Value added services are a defining feature for circuit manufacturers. This series will explore how to ensure your partner delivers value in circuit design, fabrication and assembly.
Circuit design, fabrication and assembly are offered as value added services by many circuit and contract manufacturers. These services aim to deliver a cost-effective and less-stressful experience for the customer, because all activities can be managed through one supplier.
But for many customers, finding true value isn’t just about services. It’s about a supplier’s expertise and the skills they add to a project.
In part two of this series on value added services, we’re going to talk about circuit fabrication and how to ensure a manufacturer delivers value to your company.
Circuit manufacturers: Commodity or much more?
While it seems to many that any circuit manufacturer can produce any circuit. It is not the case! The common view of circuit fabrication companies is that they produce a commodity that can be chosen simply by the lowest cost. Many OEMs and contract manufacturers choose their suppliers this way. And many OEMs and contract manufacturers have been disappointed by their choice at one time or another.
The fact is that some fabricators are good at certain type of circuits and not good at others. For instance, a manufacturer whose focus is consumer type 1 or 2 layer boards may not be the best choice for a multi-layer, impedance controlled design. And conversely, a manufacturer whose core business is multi-layer, micro trace/space and via constructions would not be the best choice for a disposable, one and done, circuit design.
However strong the urge to choose a circuit manufacturer based solely on price, it is strongly suggested that you delve a little farther into their core competency and experience to assure that your boards are done correctly the first time.
How to determine if your manufacturer adds value in circuit fabrication
When your contract manufacturer or design partner suggests that they can source your circuit board for you, it is wise to do due diligence to be sure that the manufacturer they use has expertise in the type of application your product is designed for.
It is fair to ask who that manufacturer is and to call and interview them to see if they understand the design as well as you do. You’ve done a lot of research to choose your design or assembly partner and it makes very good sense to do the same with their suggested circuit manufacturer.
Whether your application requires a simple printed circuit board (PCB) or a complicated PCB or flexible circuit, your discussion with the manufacturer can confirm their experience in that type of design. Or lack thereof. Either way it is worth the time and effort up front to avoid problems when the board is received, assembled and testing begins. We all know that finding out too late is costly both in time and money!
Finding out later that the manufacturer doesn’t have the proper experience to handle your project will negate the value in your partner’s “Value Added Services”
If your design partner or contract manufacturer offers circuit fabrication services, meet with them to determine the level of value and convenience this service provides your company. An experienced partner can be a valuable addition to your supply chain.