The Power of Designer and Manufacturer Collaboration

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Do you have a preferred PCB manufacturer? Do you have a contact in their engineering group? Do you have a contact in their quality department? What technologies could your PCB manufacturer introduce that would improve your products the most?

Whether you are beginning board layout, building the first run of a prototype, or you’re making a change to a mature product several years into its life span, there is no incorrect time to consult your PCB manufacturer. Circuit boards today are dense with features that push the limits of manufacturing technology, and as designers employ these technological advances it’s easy to venture off the well-documented path of standard manufacturing.

A PCB manufacturer can offer answers, advice, and a partnership to ensure your next generation electronic system is successful. We have integrated PCB designers and process engineers into our front-end engineering team and established a dedicated product realization team to ensure that complex problems are approached head-on and in direct communication with designers and supply chain managers.

A robust PCB manufacturer can serve as a consultant. If you are looking to try something new, push the limits of feature density, incorporate embedded passive components, stick to a tight schedule, or reduce materials or manufacturing costs, it is in their best interest to deliver you the best product they can. This is especially true as you grow your arsenal of technologies. While it could be your first foray into sequential lamination, your manufacturer has most likely been building a variety of sequential lamination boards for some time. Communicating directly with your manufacturer early in the process allows them to help you identify design pitfalls and manufacturing difficulties before they cause delays and before a new design is released.

PCB front-end engineering talent is in short supply on a national scale and all new board designs pass through an extensive DFM process, therefore it is important to find a PCB manufacturer with an advanced front-end engineering team. One should avoid shops that offshore their front-end engineering to other countries in favor of shops that have in-house expertise.

By maintaining a partnership with your PCB manufacturer, the handoff will be as seamless as it would be to a member of your own team. Just like the recipe for a good team, a partnership with a PCB manufacturer requires both parties to have technical knowledge, open communication, and an understanding of your design goals. It also requires mutual trust. Design advice from a qualified manufacturer should drive the design to higher reliability and lower cost.  

This partnership relies on you letting your manufacturer know where you are and where you plan to go in the future. Helping your manufacturer to grow with you and build the technologies you want to implement creates a robust supply chain. Even if you are a smaller designer and you aren’t anticipating being influential in the future of your manufacturer, communicating your goals will result in higher quality products. These partnerships aren’t built overnight, but they have the potential to drive technology and innovation, while reducing cost, reducing waste, and building more reliable products in the future.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the September 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.


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