PCBs or Printed Circuit Boards have become an indispensable part of our daily lives.
A concept that began several decades ago, has today become an almost every day necessity, and found in everything from toys to spacecrafts and everything in between.
This is not without reason.
From space management and efficiency to durability and low cost, a whole host of factors have played a key role in making this piece of technology an important part of modern society.
And it is very likely that they will make their presence felt well into the future, albeit with better designs and features.
For manufacturers and primary users of PCBs, getting the right ones can prove to be quite a challenge, whether online or offline.
Given in the steps below, are some important strategies to look into, when getting PCBs online.
1.) Get a Suitable Supplier
This is by far one of the most important things worth paying attention to.
One mistake here will end up causing a cascading effect down the road, all the way until the final fabrication level.
Given the widespread use of PCBs, it isn’t hard to find a suitable supplier for the same. At the same time however, it is going to be a difficult task trying to get the right people to do the job, give that not all companies or individuals have the kind of skillset and means to deliver what you need.
It would therefore be a good idea for one to take some time and verify the suppliers, before signing on the dotted line for the shipments.
2.) Check the Credentials & Other Details
Once the company has been identified, a little background information would prove to be of great help.
There are many ways to do this. One of the most important would be that of checking with local business registries, government records, and if one is really into background checks, to get some testimonies from former clients.
In addition to this, it would also be a good idea to check out the manufacturing facilities of the supplier, wherever possible, so as to get a first hand glimpse of where the PCBs will be assembled and manufactured.
3.) Try to Use an Escrow Service
An escrow service is a company that acts as a financial mediator, between two or more parties.
They are usually used as a ‘trust’ of sorts, where they hold money in the name of their clients, until a certain assignment or project is completed.
The usage of escrow services are often done for the sake of promoting trust and preventing cheating, and have become an important part of the modern day world.
Widespread in use across the business world, it would be a good idea to get in touch with them, so as to enjoy peace of mind and stable business dealing. They will charge a certain percentage as commission but it’s all worth it in the end.
4.) Figure out Your Design
Once the suppliers have been confirmed, the next thing to do would be the design stage.
The average PCB can be designed in any number of ways, depending on the size of the board and the need of the client. This in turn necessitates a design that is efficient, simple and at the same time cost effective.
Previously done manually, it is today a largely computerized process, where the design process from the beginning until the end is managed by specialized software.
Furthermore, the design process itself may be done either with the help of designers working for the company, or have the project outsourced to a third party supplier.
5.) Complete the Necessary Registrations
With the final designs ready, the next step would be to get busy with the registrations.
Quite often, PCB manufacturers will request that one registers themselves with the business, before they make any transaction.
This stage will require you to provide a lot of information, ranging from the name and address of your company, to payment details, identification documents, etc.
All of these details are necessary for a range of reasons, such as the verification of the buyer, legal requirements, and the need for a shipping address and so on.
6.) Submit Your PCB Board Layout
Once the design has been finalized, the next step would be the submission of the same to the PCB supplier.
Done electronically, the process should take only a few minutes at most, and help begin with the manufacturing process.
In addition to this, it would be a good idea to request for a sample shipment first, before going in for a large batch. It should ensure that there aren’t any problems down the line with the PCB quality, final layout, final design or anything else. Should there be any issues with this sample batch, one can take steps to have the necessary changes made before continuing the PCB production.
Once the production is complete, you should be able to expect the shipment from the supplier. Larger orders are typically delivered in batches, over several days or sometimes even weeks and months.
7.) Prepare Paperwork When Necessary
This is not so much a guaranteed requirement, but a fairly common one.
In cases where the supplier is overseas, there may be the need to fill out a bit of paperwork, such as those concerning shipping, customs, duties, etc, at the port of entry. Similar ones may exist with banks, with regard to clearance of foreign payments.
Also worth pointing out here, is that one will need to keep in constant touch with the shipping companies. Quite often, international shipping companies give a certain ‘tracking number’ which can be used to identify the location of one’s delivery, often in real time. As much as it isn’t necessary, keeping a close eye on things will help keep things running smoothly.
It should be noted that the clearance of these papers may take some time, depending on the typical time needed, to the existing workload of the competent authorities.
If one wishes to avoid this little step, it would be a good idea to go for a local supplier, as much of the hassles can be avoided by both the parties.
To sum it up, steps like these and others like it should help you get the ideal PCB for your projects.
There are indeed many more such strategies that can be used as well, all of which will go a long way in making things easier and efficient, and speeding up your work in the long run.