PCB Contract Manufacturing Assistance

For many 3rd party design houses, the customer's service ends with completing the PCB layout. The source and manufacturing files are returned to the customer to fabricate the board and the assembly of the components onto the board.

Nine Dot Connects sees this next step as being both critical and, at times, problematic.

There has been a tradition of throwing the manufacturing files over the proverbial wall in the hopes that the fabricator can do something with them. This was a common practice in the past, for most boards used a 'universal' PCB material known as FR4. However, the need for materials with qualities that are better suited for high-speed design and controlling the impedance requires a relationship with the fabricator at the beginning of the layout effort.

Some companies use contract manufacturers (CM) to assist in the fabrication and assembly. The CM is to be the single point of contact to handle the PCBs' fabrication and assembly. This saves the company from having a board manufactured the hassle of finding a fabricator and assembler and owning the process. Though there are a few companies still out there doing both fabrication and assembly, the fact of the matter is that most companies in the business of PCBs are either one or the other. As a side note, if one is thinking of sending their PCB offshore to have it fabricated and assembled to protect Intellectual Property (IP), it is best to have fabrication and assembly performed at non-related independent locations.

However, when technical questions arise, the CM becomes a relay point rather than a source. Furthermore, if the customer isn’t sure of what they want (or need), the conversation gets difficult for all involved.

Nine Dot Connects can still assist if you are making direct contact with the fabricators or assemblers or using a CM for these needs. In this capacity, we can:

  • Verify fabrication notes, standards call-out, etc.
  • Correct fabrication and assembly data files generated (OutJob)
  • Interface with PCB fabricator and/or CM to ensure the design will be manufacturable
  • Review, recommend, and establish the PCB stack up at the start of the PCB layout to create design rules for impedance and signal integrity issues.
  • Provide all appropriate files necessary to minimize delay in getting the fabrication started.
  • Provided rapid response to issues that may have arisen during the fabrication. In some cases, modifications to the source files are required and the generation of new manufacturing files.
  • Provide first article inspection to ensure that what was requested is what was produced.

If you are looking for assistance with the manufacturing side of the PCB process, Nine Dot Connects is here to "CM assist."

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