Several electronics manufacturing companies are desperate to cut down their PCB assembly costs. However, creating PCB assemblies is an intricate process. No PCB assembly expert is willing to work for low prices. Those who do secure low prices usually get low-quality circuit boards. Using low-quality PCBs can lead to expensive repair requirements, device failures, and a host of other challenges for electronics manufacturers.
The global printed circuit board assembly market’s valuation was $66.6 billion in 2020. The market is expected to reach even higher valuations as demand from the electronic and automotive industries will increase over the next decade. To address these expected increases in prices, electronics manufacturing companies must find new ways to cut down their PCB assembly costs without sacrificing the end-quality of their components and devices. Here’s a guide.
Invest More in Product Inspections and Tests
Investing more in product tests and inspections would increase the average cost of productions for electronics manufacturing companies. Yes. But, cutting down costs shouldn’t be the only motivation for electronics manufacturing companies. They also need to create products that are consistent in terms of quality. Implementing stricter quality control tests will help manufacturers avoid expensive repairs or failures. Thorough inspections of devices inform manufacturers about potential issues with their devices in advance.
Manufacturers shouldn’t just have their products inspected in their manufacturing plants, but they must also partner with PCB assemblers who prioritize inspections. Not all PCB assemblers are capable of providing water-tight inspection services. The ones who do can produce solid and durable PCB assemblies that don’t get damaged very easily. Some forms of inspection electronics manufacturing companies and their PCB assembly teams need to invest in are:
- Visual Inspections
- Automated X-Ray Inspections
- First Article Inspections
- Automated Optical Inspections
Does your PCB assembler provide these types of inspection services at the end of each production line? If not, they’re not suitable for large volume orders.
Source Components and Tools from Repeatable Providers
Electronics manufacturing companies have two options to source components and tools – they either do it themselves or depend on their PCB assemblers. Large-scale companies typically take the first route. They cut down PCB stencil costs by partnering with sellers who have years of experience resolving PCB rework challenges. These top sellers don’t just offer high-quality PCB stencils – they offer assurances of quality and consistency.
Companies of smaller sizes operating on tight budgets often depend on their PCB assemblers for sourcing components. In that case, these companies must partner with assembly experts who have long-standing relationships with component distributors. These professional relationships enable the PCB assemblers to source components from distributors at wholesale prices. To verify whether your PCB assembly partner has access to franchised component distributors, ask them to provide their purchase invoices from distributors.
Making adjustments to bare PCBs isn’t an ideal solution for electronics manufacturing companies. But, for companies operating on tight budgets, making these adjustments is the only way to cut down PCB assembly costs. Here are some simple adjustments that can be made to PCBs without affecting their quality too much:
- PCB Layers – The more layers your circuit board has, the more time and effort will be required to assemble them. That’s why electronics manufacturing companies looking to cut costs must settle for simple PCBs with fewer layer counts.
- Size – PCBs that are smaller in size aren’t necessarily cheaper. Modern-day PCBs are extremely dense. Even small-sized PCBs can be extremely complex. So, the circuit boards don’t need to be smaller to be cheaper; their sizes simply need to correspond with the manufacturers’ pick and place equipment. Only then can the PCBs be neatly and functionally attached to electronic devices. So, partnering with a PCB assembler who can consistently manufacture similarly sized PCBs (without sacrificing their quality) is vital for electronics manufacturing companies. Companies must also avoid creating devices that require oddly-shaped PCBs. Standard square or rectangle-shaped PCBs cost much less than PCBs with special shapes.
- Surface Finishes – Different types of surface finishes (ENEPIG, ENIG, HASL, etc.) offer different types of protection to PCB pads. Electronics manufacturing companies should ask their PCB assemblers to use the cheapest surface finishes that can prevent PCB pads from oxidizing. Bear in mind – surface finishes are ideal for ensuring the solderability and electric performances of PCBs. So, don’t compromise while selecting surface finishes. Instead, pick the best surface finishes that suit the electronic products’ unique requirements and stick to that choice for future manufacturing projects.
Partner with Reliable PCB Assemblers
Lastly, and most importantly, electronics manufacturing companies need to partner with reliable PCB assembly service providers who have the necessary certifications to handle large-scale projects. The PCB assemblers you partner with must also have access to the latest SMT (Surface Mount Technology) placement equipment.
The American PCB manufacturing and assembly industry earns $3.9 billion every year on average. The economic fallout of COVID-19 caused the industry to suffer from a temporary decline. But, as life return to normalcy, so will the costs of PCB manufacture and assembly. Electronics manufacturing companies must follow these tips and cut-down their PCB assembly costs!