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Building PCBs as a Stand-Alone Product
In some cases, you might want to ship just an assembled PCB, without an enclosure or any other items, as a stand-alone product. This is common with maker-oriented products and Kickstarter campaigns for development boards, for example. In this guide, we’ll go through everything necessary to create a product out of your PCB design, and then show you how to build the PCB into inventory so that you can start handling fulfillment requests.
Note unless you instruct us to otherwise, we always individually package PCBs in an anti-static bag, heat-sealed with desiccant. This minimizes the risk of humidity or ESD damage during storage, and for many projects this works well enough for shipping in an external package.
Step 1: Define Your PCB Project and Order Prototypes
Before you can create a product around a PCB, you must have a PCB that you’re ready to ship out to customers. Create your PCB project like normal, and order at least one prototype. You won’t be able to make changes to the PCB on the manufacturing line, and you want to ensure that your PCB is being manufactured correctly and that it works as expected before building a large number of them into inventory.
Step 2: Create a Product
Click on Products in the top navigation bar to access the Product Management page. Click on the large green Create New Product button to enter the new product creation screen.
At this screen, you will be prompted to enter some details about your Product, including a unique name, SKU, weight, and dimensions.
Once you have entered these values, you will be able to save the product definition and start entering the components of the product.
SKUs need to be meaningful. A SKU is a Stock Keeping Unit, a unique identifier for your product that will be used in numerous places, but especially in inventory. Every product we build into inventory will labeled and barcoded with this SKU. Each version of a product should have a unique SKU. For example, if you have two versions of a PCB product, and your company is Bob’s Computers, your SKUs might be: BC-GREATPCB-01 and BC-GREATPCB-02, allowing immediate identification of the exact product.
What about Insured Value? Insured Value is a default value we use for insuring your inventory while it’s stored with us. It’s safe to choose a price that our system quotes you for a mid-volume run. Note that we record the actual per unit cost of your devices when building to inventory based on the order. This means that if you have us build 50 units at $500, we will record a $10/unit price for the inventory that moves in when the order is complete, and if you later build 100 units at $750, we will record a $7.50/unit price when that order is completed. This information will be visible in your inventory view. Sale Price is the price you typically sell one unit for, which we use on customs forms when creating Fulfillment requests.
Step 3: Link the PCB to the Product
At this step is where everything starts to come together. At the bottom of the product page, click the Link PCB tab, which is next to the Add Inventory tab. Once you click this, a list of available PCBs will be displayed.
After you click on the PCB you want to link to the Product, you will be asked to select the PCB Version you want linked to the product. A single PCB version may only be linked to a single product at one time. You will have to delete the product if you wish to create a new product linked to this PCB Version. If you have multiple versions of a PCB, you can turn each version into a stand-alone product, which is a great way to sell different versions of your PCB with different components or configurations.
Why only one product per version? If you had multiple Products linked to a single PCB Version, we wouldn’t be able to figure out what SKU to assign to the PCB after it had been built, or how to put it into inventory for you. A single Product per Version ensures that there is no confusion as to where your product goes when we build into inventory.
Once you’ve selected the correct version, and then pressed the green Link button, the Bill of Materials for the product will automatically update from the PCB project, showing you what components make up the product. You’re now ready to start building into inventory!
Step 4: Build into Inventory
Now that you’ve created the Product and linked it to the correct PCB Version, you can start building into inventory. To do this, you will go back to the PCB that is associated with the Product, and ensuring that you’ve selected the correct version, set the desired amount and click Order Now. A quote screen will be presented to you after you verify the build-out for the PCB.
On the quote screen, under the shipping section, you will see the option to Store this Order in Inventory. Select that option, pay for the order, and you’re all set.
Once your order is complete, instead of the standard “Your order has been shipped!” email, you’ll receive an email stating that your order has been stored to inventory.