Once you’re finished with the design phase of your project, you’re likely eager to get it into production. Whether your build requirements are low, mid, or high-volume, going back-and-forth with an electronic assembly vendor for a quote can cost you valuable time.
For nearly 30 years, Intellicon has been meeting these needs for customers just like you. In an effort to help you streamline your request for quote for printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, we offer the following 7 tips:
1. Determine whether your project is consignment or turn-key
A consignment project is generally accepted when you (the customer) supplies all the parts and “consign” them to your assembler in a complete kit.
A “turn-key” project happens when your assembler handles the procurement, kitting, and assembly of your components before returning a fully assembled product to you. All you provide is the necessary documentation.
2. Consolidate your board files
Files known as “Gerber files” within the industry are required for the bare PCB fabricator to manufacture your board. These files contain the layer information, outline, SMT/pick-n-place, and other CAD file outputs required to fabricate your printed circuit board.
Some things to consider at this level would be: snap-off rails for conveyor clearance, penalization, or individual printed circuit boards.
Important details can also be placed in what is called a “FAB” or fabrication file that contains: printed circuit board thickness, copper weight, routing, and other necessary information for your particular printed circuit board.
3. Don’t forget your surface-mount (SMT) position file
This file (which is also generated by your CAD program) contains all the locations of the SMT components on the printed circuit board, detailing the XY coordinate positions, rotation, and polarity of the components required.
4. Prepare your Bill of Material (BOM)
The “BOM” or Bill of Material is a list of parts with manufacturer part numbers and reference designators for each component on your board. This important document is used by the purchaser to order parts. Assemblers may also refer to the BOM for reference designators, linking each part directly to your printed circuit board.
5. Review your soldering requirements
Intellicon uses lead-free solder for assembly. SAC305 for SMT and SN100 for through hole wave soldering. Depending on your application, you may require leaded 63/37 solder. Today, lead-free is widely used in commercial and industrial applications.
6. Understand any cleaning limitations
Intellicon utilizes water-soluble flux for both reflow and wave soldering. We employ an aqueous washer to remove any flux and debris to ensure the cleanliness of your printed circuit board.
Knowing which components can and cannot be washed is very important. Parts like sensors, relays, piezos and many others can be prone to water intrusion. It is best to refer to each specific parts’ data sheet and advise your vendor of any parts that should not be exposed to the washing process.
7. Communicate your special assembly needs
By now you may have built a working prototype of your board. Often, there are intricacies that haven’t quite been translated into the fabrication files, but are best identified prior to mass printed circuit board assembly, which can include: bottom mounted parts, special connectors, wires, labels, and serialization.
For this reason, Intellicon will always ask for a working prototype to review prior to providing a final bid on your request for quote. We happen to believe surprises belong outside of the manufacturing floor!
We know taking your first printed circuit board to production can feel a little daunting, but the right assembly partner can help ease any fears and ensure a successful production run well into the future.
If you need help with assembly, we offer free, no-obligation quotes.
If you’re interested in learning more about the products and services we offer, be sure to check out our blog.