As printed circuit boards, or PCBs, have evolved, so have the technical difficulties manufacturers experience making them. The technology for personal home computers has improved exponentially over the last 30 years. Our demands for newer, faster, and shinier tech has led to new materials and new innovations in PCB fabrication. The problem that arises for the manufacturer is deciding when to make a prototype, and finding fast PCB prototypes when they do.
Prototypes: In Theory, They Should Be Used On Each New Project.
Most computer engineers were taught to start by making a working prototype. During the PCB inspection, they might find weak points or bugs to be fixed. With a successful prototype in hand, they could then move on to assembling the final, and usually more compact, PCB. But if that PCB has issues in design, it could lead to bigger problems. These account for roughly 70% of printing and surface assembly quality errors.
To put it simply, doing things this way takes time, probably more time than most manufacturers would prefer to spend on one aspect of a project. It also eats up resources. As many computer engineers can attest, it easier most of the time to simply have an outline of what to do, maybe look at it with CADs, and then get to work.
Know When Take the Time to Make a PCB Prototype.
For simple, straightforward jobs, this isn’t a problem. Any issues found during the circuit board assembly are fixed by hand. This method of PCB fabrication assembly is used industry-wide because it requires less time, and the engineers can get it out for manufacturing that much quicker.
But there are times when this route will prove to be a bad idea. In complicated projects, such as when the circuit board will be an unusual shape, you may run into some trouble. Sometimes, a job requires the circuit board to fit in a compact space, and the printed circuits will need to be routed in an odd way to work. Essentially, when a project asks for something rarely done or with the potential to go wrong, it is best to complete a prototype, and hopefully a fast PCB prototype. A larger board with plenty of space between breakers will allow an engineer to work and make adjustments as needed, unlike if they simply charged ahead with a regular-sized board.
Fast PCB Prototype Turnaround: What to Look For.
While many places choose to skip the prototype stage, it can help save time. A small batch PCB project may not benefit, but for large-scale operations the hold up at the beginning stages may make up for it later on. An automatically laid line is capable of soldering faster and with more accuracy than 50 engineers doing the same job by hand. This is why some fast PCB prototypes have a turn-around time of 5 days or less, which is faster than 75% of the average PCB prototype shop.
It will be exciting to see how PCBs continue to evolve. For now, we are still designing and fixing mostly by hand. As it is, when a project could benefit from a prototype, it may be worth it in the long run to take the time to do it right.
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