL - Hot Air Solder Leveling design is one of the most popular finish choices! However, there are known limitations that were discovered by manufacturers in the last few years. It leaves uneven surfaces and it is not suitable for pitch components. It seems fair for its low price and robustness.
3. IMM Sn - Immersion Silver is in the thickness range of 0.124uM to 0.49uM. It is excellent for fine pith products and has a planar surface. There are more advantages such as its short & easy process, it does not affect the hole size and it has a long shelf-life. On the other hand there are some disadvantages, for example, it has a high friction coefficient and the tarnishing must be controlled. Overall it is good for multiple insertions.
4. ENEPIG - Electroless NI / Electroless Pd / Immersion AI. It is coated with an electroless palladium layer. Topped with immersion gold and forming a superior solder join with SAC solders. It is creating a perfect bondable surface with a gold wire. It also allows a thinner gold application that effectively influences the end price. It is offering a 12 months shelf life and it is the fastest-growing surface finish design.
5. ENIG - Electroless Nickel Immersion Gold quickly became the most popular surface finish in that field of work. It has a double-layered metallic coat with nickel acting as a barrier to the copper surface. There is a pure layer of gold that is protecting the nickel during storage. It is a suitable surface finish for industries that require flat surfaces.
As you now have a better understanding of all the objects you have to choose when ordering PCBs, you still have to?
Choose an Assembly Method
In general, this is one of the most difficult parts of the production process of the printed circuit boards. The main problem for the manufacturers is the physically attaching parts on the board, which can present a great challenge for the low-quantity PCB fabrications.
When choosing an assembly method, basically you have three options:
? Professional Assembly - The primary objective here is the price. The product here is very reliable, but the process is not cheap and it requires a lot of manufacturing data, such as BOM information, Solder mask, and Placement data.
? DIY Reflow - The approach here is to deposit the solder paste, placing the components and bake the PCB in a toaster oven. Manually depositing the solder paste, requires the usage of a stencil, which is a flat surface object with openings for the solder-paste locations.
? Hot-Air-Gun Soldering - There is only one difference between the DIU reflow and the hot-air-gun and this is the heat source. It is good for the manufacturing process to be proficient in depositing solder paste and accurately placed components. It is highly effective for the smaller boards, as far as the reflow, it requires a more elaborate setup.
The recommendation here is to aim for better quality. The price is determined by numerous factors and it is almost impossible to acquire a good-quality board for a low price. The advice here is to take each of the presented above factors into consideration before you make any budget decision.
If you need a PCB design for a high-tech you should be considering the class 3 IPC manufacturers that offer the best quality on the market.
We hope that the article was helpful to you in your search of manufacturers and we wish you the best of luck in the future.
If this article was helpful, make sure to check the PCBONLINE outstanding informational blog as they are great in that industry.
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