This is an interesting time to be in the printed circuit board industry. On the one hand, PCB boards are being used in more products and processes than ever; and on the other hand, PCB manufacturing has grown by leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades.
In other words, companies have a greater demand than ever, but they are also faced with so many choices that it can be difficult to locate the right provider or vendor.
The answer, as it often does, lies in the details. That is, there are certain things you should look for in PCB fabrication that can make all the difference. That's especially true when it comes to prototypes, which aren’t just important to design and manufacturing, but also tend to be time-sensitive.
Here are some key criteria for you to consider when choosing a printed circuit board prototyping company, based on our years of experience in the industry:
As any experienced manufacturer can tell you, not all PCB boards live up to the same quality standards. In fact, failure rates across different manufacturers can vary to a large degree. Quality is critical across the design and prototyping process, where small mistakes can become magnified and affect not only costs, but the success or failure of an entire product or project.
One interesting thing about printed circuit board manufacturing and prototypes is that quality and pricing don't always go directly hand in hand. More experienced designers and producers will generally command higher rates, of course, but the industry as a whole is so competitive that few businesses charge a lot more than their competitors. As a result, it makes sense for clients to shop around when looking for prototypes and PCB fabrication.
This is one area where making the right choice is extremely critical. Most PCB prototyping projects are run on very tight deadlines. And, while most businesses quote a turnaround time of five business days (and can actually take longer), teams like ours can produce working PCB prototypes within 48 hours or less. When your design teams are on a tight schedule, that kind of speed can make all the difference in manufacturing schedules and product delivery.
PCB prototype projects can cover a lot of different scopes and sizes, meaning a "small" order to one company could be huge to another. For that reason, there isn't necessarily a standard minimum order that will apply to every printed circuit board manufacturing company, but it is important to find one that can meet your needs in terms of minimum orders (usually measured in square inches).
When it comes to printed circuit board prototypes, one size certainly does not fit all. The specifications of your product (or its working environment) can drastically change the needs you'll have for size, complexity, and other criteria. The more customization specialization you need on your PCB prototype, the more important it is you choose a trained and experienced team who has not only the right tools, but also the skills needed to give you the versatility you require.
While some PCB manufacturers are industry-specific, others (like our team) have worked for a number of different public and private customers. Having someone with the right background and industry experience can be important on the technical level, but it also factors into things like reliability and cost-effectiveness. The bottom line? Make sure the PCB manufacturing company you choose can meet your needs.
In the end, choosing a printed circuit board prototyping company isn't as complicated as it might seem. In fact, if you need a reliable team that can give you great PCB prototypes in a hurry, why not call us today?