Does it seem at times that everyone is preparing to audition for the sequel to Top Gun? An often-quoted line from the film, “I feel the need…the need for speed,” apparently is contagious. Of course, speed can provide an advantage. For example, delivering faster than your competition can certainly aid developers and OEMs in garnering more market share and increasing their bottom line.
Speed is also an asset to PCBA development, which explains why pre-built modules are sometimes chosen over a custom new design. However, the desire to build boards fast does not mean that quality has to be relegated to a secondary objective. A CM with a quick turnaround PCB assembly process focused on quality not only increases your development efficiency but optimizes your cost-effectiveness.
Challenges to a Fast Board Turnaround Time
Although the process of constructing circuit boards is well-defined, the almost unavoidable need to make custom adjustments for each job can be seen as an impediment to reducing the time required to spin a board. And since almost all manufacturers either fabricate PCBs or assemble PCBAs—and the ones that do both typically operate out of different facilities and business groups—logistical challenges can easily emerge. For example, fabrication and assembly facilities may be located far away from each other, including in different countries.
Another significant factor in turnaround time for PCBA manufacturing is component procurement. Necessary components are sometimes unavailable due to shortages, normal component lifecycle obsolescence or even manufacturing or travel restrictions. The latter of these can severely disrupt your supply chain, as we have recently experienced.
Not surprisingly, design choices can impede speed-optimized PCBA manufacturing. Designs where non-standard fabrication technology or additional assembly procedures are necessary may require dramatically increased manufacturing time. These designs can also increase costs due to waste—like respins to replace unusable boards due to the selection of DFM specifications that are at or near your CM’s equipment tolerance limits.
Such challenges can significantly extend the time for board manufacturing. And, when prototyping, the need for more than the typical 3-5 DBT cycles to achieve desired quality only adds to an extended turnaround time. Finally, requests for uncommon testing from your CM can also limit the prospects for a quick turnaround PCB assembly process. Fortunately, some actions and choices can mitigate these challenges in most cases.
No Compromise Quick Turnaround PCB Assembly
With the number of issues that can slow or extend the turnaround time for your PCB assembly, it may seem that sacrificing board quality is necessary if speed is a premium consideration. Yet, the opposite is true. Speed and quality are not inversely proportional but directly relational. By optimizing the quality of the design, which includes making the best DFM and DFA selections, the risk of a failure mode and the time to spin your board both decrease. A fast board spin time allows you to cycle through the DBT iterations faster. Therefore, you can achieve the highest quality production-ready board build sooner and minimize the turnaround time for your PCBA development. In addition to design quality, following the guidelines below will aid you in achieving quick turnaround PCB assembly.
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How to Achieve Quick Turnaround PCB Assembly
- Work with CM that provides a turnkey PCBA manufacturing service.
- Opt for local PCBA manufacturing[link to “4 Benefits of Local Manufacturing in PCB Prototyping”.
- Verify the availability of components before adding to your design.
- Design for simplicity as complexity tends to extend manufacturing process step time.
- Avoid unnecessary requirements.
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Achieving the right balance between speed and quality is not about sacrificing one in order to improve the other. Instead, prioritizing quality during design leads to faster PCBA turnaround time. Exercising this principle enables Tempo Automation to lead the industry in fast, high-quality PCBA prototyping and low-volume manufacturing.
And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files.If you would like more information on how to achieve quick turnaround PCB assembly for your design, contact us.