Low volume engineers and designers face many challenges that large scale manufacturers do not. They may find that it is more expensive to design, print, and manufacturer their PCB fabrications. They also might find that the entire design and low volume PCB assembly process takes longer. If you are a low volume engineering services company, you can take advantage of the following cost savings tips.
Request low volume design services
The reason that the design and PCB assembly process is costlier for smaller businesses is that they do not have as much volume to stretch out the costs. However, you might be able to find PCB fabrication and design services that offer low volume and low production services. You might be able to combine your low volume designs with other smaller engineering companies. You also might be able to find a turnkey PCB service that offers fewer customizations but at a more affordable price.
Request a longer assembly process timeline
The advent of machine assembly for any size orders means that shops can assemble PCBs in a fraction of the time it would normally take for hand placement. In fact, some PCB assemblers have a standard turnaround time of 5 days or less, which is 75% faster than the industry average. You might opt for a slower production time or work with a PCB assembly company that still offers the hand placement services. Even larger scale PCB assemblies with faster production times might be willing to offer a better price during off times when the assembly line is not working on larger orders.
Extend the time between assemblies
Another option is to produce larger scale assemblies. If you can prolong the time between manufacturing and assembly processes, you can request larger orders. The larger orders can result in lower assembly costs. If you are producing multilayer boards, you might also be able to qualify for high volume orders. Most common multilayer boards are 4 layers, 6 layers, 8 layers, and 10 layers. However, the total number of layers that can be manufactured can exceed to over 42 layers. These boards are used in extremely complex electronic circuits and usually require a higher volume PCB assembly.
Use older assembly production methods
Before PCB design software was introduced, printed circuit boards were designed using clear Mylar sheets, up to four times bigger than the circuit board itself, on which designers would create a transparent photomask of the proposed design. Depending on the complexity of your PCB designs, this might still be an option for increased cost savings. Additionally, using the transparent photomask method does not mean that you have to entirely give up on updated assembly practices. Instead, use the transparent masks for the design process. Use it to troubleshoot and make needed changes. Once you have a final product, you can go with updated prototype PCB assembly processes. Because errors are common, you can save production costs with fewer assembly services.
Work specifically with low volume PCB manufacturing companies
Companies that specifically work with smaller assembly PCB manufacturers are able to price more affordable. If you are finding it difficult to meet your production needs, despite the methods suggested, it might be worth it to search for low volume PCB manufacturing companies in the area. They do not necessarily have to work only with smaller volume PCB designers but offer PCB assembly services to smaller businesses.
The use of PCB circuit boards is very important in many industries. The research and advancement of the PCB assembly process have made it possible to create extremely complex items. However, smaller PCB designers might have trouble affording assembly services for smaller batch PCBs. These methods will help these smaller businesses to produce their designs, without breaking the budget.