You may have an understanding of the assembly processing in the manufacturing of printed circuit boards. However, you might not know that fabricating bare PCBs and printed circuit board assembly are two different processes. Each requires a unique set of equipment and techniques. The fabrication of a printed circuit board is the end of manufacturing, while printed circuit board assembly involves installing components onto the printed circuit board.

Our PCB design services always include design for manufacturability to ensure that the PCB fabrication process runs smoothly. What about the PCB assembly process? What are the steps to take to ensure a cost-effective, high-quality result? These tips result from our many years of PCB design experience and manufacturing experience.

  1. Not last, but first, talk to your PCB assembler.

    While you were planning your PCB design, you probably used a variety of resources. As we encourage you to consult your PCB manufacturer regarding the design of your board, you should also consider your assembler. They can provide valuable advice throughout the manufacturing process. How? You will be given suggestions for effective board design and educated on new or improved production techniques.

A man looking at a board filled with planning PCB design

  1. Consider the cost of PCB assembly off-shoring.

    The low-cost overseas assembly might sound appealing, but it is essential to consider potential risk factors such as imitation or substandard parts. An assembler might be tempted by the low cost of using components that are not up to standard or American industry standards. This could result in board failures or malfunctions, which would offset the initial cost savings. An off-shore supply chain may also experience disruptions. Shipping problems from overseas suppliers can cause delays in product launches.

  2. One point of failure can be a sole supplier.

    You may have problems if your PCBs contain a part that is only available from one supplier. Make wise choices.

  3. Labels should be consistent and clear.

    You've double-checked the markings in your design documents. But what about markings on the parts you include with your design? Different manufacturers may mark their parts differently.

  4. Talking about parts and labels.

    Include a package of parts in your design package. Make sure that all parts are correctly numbered and labeled. Make them clear and easy to read. (e.g. ("Is it an o, or a zero?")

  5. To get the best results, use all of the tools at the beginning.

    What does this mean? Our PCB designers have trained with manufacturing experts to ensure your assembly process goes smoothly. Your assembler might have tools to help you with schematic creation, initial design, and DFM reviews.

  6. DFM reviews are another topic.

    Before you send off your designs, do a DFM review. Our PCB designers incorporate this into every design. Get expert advice from your PCB manufacturer and their technical and industry knowledge. This can help you save time and money.

a graphic showing pcb design for manufacturability

  1. Discuss any trade-offs.

    As we have mentioned, technological advancements are occurring rapidly, which means that electronics and PCBs are under increasing pressure. There is also a constant push to squeeze more features onto smaller boards. These two things may not always be compatible. So, before you begin designing your boards, rank your desired capabilities. Are you looking for a higher power output? Stronger signal transmission? It would be best to decide what you must have and what may be worth reconsidering. Don't feel that you need to cut back or eliminate everything. Your PCB manufacturer might be able to show you how to improve your design so that it meets the desired outputs for your board.

  2. Both the design phase and the assembly phase should be considered.

    Based on previous projects, you and your manufacturer will probably be able to estimate your average time to design and assemble. However, if you develop a new type of board than your usual design, it may take more time to design and build. This should be included in your time estimates.

  3. Formats

    You should ensure that the manufacturer you choose has experience with the file format you intend to submit.

That's it! These were ten tips to ensure your PCB manufacturing and assembly is a success.