Early on in the printed circuit board (PCB) industry, purchase orders were faxed, confirmed with a phone call, and lead time was open for discussion. Pricing was agreed upon at a lunch date by a sales associate or a long time agreement to buy the boards forever.
Hot Air Solder Leveling (HASL) has always been the main staple of PCB surface finishes. In the late 80s, 60/40 tin-lead reflow started to phase out of processes and was replaced with Hot Air Solder Leveling. HASL, the longtime reliable surface finish is still used today in military, aerospace, medical, and other applications.
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.
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.
As many of you know, Epec Engineered Technologies was one of the founding members of the Institute of Printed Circuits (IPC) and is one of the oldest printed circuit board companies in the U.S. and have been making them since 1952. While visiting a customer I was asked, “Has the introduction of the new products custom battery packs and energy efficient EC fans taken your focus and attention off of PCBs?” While I assured the customer that we are fully dedicated to printed circuit boards and outlined all of the reasons why. It occurred to me that as a company, we haven’t done the best job of demonstrating that to our customers.