If you are developing any product at all, there is a good chance you need to choose a prototype printed circuit boards manufacturer. Over the last three decades, prototype printed circuit boards have become a integral piece in almost any piece of new technology. The problem is, not all prototype printed circuit boards are created equal. Since your prototype circuit board is really the brains of your entire product, you can’t afford to take a chance on a manufacturer of prototype printed circuit boards.
To help you avoid common pitfalls, we’ve put together a list of mistakes you don’t want to make.
Four Common Mistakes People Make While Choosing a PCB Manufacturer
- MISTAKE: Choosing Cost Over Quality
When you’re a small startup, it can feel like every penny you spend makes it a little harder to stay afloat. You might be inclined to choose a PCB manufacturer who is willing to produce your prototype circuit boards for as little as possible. However, it’s going to be really difficult to stay afloat if your product doesn’t work because the cheap circuit boards in them are worth no more than what you paid for them. In fact, this is an issue you really can’t afford to get wrong. If your product develops a reputation for being problematic because you used cut-rate circuit boards.
If a PCB manufacturer is charging you less than their competitors for their circuit board printing services, there’s a reason for it. They wouldn’t stay in business long if they were losing money. They are most likely using cheap components in their product, which will come back to haunt you down the road.
- MISTAKE: Not Paying Attention to Experience
Sometimes a new PCB manufacturer will offer a deal you can’t refuse in order to get your business. No matter how enticing this is, resist. Anyone can call themselves a PCB manufacturer, but they can’t fake time in the field. When a company has been in business since the rise of circuit boards, keeping their clients happy, it’s a sign that they’ll probably provide good service to you as well. Choosing a PCB manufacturer isn’t something you want to do through trial and error. Choosing a PCB manufacturer who has been around a while is a good way to ensure you’re getting a quality prototype circuit board.
We’ll throw this in for free: While hunting for a PCB provider, pay close attention to the longevity of the staff who actually make the circuit boards. Ask the average time an employee works for the company. It is almost true in all industries that satisfied employees do better work. If your PCB manufacturer keeps their employees happy, there’s a good chance they run an efficient operation in general. This means better quality products, lower costs, and shorter turn around times to you.
- MISTAKE: Trying to Piecemeal Your Suppliers Together Instead of Looking for a One-Stop-Shop
Sometimes, you can source your own materials and save a little bit of money. Sometimes, you might have no choice but to look for a few of your own suppliers because the manufacturer you use doesn’t do it for you. However, whenever possible, look for a PCB supplier who provides the whole supply chain management on your behalf.
If you try to manage it yourself, it can quickly turn into a logistical nightmare. If a single supply gets held up or turns up faulty, it throws your whole product into circuit board purgatory. Not to mention, since PCB manufacturers live and breath circuit board components, they’re the best equipped to understand the best supplies for your particular needs, and will likely have relationships with component manufacturers that could result in discounts for you!
- MISTAKE: Assuming You Have to Look Overseas for a PCB Supplier.
There are a lot of PCB manufacturers available in other countries, and in general, the cost of manpower is lower overseas. However, don’t assume just because you’ll have to pay higher wages in the US that it’s not worth it. When you use an international PCB manufacturer, you have to deal with longer turn around times, additional shipping costs, and less on-the-ground involvement. Not to mention, your brand gets a little boost when it says “Made in the USA” on it!
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