PCB needs everywhere today. Whether it be a smartphone or a laptop, you will find one. Most industries need it, too, for their workflow.
However, PCB purchase can be a complicated process, and usually takes hours of research. Our 10-year long experience in this field comes handy here. Remember, PCB purchase is not dependent on cost alone. Before you seal the deal, you have to consider the numerous factors given below. To ensure that you get the most out of any PCB deal, we are going to tell you what to keep in mind while buying.
- Do They Have The Right Processes in Place?
- Do You Need Programming?
- Will Your Custom PCB Work the Way it Should?
- Can You Customize It?
- Choose the Right Assembly Method
- How Easy is it for Component Procurement?
- What About the Certification and Quality Standards?
- Choose the Right Solder Alloy
- How to Find Low-Cost PCB?
- Check the PC Fabricator Quality
- Finally, How Easy is it to Get a Quote?
1、Do They Have The Right Processes in Place?
First, make sure that the company is capable of producing your required model of PCB. For instance, if your board has a Ball Grid Array (BGA), ensure the company offers BGA assembly. Moreover, it should also have rework capability. Classic surface mount connections generally arrange pins on the side. Meanwhile, BGA uses the underside of the package to organize the pins in a grid pattern.
Take types of BGA as an example:
1. Moulded Array Process Ball Grid Array (MAPBGA):
BGA package for low and mid-performance devices. You see it on tools that need low inductance and easy surface mounting. It is a highly reliable, low-cost package with a small footprint.
2. Plastic Ball Grid Array (PBGA):
You see it on medium and high-performance devices. These devices need low inductance and easy surface mounting. The substrate of this low-cost package contains copper layers. enables it to handle high levels of power dissipation.
3. Thermally Enhanced Plastic Ball Grid Array (TEPBGA):
The substrate of this package contains full copper planes. enables it to handle even higher levels of power dissipation.
Choosing the right BGA for your specific product and assembly requirements is crucial. However, the company will not be able to test BGA only with electrical performance. X-Ray Inspection is the only appropriate measure to test BGA. This inspection can see through the layers to the joint below. Thus, ensure the company has the X-Ray Inspection equipment for verifying the assembly.
These production processes can be provided correctly at WellPCB. Guarantee the quality and function of the product. And we can provide programming suggestions, you need to provide your ideas and documents. Glad to help you.
2、 Do You Need Programming?
You might need preprogrammed parts or parts programmed in place/in-circuit. The easiest method is to get preprogrammed ICs from the manufacturer. Though cost-effective, this method is not flexible. Because it doesn’t allow any feature changes later, alternatively, you can go for dedicated programming headers that will enable easy software changes. Sure, it has the added cost of the connector. However, it is still a popular way to program devices.
You can also go for pogo pins or universal headers according to the requirements of your PCB. You use Pogo pins for high volume PCB while the latter in low to medium size PCB. Ensure that the manufacturer is capable of providing such programming features.
3、Will Your Custom PCB Work the Way it Should?
It depends on the quantity and quality of support the company readily offers you. For example, there can be errors in the layout or BOM, or the parts might not match the footprints on the board. In such cases, the company should expertly review the design and point out these mistakes. Otherwise, you will have to redo the entire prototype from scratch. It will not only be frustrating but expensive and time-consuming as well.
Thus, the company support is critical in every stage - be it prototyping or production.
4、Can You Customize It?
Choose a manufacturer that can customize the PCB to your specific requirements. The experience of the company within the industry becomes crucial here.
1. Customer Reviews
Make sure to look at the customer reviews and the product history of the company. will help you understand the quality and the extent of work they do. Make sure they are capable of catering to the unique requirements of each customer.
2. Minimum Order Requirements
Ensure that they can fulfill your minimum order requirements. With the right manufacturer, you can get a low-cost, high volume PCB. Also, highly individualized attention can help you to alter your prototype easily.
3. Customer Service
Dedicated and responsive customer service ensures your PCB matches your exact needs. Customer support is crucial in every stage, including prototyping and assembly.
Choose a manufacturer that regularly tracks and reports the progress of your product. They should upload the associated bills, files, and documents correctly and automatically. Also, they should be able to support your file formats.
5、Choose the Right Assembly Method
Take care to choose the proper assembly method for you. For instance, you need to determine whether you want to go for hot air gun assembly or DIY reflow. It will help you answer the PCB you need.
1. Reflow Soldering: In this method, you pass the meeting through a reflow oven. Enables you to attach the components to the circuit board. You can do this even without professional equipment and reduce the assembly cost.
2. Hot Air Soldering: You use this method for circuit board rework or to fix soldering errors on aboard. It melts the solder by blowing hot air at a particular area of the circuit board.
6、 How Easy is it for Component Procurement?
You need PCB assemblers who can offer a speedy component sourcing service. They should deliver the components within due time, with no extra delay or wasted costs.
Furthermore, the right PCB Components will ensure the prototype device functions correctly. Otherwise, they might fail in the testing stage itself.
Choose a manufacturer that has fast turn-around time and high-quality PCB components.
7、What About the Certification and Quality Standards?
The quality of the product is crucial in all stages, especially in prototype and design. Even the slightest error in the design or assembly can lead to the entire project’s failure.
The PCB you order should be compliant with regulatory safety requirements. Additionally, it should also follow UL (Underwriters Laboratories). UL is the most established certifying agency for product safety. It tests the performance and certifies a wide range of PCB designs and materials. If your PCB has the UL logo, you can rest assured that it is safe from electric hazards like fire and shock.
The product needs to be compliant with the ISO quality management system as well.
8、Choose the Right Solder Alloy
When it comes to your PCB assembly, choosing the right solder alloy is crucial.
You will find three types of solders depending on its melting temperature:
1. Lead-based solders:
These solders have a combination of tin and lead. While prevalent in the past, lead-based solders are declining in popularity today. due to the hazardous effects, it poses on both health as well as the environment.
2. Lead-free solders:
An answer to lead-based weld, lead-free solders are widely recommended for use. However, their higher melting point makes it comparatively hard to work.
3. Silver alloy solders:
These solders may or may not contain lead and are relatively more expensive.
Select the most suitable solder for your project’s temperature range and applications. For this, the company needs to provide the details of the welding and show its certification. The kind of welding that you use will affect various factors of the PCB assembly. Including conference reliability, accuracy, and execution. Moreover, it will significantly impact the cost-effectiveness of your overall operation.
9、How to Find Low-Cost PCB?
Choose a manufacturer that uses automated equipment for production. With it, the production cost will go down. Will automatically reduce the selling price of the products. At the same time, it also increases the precision and efficiency of the products.
However, the pricing of PCB also depends on its quality and design. Changing the base material or the material of the solder mask can reduce the cost of PCBs. Thus, it is not always wise to choose PCB only based on its price. Before buying the right PCB, make sure to validate its quality against the cost.
10、Check the PC Fabricator Quality
The quality of PCB manufacturing profoundly impacts its performance and durability. Therefore, ensure the quality of the PC fabricator before you buy it. The vendor product should meet the established industry standards. Moreover, they should also test the product rigorously before shipping it to you. Choose a manufacturer that maintains strict rules and a scientific attitude in production.
11、Finally, How Easy is it to Get a Quote?
See how transparent the company is and what strategy they use. Check if the company provides instant online price quotes and fast fabrication. It is not only time saving but also shows the transparency of the price structure. The manufacturer should involve you in all stages – from prototype to delivery.
With your ideas and documents, we can help to review the design of your PCB just the way you want. Our experts will run through different tests to ensure what works the best. Then, we let you know the results.
From design and production to delivery, every factor impacts the quality of your PCB. Therefore, carefully consider the above factors to ensure that you get the most out of your PCB deal.