How to Choose a PCB Assembly Manufacturer for Your PCB Projects

Printed Circuit Board (Pcb) Assembly Manufacturers.

The name is pretty self-explanatory; these companies will take a pre-designed circuit board and assemble it with all the electronic parts required. The circuit board will be manufactured by a separate company and then shipped to the Pcb assembly manufacturer or Chinese PCBA factory for assembling. This is done as a protective measure, as there are many different components on a circuit board that could easily get damaged during shipment from one point to another.

How To Choose PCB Assembly Manufacturer:

So here it is, the question that drives many people to seek advice on electronic forums. Well, We see this kind of question very often in all kinds of electronic communities, be it online or offline. So we decided to write a blog post about how we would approach selecting an assembly house for my project.

First of all, who are we to give advice about this anyway? Well, we regularly order small quantities of PCBs for various projects and prototypes at various factories around the world. So We Would like to think that we know what to look for in a factory that will build our boards. This is just an opinion piece so take it with a grain of salt.

In this article, we are only going to be talking about through-hole technology (THT) here since SMD assembly is an entirely different thing and requires a lot more knowledge to do properly. 

Steps For Choosing PCB Assembly Manufacturer:

Look For Factory Location:

The first thing you have to look for is a factory location near you. Well, if it’s close by, shipping should be easier and faster so that can save you some money there. Some factories have very convoluted shipping routes, so they may ask ridiculous fees to ship your rewards from them to you since it’s a small PCB shipment.

Check Their Website:

Now the next step of choosing a factory is to visit their website and look at some of their samples of previous work. 

Hire Them For Your Work:

If the samples look good, move on to hiring them for your project. If you want to be super picky about things like inner clearance and trace size, then it may make sense only to consider factories that have a minimum requirement of 4 mils (0.1 mm) or even less if possible, but something like 6 mils (0.15 mm) is a good rule of thumb.

Look For The Options While Choosing:

You would want to get a factory that has plenty of options for ordering your boards. There are three main ways of getting your prototypes made: single-sided, double-sided, and multi-layer (4 layers and up). Of course, the more layers you have on your board, the higher the cost, so it’s up to you how complex you want to go for this.

If you just want to get a quick prototype going, I would recommend using some cheap FR-1 material since it has no certification requirement and the costs are very low. That being said, there is also a lot more prep work involved with making boards from this material, so if you don’t have much experience working with bare copper clad, then it might not be for you.

If, on the other hand, your project is big enough that you want to get some professional certification done on it, then you should look for a factory that has RoHS/WEEE compliance since they can do your certifications for you if they are appropriately certified.

Conclusion:

That’s pretty much all the information I can share on this topic. You should check out PCBway, Seeed, or Elecrow for some quality reference samples. Now I’m sure there are several other PCB assembly manufacturers out there, so if you have any recommendations for this list, then feel free to mention them in the comments below.

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