How to Maximize PCB Production Efficiency Without Sacrificing Quality

May 15, 2019 , in Blog

Proportionality is one of the most important concepts in mathematics. The ability to define one thing with respect to another is foundational to all levels of numerical analysis. A great example of this is illustrated by the two-dimensional right triangle where the lengths of two perpendicular sides are defined with respect to each other by the well-known Pythagorean Theorem. Defining the interior angle opposite to side b as theta, 𝚹, followed by some brief trigonometric manipulation, leads to the ratio or proportionality of side b to side a. For a fixed triangle, sides b and a are inversely proportional, denoted mathematically by “1/∝.” This is a common relationship where increasing one parameter necessitates a decrease in the other.

Illustration of the Pythagorean theorem: Right triangle

Two of the most used attributes to describe manufacturing processes, including electronics devices and systems, are quality and efficiency. Although both are important, they are generally thought to be inversely proportional to each other and a number of manufacturing strategies, such as agile manufacturing, focus on simultaneously optimizing speed and quality. For PCB production, maximizing quality and efficiency is easier as they are not indirectly proportional to each other. To better understand this, let’s define PCB production quality and efficiency. Then, we can explore how to maximize these attributes.

PCB Production Quality and Efficiency

When considering PCB production explicitness is necessary, as there are low volume and high volume production. Low volume production is usually associated with PCB prototype development; however, for specialized development such as for critical systems like aerospace, biomedical devices, electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous cars, it may refer to a limited number of total boards produced. High volume production refers to large numbers of boards created that are intended for market or client delivery. For projects where the final goal is high volume production, these two volume levels have different objectives and assessment criteria, as shown below.

Low Volume PCB Production

  • Definition

Low volume PCB production refers to the building of a limited number of boards either for limited production or such that further development may be done. This development is typically for prototyping and is an iterative process that includes design, manufacturing, and testing.

  • Objectives

When low volume production is for prototyping, the objectives are to manufacture boards that accurately reflect the design such that through repetitive testing and redesign, the quality of the product can be optimized. This includes aiding in the identification and correction of design flaws.

  • Assessment Criterion

The success of the PCB development process is measured by the level of design quality obtained within the primary constraint of meeting the delivery deadline. Therefore, the production process should be fast enough to allow the number of iterations necessary to attain the highest design quality to be performed, while ensuring that the final board quality is ready for high volume production.

High Volume PCB Production

  • Definition

High volume PCB production is the final manufacturing stage of boards prior to delivery to clients or customers. Manufacturing at this stage is a linear process and no design changes should be required.

  • Objectives

The objective of high volume production is to produce the requisite number of PCBs at the lowest cost and with the highest yield rate, which is the percentage or ratio of usable boards to the total number produced.

  • Assessment Criterion

For high volume production, the process is measured based on the ability to create the most boards at the lowest cost or efficiency.

How to Maximize PCB Production

In order to deliver the best product to your client or customer, both low volume and high volume PCB production should be optimized. However, your high volume production is dependent to a significant degree on the low volume process. If your yield rate is low, this indicates equipment issues, or more likely, that your development did not achieve the necessary quality level. Thus, the best way to maximize high volume PCB production efficiency is to maximize the quality of low volume PCB production.

Maximizing Low Volume PCB Production Quality

The quality of the production of your boards at low volume or during development is directly proportional to the capabilities and services provided by your contract manufacturer (CM). Therefore, you can maximize low volume PCB production by doing the following:

The quality of the process depends on you selecting a CM with the equipment and expertise to meet your design requirements.

Failing to utilize specifications that are in-line with your CM’s equipment capabilities will result in turnaround time delays, redesign, and additional development costs.

A component shortage is one of the most likely reasons for disrupted or stalled production; therefore, you should ensure the availability of acceptable components for your projected production level.

The best thing you can do to aid in the manufacturing of your boards is follow DFM rules and guidelines that are specific to your CM.

All regulatory testing should be done on your boards. However, beyond this, it may be necessary or advisable to perform additional tests; for example, to verify structural integrity.

Tempo‘s Custom PCB Manufacturing Service
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600 and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Accurate quote in less than 1 day.
  • Performs entire turnkey process in as fast as 3 days.
  • Emphasizes DFM to eliminate time-consuming back-and-forth design corrections.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry to reduce procurement time.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during assembly to ensure PCB quality for prototyping.
  • Provides support throughout the PCB manufacturing process, beginning with design.
  • Smooth transition from prototyping to production.

Delivering the best boards to your client or customer requires that you maximize PCB production efficiency and quality. This can only be accomplished by optimizing both low volume and high volume PCB production.

Tempo Automation, the industry leader for fast, high-quality prototype and low volume production, will work with you to ensure that your development meets the highest quality standards. 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 user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on PCB production or how to impact the efficiency and quality of your board’s manufacturing, contact us.

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