There are many popular questions that have come in via email and the Ask section of DesignSpark – one of the more interesting of these is when an engineer asks us for advice on who we would recommend they use to build the PCB they have just created with DesignSpark PCB… In the sprit of DesignSpark it would be rally useful for people to share their positive experiences and identify some pitfalls that you may have fallen into (without slandering any company of course please!).
So, there are usually lots of answers that we can give these engineers – making a decision about who is going to build your PCB is not a trivial choice and it is often difficult to recommend a supplier without asking more than a dozen questions first. What stage of your design are you at – prototype or ready for full production? What volume of boards do you require? Do you need testing? Do you need your PCB supplier to help with the final stages of layout? Do you need more than one supplier? How quickly do you need the boards? Is this very cost sensitive or can you pay more for better quality/yield? What is the impact on the performance of your design will be affected PCB manufacturing process? Is the geographic location of the PCB supplier important to you? How complex is your design and is it likely that only very specialised companies will be able to achieve your desired quality? What industry are you working in – does the PCB need to be manufactured to Class 3 high reliability specs for example? Do you expect/require your PCB manufacturer to identify faults and recommend solutions?
And on it goes….I don’t intend giving a guide on questions that you should ask your board manufacturer – there are plenty of guides about (OEM Guideline to Selecting PCB Suppliers, Selecting PCB Suppliers etc), but I’m more interested in what engineers are actually doing today and why.
We do refer engineers to reputable, experienced PCB board manufacturers that we have experience of working with and our partner network features several board houses that can help you. But it would be very interesting and useful for fellow members of DesignSpark to know who builds your PCBs, and more importantly why do they currently enjoy your business? So I’ll start the ball rolling – I’ll leave the company name out as I don’t want to appear biased towards or against any of our partners: I’ve used several suppliers over the past few years, all for low volume and time is not critical but cost is.
I always use local suppiers, it is important for me to be able to speak to my board house and it helps if they speak my language, trade in my currency and are in my timezone. I’m usually not overly worried about getting any further advice on my design but I like to know that they are not going to build something where I’ve obviously screwed up! So, I have been using a nearby pool service recently where my board house does some basic checks only.
- Electronic Interconnect Granted UL Approval for New High Thermal Performance PCB Products (prweb.com)
- Test driving the DesignSpark PCB design tool (electronics-lab.com)
- Simple LED Clock PCB Design (electronics-lab.com)
- Printable wax as PCB etch resist (hackaday.com)
- Apple adding PCB suppliers to boost iPad 2 production (electronista.com)