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How to Choose Low Cost PCB Assembly Services?

 May 21, 2024

Low Cost PCB Assembly Services

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are found in most electronic devices we use, right from your handheld radio sets to smartphones to the control panel of your car and more. As the demand for dense PCBs is on the rise, finding low-cost PCB assembly services has become necessary for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). There are several PCB assembly services providers who promote themselves as low-cost or affordable; however, not all may serve your purpose or have the required expertise. This post offers expert tips to help you choose low-cost PCB assembly services without compromising quality.

Things to Look for When Selecting Low-Cost PCB Assembly Services

Selecting low-cost PCB assembly services seems an easy task. However, it requires several considerations and attention to detail. Here are some expert-recommended tips that will help you make the right decision. 

  • Understand the Project Requirements: A clear understanding of the project requirements is the first and most important step. The proper communication between the service provider and OEM ensures both are on the same page regarding project requirements, specifications, timelines, and so on. This saves time and unnecessary costs. Consider factors such as the complexity of the circuit boards, the production volumes (prototype, small batch, or mass production), the type of components to be assembled, specific assembly standards and certifications, and more. These factors will help you filter out assembly services that match your project’s needs. 
  • Research and Compare Different Services: Research different PCB assembly services thoroughly. Additionally, look for testimonials, reviews, case studies, and other important documents. You can also prefer specific industry groups and forums for unbiased information. Consider factors such as industry experience, capabilities, turnaround time, and pricing when comparing different services. 
  • Type of Service: If you have your design file and BOM, you can opt for partial turnkey or consignment services, depending on your preparedness. These are more affordable compared to full turnkey services. However, this depends on your technical understanding, level of preparedness, and more. This needs to be discussed in detail with the PCB assembler.
  • Evaluate Technical Capabilities: Here, you need to perform a comprehensive analysis of technical capabilities such as:  
    • Types of Layers: Singled-sided, double-sided, and multilayer PCBs
    • Materials They Work With: FR3, FR4, FR5, Composite materials or any other special materials 
    • Assembly options provided: Through-hole, surface mount, mixed technology, and single or double-sided placement. 
    • Component sizes accepted: Passive components, fine pitch parts, and ball grid arrays 
    • Parts procurement: Consigned, turnkey, and partial turnkey/combo 
    • Testing and inspecting capabilities: Manual testing, burn-in tests, functional testing, in-circuit testing, automated optical inspection, optimal inspection and flying prove test, x-ray inspection
  • Quality and Certifications: The PCB assembly services must adhere to industry standards and specifications such as ISO 9001, IPC-A-610, or other relevant standards. These certifications testify to the assembly service provider’s commitment to reliability, quality, and timely delivery. Additionally, they should also check if they conduct quality checks and testing throughout the assembly process to minimize defects and errors. 
  • Inquire About Value-Added Services: Most PCB assembly services offer some value-added services, including design assistance, testing, and more. Although these services may cost you additional money, they help streamline your production process and ensure the quality of the circuit boards and in turn the final product. Consider the overall value these services can provide when choosing a low-cost assembly service.
    • Prototyping 
    • Testing and Inspection 
    • Component Sourcing 
    • Box Build Assemblies 
    • Reverse Engineering 
  • Communication and Customer Service: Good communication plays a key role in completing any project. The PCB assembly service provider should be responsive and transparent about their processes, delivery times, costs, and more. They should work closely with you and respond if any issues occur during the assembly process. Quick and responsive custom service makes a lasting impression and helps fix issues on time, especially when unexpected challenges occur. 
  • Flexibility and Scalability: Ensure that the PCB assembly service is flexible and scalable to your needs. As your project is completed, your requirements might change, or you may need to scale up production quickly. The service provider must accommodate these changes with minimal delays or without much additional cost.

The pointers above may help you make an informed decision that meets your needs without compromising the essentials. The cheapest options aren’t always the best and may not work well in the long run. Therefore, maintain the right balance between cost, quality, and reliability. If you still have any doubts or queries, it is always best to consult an experienced industry player in this segment. Accelerated Assemblies stands out from its other competitors. The company specializes in offering high-quality and custom PCB assembly services at competitive prices without compromising quality. Get in touch with their experts for more information on PCB assembly services.

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