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Choosing the Right Flexible Circuit Supplier – Five Critical Considerations

Choosing the Right Flexible Circuit Supplier – Five Critical Considerations

If you are currently shopping for a flexible circuit supplier to build your circuit board, but are not too experienced in this arena, please take the time the time to read the following information.  The choice you are about to make is too important.  One of the biggest mistakes people often make is going with the lowest bidder, although easy on the wallet, you may be exposing yourself to a whole lot of aggravation and frustration.  When you are interviewing perspective flexible circuit supplier it is important to keep the following points in mind;

  • Capabilities (applications, designs, volume, engineering, and fabrication)
  • Assembly
  • Certifications
  • Quality Systems

Capabilities

Can they meet your needs?  Do they have the right equipment and the required knowledge?  After you have explained what your needs are can they tell you how they will meet the mechanical needs, which chemicals they will use, what type of thermals will be used, how the electrical aspects will work, how big it will be, and how the surface will be finished?  If not, then you should probably move on to the next applicant.

Will they be able to meet your supply needs while building it the exact way you need them to?

Do they have the capability to meet your fabrication requirements on a routine basis?  The fabrication process is quite detailed, will they be able to meet every detail you need every time you need it?

Assembly

Can the perspective supplier provide the necessary components?  If so this can save time by eliminating the process of shipping it to another facility to have them added.  But, you should ask them if they have the appropriate equipment, know how?  If they are not capable of performing the component assembly, it just may be worth the extra time to send it to someone who knows what to do and how to do it correctly the first time around.

Certifications

Find out what type of certifications they currently have.  Certifications are an important aspect because they show the suppliers dedication, experience, as well as knowledge of the industry.  This may be a deal breaker for you.  Why should you trust a supplier that does not hold any certifications in their expertise?

Quality Systems

When a supplier has taken the time to demonstrate their expertise through certification they are also providing proof of their standards.  This is because they will routinely go through an auditing process to keep their certification current.  The certifying agency performs the audit, ensuring that the required standards and quality systems are in place and more importantly being used.

Although you may not be an expert in the Circuit Board Industry, it does not mean you can’t arm yourself with the important questions that should be easily answered by the prospective supplier.  You have worked too long and hard to just hand your project over to a supplier who can’t meet your needs.  Perform due diligence now, avoid problems later.

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PCB Suppliers Working With Industry

The Role of PCBs in Today’s Electronic Environment

In today’s electronic environment, PCBs are everywhere. Daily, we work with items that include circuit boards in almost every electronic device. Think of the following situations where many people are likely to encounter PCBs on a regular (and probably daily) basis:

  • Motor vehicles;
  • Cell phones;
  • Tablets and computers;
  • Household appliances;
  • Office equipment;
  • GPS navigation systems;
  • Home exercise equipment;
  • automatic

PCBs are everywhere in the corporate world and industry as well, in situations such as automatic lighting and heating systems, medical equipment, hearing aids, home health monitors, home handyman tools such as snow blowers, manufacturing plants, trains, and planes… the list doesn’t stop! The US market for PCBs and component manufacture was estimated to be $44 Billion in 2014.

Bearing this in mind, the world of technology is changing more rapidly than most people ever imagined. As a result, technology is moving in new directions that had not been contemplated just a few years ago. There are implications for people, for industry, and for the providers of technology components.

If you take your mind back a few years, technically adept owners of home computers could open the lid and repair, upgrade, or possibly even build systems. More recently, manufacturers have put protocols in place that mean such actions risk of canceling factory warranties. Because of this, businesses that operate as small to medium electronic manufacturing and repair services have the opportunity to expand in two areas – licensed electronics and licensed computer repairs.

Tier I electronic manufacturers provide services to original equipment manufacturers. Tier II manufacturers provide services to Tier I organizations. Companies in both tiers are now looking for supply chain partners. A key area of the supply chain is having reliable circuit board suppliers. Suppliers of PCBs are being asked to develop processes that provide instant access and rapid shipping to customers anywhere around the country, and beyond.

Ideally, circuit board suppliers will have a team who are knowledgeable and informed. Companies with good staff can help their customers make informed decisions about PCB design requirements. They can also guide the policy and practice of PCB supply. They should be able to provide standard hard-board designs and flexible PCBs. Companies operating in this space will also need to be able to provide a range of service options for customers, including delivery of some or all parts of the design process. They should be able to provide quotes quickly and with sufficient detail for their clients to be able to easily understand the available choices.

The success of these companies can be directly linked to the identification of suppliers of the best products and components. With a poor supply of products, there is always a risk of a failure of a PCB. Such failures can be associated with two common causes: issues that weren’t identified in the design stage of the PCB production; or performance issues that are related to environmental stresses in the operating location of the PCB such as cold, humidity, heat, or dust.

The real goal of PCB suppliers is to ensure that customer can create their products without concern for the logistics and processes of ensuring the availability and quality of the PCBs. Tier I and II manufacturers may now have the capability of checking the quality integrity of all suppliers, especially if they operate offshore. However, a supply chain distributor can provide such checks. Larger suppliers can create a delivery and inventory system that helps ensure that end customers avoid the headaches of international shipment logistics. Through the use of a distributor of this nature, good PCB suppliers can ensure customers have a focus on what they do well – delivery of service in their sector of the technology market.