Many years ago at one of my first jobs in the electronics industry, the company that I worked for decided that they would start building their own circuit boards. It was understandable; they had been enjoying great success and making a lot of money, and they felt that this was the next logical step. They installed the assembly equipment, hired the personnel, and were soon building boards. Not long after that, though, they realized that they had made a big mistake.
Although this company was at the top of their field in designing electronic systems, they didn’t have the expertise in building circuit boards. This was a costly mistake for them to make, and it shows just how important it is to have a knowledgeable manufacturer build printed circuit board assemblies. Let’s take a look at just what a third party contract manufacturing is, and what the advantages are to using them to build your PCBAs.
What is Printed Circuit Board Third Party Contract Manufacturing?
A third party manufacturer is the same as a contract manufacturer. The third party contract manufacturer is a company that specializes in building the products of other companies under the other company’s label or brand name. In the case of a PCB contract manufacturer, they will build printed circuit boards for electronic manufacturers based on designs submitted or approved by the company that has contracted with them to build the circuit boards.
In the world of PCB design and manufacturing, the third party contract manufacturer serves an important role. Electronics manufacturers usually have the engineering expertise to design the printed circuit boards, the technical skills to assemble their final products, and the sales and marketing team to sell them. What they don’t have though is the skill, experience, and facilities to manufacture the circuit boards. By using a PCB CM for this task, they can avoid the overhead of PCB manufacturing, allowing them to focus on their core competencies such as engineering and marketing of their products.
The 7 Advantages of Having Your PCBAs Built by a Contract Manufacturer
There are a number of reasons why using a PCB contract manufacturer is advantageous for an electronics manufacturer, here are the top seven:
Saves electronic manufacturers the difficulty of building their own PCBAs
- Building a circuit board is a complicated task, and by working with a PCB contract manufacturer you will avoid:
- The expense of operating and maintaining the capital equipment required for PCB assembly.
- Having to develop and continually update the processes and controls needed for the PCB assembly operation.
- Maintaining a staff of highly skilled engineers and technicians to operate and oversee the PCB manufacturing operations.
PCB contract manufacturers are experts in what they do
- Third party PCB CMs know their jobs. They have been doing this work for years, and they employ experts to achieve the best results:
- They understand what is required in order to build the best quality boards at the best price for their customers.
- Their staff is skilled and experienced at assembling multiple circuit board types and technologies.
- They have a lot of experience making sure that your design will be manufactured efficiently in order to get you the quality that you need.
A low-volume high-mix business model gives the PCB CM flexibility
Local PCB CMs often base their business model around a “low-volume, high-mix” production environment, which gives them the ability to respond rapidly to the needs of their customers. This is ideal for building prototypes, or ramping up production quickly on new medical devices to combat emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
An engineering staff dedicated to the quality of each board build
PCB contract manufacturers will usually have an in-house staff of engineers available to work with their customers on their designs. Not only do they focus on the manufacturability of each design, but they offer many other services as well. These range from schematic capture and PCB layout to mechanical design.
Component engineers with a vast network of part vendors and distributors
The component engineers of the PCB CM will review the bill of materials for each design, making sure that the parts specified are available and at the best price. They are trained to make alternate recommendations for those components that aren’t available, and will keep an eye on the supply chain for any change in the status of parts currently being used in ongoing board builds.
Fully trained and certified in current industry standards
To successfully build circuit boards for different market segments, PCB CMs will carry many industry certifications. They will also conduct periodic training and refresher courses for their staff to make sure that they are fluent in the latest industry standards for design and assembly.
Proven success record of manufacturing PCBAs
PCB contract manufacturers stay in business by providing the highest quality in the circuit boards that they build. They will have a list of company references and testimonials as to the work that they have done so you can personally verify their capabilities.
These are just the top seven reasons, but there are many more as well. For example, a PCB CM that also specializes in box builds, and cable assemblies and wire harnesses can add even more value by building your entire product under one roof. There are many PCB CMs that also are set up to handle the unique requirements of prototype builds. The best way to learn more about these advantages is to partner with a local PCBA CM to find out more.
How Your Local PCBA Contract Manufacturer can Help You
At VSE, we have been working on electronics manufacturing here in Silicon Valley and around the world for over 30 years. Our highly trained staff of assembly technicians, engineers, and component supply chain specialists have years of experience building all manner of circuit boards. Lately, we have been very pleased to help out during the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly responding to the needs of the medical community and ramping up production of virus and antibody detection devices. We take pride in this same level of commitment and service to all of our customers, and you can be confident of receiving the highest levels of quality in the work that we will do for you.