Form, Fit, Function: Providing the Best Components for Prototype and Production PCBAs

Circuit Board Components Precisely Engineered for Form, Fit, and Function

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Installing the correct components on your circuit board is the foundation of its ultimate performance and success. PCB contract manufacturers are very careful to source and use the parts you have specified in your design. However, there are times when the components you’ve selected are not available for assembly, and the manufacturer must use alternative parts instead. In these cases, the replacement components must match the original parts in form, fit, and function.

At VSE, we understand the importance of delivering a wholly assembled circuit board back to you that functions according to your original design intentions. When a component replacement is required, we have numerous resources to utilize to match your original part’s form, fit, and function. Here is more information on how we chose your printed circuit board assembly’s best components.

Choosing the Right Components for a PCB Prototype

The first step in manufacturing a new printed circuit board design is usually the prototype build. Often these boards are designed and built according to a tight development schedule and will reuse familiar circuitry and components from previous designs to save time and money. If the parts are too expensive or not available, this can lead to problems later on when the board moves into long-term production. VSE is well acquainted with the component needs of prototype designs moving into production and will help with the following:

BOM Review:

VSE will examine your design’s bill of materials for:

  • Best prices
  • Part availability
  • Component life-cycle and long-term viability

Component Change Recommendations:

VSE will recommend component changes for the following:

  • Reduce part costs
  • Speed production
  • Improve functionality

Circuitry Change Recommendations:

VSE will also recommend design alterations in these circumstances:

  • Unavailable components
  • Improve functionality
  • Streamline manufacturing and test

The goal in prototype circuit board development is to use parts that will easily transition to long-term production. At VSE, our engineers have years of experience helping customers find long-term production components that are a good form, fit, and function replacement for the original prototype parts. To do this, we will work together with you to create an approved vendor list (AVL) that is procurable and uses component suppliers that meet your standards. This process will give us the best opportunity to procure the parts and materials needed to keep your prototype build on track and lower your costs.

Component Replacements on Production Circuit Boards

Another important use of our component engineers is finding replacement parts for circuit boards in long-term production. In some cases, legacy designs will be in production for many years, and the components they use can change for the following reasons:

  • A component that has been in use for several years is now unavailable because it has been declared obsolete by the manufacturer and is no longer in production.
  • Other electronics manufacturers have bought up all of the part’s current stock, and it will take too long for the manufacturer to re-supply.
  • Prices on a specific part have escalated, making the board too expensive to build.
  • Other circumstances, such as national emergencies, have affected the supply chain for specific parts.

Although redesigning the board with different circuitry is an option, it can be expensive and time-consuming. In many cases, a redesigned circuit board will also have to be re-qualified and re-certified for use, adding additional time and expense to the project. Here is where the component engineers at VSE can help by finding the perfect form, fit, and function replacement part to keep the production of legacy designs moving forward.

Form, Fit, and Function in PCB Components

As we have seen, finding a form, fit, and function replacement component is an integral part of the development of prototype circuit boards and their eventual long-term production. The part must have the same package outline and fit in the same component holes or solder to the same surface mount land patterns as the original. It must also perform precisely the same as the original part to qualify as a form, fit, and functionally equivalent part.

In some cases, however, an exact match isn’t available. Here is where the VSE engineers will go to work on the design and come up with the best solution. It may be that the form and fit are slightly different, which will require a redesign of the circuit board. Sometimes, a “better than” part is used, such as replacing a 5% resistor with a 2% version of the same part. The form, fit, and function of the part will be the same, but the resistor will have more precision. Whichever solution is required, we can assure you will have the best manufacturing engineering team available working for you with VSE.

Experienced and Knowledgeable Component Engineering at VSE

At VSE, we have over 30 years of experience building circuit boards, and we are proud to provide the following services for our customers:

  • Component engineers with expertise in all types and variations of parts
  • Design engineers who understand the circuitry requirements of your projects
  • Procurement teams with experience working within the component supply chain
  • Highly skilled manufacturing technicians and engineers who build high-quality circuit boards

We have a long history of building circuit boards at VSE, and our engineering and component teams understand the challenges involved in getting the right parts to do the job. Let us know about your next printed circuit board design, and we can apply our component expertise to help you complete your project on time, at the best price, and the highest level of quality.

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