While large companies might be able to handle production delays, you’ll want to look for a PCB assembly partner that can work quickly, while providing regular updates about the process and provide design for manufacturability (DFM) feedback. Keeping a few simple tips about the best industry practices in mind can save a good deal of grief when it comes time to send in your design.
If you’re looking to hire a company to provide prototype services, keep an eye out for any of the following red flags:
- Minimum production order requirements
- Prototype partner wants you to source all the parts by yourself
- Quotes take too long to get to you
- Quotes seem outrageous
- Long periods of time pass before the company gets back to you
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re dealing with a domestic prototype PCB assembly services company. While overseas companies might offer lower quotes, dealing with language, time zones, logistics and customs can add unforeseen delays and costs on top of whatever amount they claim it will cost. Shipping times between countries can also be extremely slow, which is a huge problem if you represent a smaller firm that needs to get a product to market as quickly as possible. Recent advances in PCB technology are making it possible for American manufacturers to now offer landed prices that are competitive against offshore options anyway.
Signs You’ve Picked a Good Partner
Companies that adhere to the best practices in the industry tend to make excellent partners. While it used to be rare to find service providers that accepted small production runs, many of the best domestic companies now have much smaller minimum orders. Established companies like BESTProto also offer PCB testing services, which gives you the option of going with a single service provider to assemble and test your circuit boards, thus cutting out the middleman. This also helps to decrease the amount of time it takes to get to full-scale production.
If you’re able to quickly get in touch with a representative from the assembly service provider, you’ve more than likely picked a good partner. Pay attention to how knowledgeable they seem. Prototype PCB assembly service providers that share the industry’s best practices with all of their employees are likely to make good partners.
Once you’ve made your decision and you’re sure that you’re working with the right partner, the prototyping process should be a breeze.