With the introduction of ISO 9001:2015, which specifies requirements for quality management systems, the statement “quality management system documentation shall include a quality manual” no longer need apply. Many celebrated this as a reprieve from previously having to fully document their quality management system. However, eliminating the supplier quality manual altogether could be a dangerous takeaway on the new standard’s intention.
In front-end engineering, we must gather as much manufacturing information as possible from the printed circuit board data we receive. This includes customer service notes, customer emails, and the general spec, if available. Usually there is enough information to release a printed circuit board (PCB) package to manufacturing. However, I have found many gray areas that haunt our engineering department.
As today’s printed circuit boards (PCBs) become smaller, they use fewer and fewer through hole components. It is increasingly difficult to justify allocating precious space for relatively large plated through component holes and their accompanying lands. Instead, it is necessary to use surface mounted components wherever possible. As surface mount technology becomes increasingly prevalent, the majority of the plated through holes on most modern PCB designs end up being vias.
Among the most common questions printed circuit board suppliers receive are those dealing with production capabilities. Customers often suspect that they are about to design-in a feature which may be either at or outside their fabricator’s limits. Fearing that their non-standard feature may add cost to their product, they inquire to find out just how much pain they are about to cause.
When it comes to manufacturing custom electronics, there are tons of companies out there that can do anything once. The true value of a manufacturing partner is a company that not only has the capability to manufacture your product fast to help you get to market quicker and cost effectively, but also consistently. Effectively accounting for Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) and product changes are factors that often get overlooked in manufacturers. Failing to find a supplier with stable speeds, costs, and a consistent process can cause major headaches down the line.
There are a lot of good things happening right now for many folks in the electronics manufacturing industry in the United States. The economy is going strong, unemployment rates are dropping, and there has been growth in the PCB industry over the past four months which hasn’t happened since May of 2016 according to the U.S. Purchasing Managers’ Index.
Over the past several years LED based products have become increasingly popular, and as a result, so too have metal core printed circuit boards. The automobile and lighting sectors have both embraced the technology, as have consumers, given an LED based light can be about 5x cheaper to run than a comparable incandescent unit. Even compact fluorescents have slightly higher operating costs and they cannot compete with the smallest LEDs when it comes to efficient use of space.
Printed circuit board (PCB) fabricators receive dozens of requests for quotations (RFQs) every day. While many requests have moved to more convenient online quoting formats such as our in-house application InstantPCBQuote, many customers still send requests the old way via either files or alternate forms of describing their manufacturing requirements.
Selecting PCB core thickness becomes a problem when a printed circuit board (PCB) fabricator receives a request for quotation of a multilayer design and the material requirements are stated either incompletely or not at all. This sometimes occurs because the combination of PCB core materials used is not critical to performance; if the overall thickness requirement is met, the end user may not care about the thickness or type of each layer.