In 1999 there were over 1,200 active printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing facilities in the U.S. Today, there are fewer than 130. What has been taking place at a lot of these manufacturing companies are small service businesses that act as a liaison between a manufacturer and their customers. In many instances this is a valuable relationship, the products are low in technology and the risk is very minimal, the arrangement works. However, why is it that we require ISO certification for our manufacturing locations but not for service providers?
When requesting a quotation or when ordering printed circuit boards (PCB) it is important to state all of your requirements as clearly and completely as possible.
While this may seem obvious, it is surprisingly common for a PCB fabricator to submit a pricing estimate based on whatever information their customer supplies with the request for quotation, only to receive additional information after pricing and delivery have already been agreed upon and a purchase order issued. If the new information affects the price or lead time, the fabricator has no choice but to notify you of the change in terms.
Two years ago I wrote about why printed circuit board (PCB) shops in North America were continuing to close. In the last two weeks we have seen two more shops (Dynamic & Proto and ITO Industries) cease their manufacturing operations. As the former owner and operator of three domestic PCB facilities, I can sympathize with the management and the loyal employees that tried to make the company successful. However, much of the damage is self-inflicted as I previously discussed so rather than rehash past information I wanted to discuss some of the attributes that every customer should look for in a PCB supplier.
IPC 4101 (Specification for Base Materials for Rigid and Multi-Layer Printed Circuit Boards) was released for publication in December, 1997. It was released as the replacement standard for MIL-S-13949. However, it contained a majority of the exact wording from the military standard. It maintained the “slash sheet” format appendix to the standard that specifies the resin and fiber system of different PCB laminates, along with testing parameters and properties. Initially there were 41 slash sheets, but as the industry opens up to “Lead Free” and “Green” processes, the slash sheets have increased to 66, the current revision.
Shipping lithium batteries is very important that requires significant investment in training and equipment. In April of 2016, new regulations were passed that forbid lithium batteries from passenger aircraft and limited the SOC (state of charge) for any battery shipped via air cargo to 30%.
When it comes to manufacturing, time is of the essence. Worrying about your printed circuit board (PCB) order being on time should be the last thing on your mind but how do you make this happen?
You need to work with a high quality quick turn PCB services supplier. As the oldest existing printed circuit board supplier in the United States, we wanted to provide you with information so your PCBs won’t get delayed.
In 2016 there were ten printed circuit board (PCB) factories that closed in the United States including some highly sophisticated shops that were part of the TTM/Viasystems merger. Having been involved of the closing and transfer of part numbers for fifteen PCB facilities in the past twelve years, we have some advice as to how you can minimize the risk as you change suppliers.
As a contract manufacturer, say you receive a new circuit board part to assemble that is 6-layers with a high micro-via count, has blind and buried vias, and a lead free HASL finish. The circuit board laminate requirement is strictly Tg (Glass Transition Temperature) 170.
Bow and twist of printed circuit boards (PCB) tends to be the highest amount of falsely identified non conformances and the least understood. Perfectly flat rigid circuit boards as a norm, is a misconception held by many incoming inspectors. Understanding the reasons and causes for bow and twist can help resolve the issue at the board design stage.
When building a Lithium-Ion Battery pack there will always be some sort of protection circuitry necessary that will safely separate the cells from the external connections. The protection may be as simple as a pair of Charge and Discharge Field Effect Transistors (FET’s) with voltage and current detectors, or may be as complicated as adding firmware controlled fuel gauging and secondary protection.