PCB prototyping is an essential part of the flexible printed circuit board production process. It can be done for two production processes – domestic and offshore. Designing the PCB for a single production process is relatively simple. However, with globalization and company diversification, products can also be manufactured by an offshore supplier. So, what happens when the rigid-flex PCB design needs to be transitioned from a domestic to an offshore manufacturing process? This can be a challenge for any rigid-flex circuit manufacturer.
The Problem with PCB Design Transition
When creating prototypes domestically, the greatest problem faced would be the tight delivery schedule. However, when PCB design specs and prototypes are sent to an offshore manufacturer, he will have many questions. These can include ‘Can we change one material for another?’ or ‘Can we alter the size of the pads or holes?’
Answering these questions can require time and effort, which may reduce the overall manufacturing and delivery time. If the production process is rushed, it can lead to the creation of a product lacking quality.
Reducing the Transitioning Problems
The issues mentioned above are common with PCB transitioning. While they may not be eliminated, they can be reduced. To accomplish this, a few important aspects should be concentrated on:
- Select the Right Supplier: Look at options when looking for a supplier. You can try a manufacturer who owns domestic as well as offshore facilities. You can also consider a domestic manufacturer who regularly partners with offshore facilities. This can lead to less hurdles and quicker production.
- Pre-manufacturing Steps: If you decide to work with a manufacturer who has both local and offshore facilities, then communication is key in the transitioning process. A few solutions can be considered here:
- Once the manufacturing materials and specifications have been decided, the information can be sent to the offshore facility beforehand. If the engineers have any questions, they can be resolved before the manufacturing process takes place.
- You can also assign a fabricator to understand the capabilities and preferences of both facilities. Then he can create a report with recommendations in terms of materials, panels, and how to meet production volume.
- Let the Manufacturers Create a Line of Communication: The domestic and offshore manufacturer can provide each other with information on their respective capabilities, operations, material preferences, etc. This can allow both manufacturers to work together, purchase the right equipment and materials needed to finish the production on time.
- Purchase Required Tools: Another option is that the offshore manufacturers can purchase the equipment and materials from the domestic manufacturers to meet the rigid flex circuit boards prototyping requirements. This allows the offshore supplier to meet the full volume requirement, while reducing the time needed for knowledge transfer and training.
These are a few options that can be used when creating PCB design transitions. Clear communication and due diligence on the part of both manufacturers are important. This will result in the production of high quality rigid-flex PCBs with exact specifications.