How to Select the Best PCB Prototype Company
You Have Many Options When It Comes to Choosing a PCB Prototyping Company
It is a very exciting time to be in the PCB and electronic device manufacturing industry. Driven in part by the Internet of Things, and modern consumer’s desire to be connected to everything, all the time, the need for rapid PCB prototyping is exploding. Innovative designers are building companies, launching fundraising projects on sites like Kickstarter, and sometimes just inventing for the fun of it. It’s no wonder that more electronics manufacturing companies are being formed to meet this increasing demand.
What’s great for PCB manufacturers can prove to be a challenge to people looking for the right PCB prototyping company for their project or product. How do you choose from among the many companies claiming to offer low cost and high quality? How do you know what services and features to look for if you haven’t been down this road before? This guide is designed to help. We’ve found that innovators of all kinds can’t go wrong if they choose a partner that meets these criteria.
PCB Prototyping Company Must Haves
A “Smart” prototyping and manufacturing platform
It may seem odd to begin by talking about software, but the secret to providing fast service at a reasonable price for small quantity orders is a software platform that controls the entire process and helps the manufacturer combine multiple small orders into larger ones, gaining the economies of scale without passing quantity requirements on to you.
Express quotes and easy-to-understand pricing
You don’t want to wait weeks for your prototype, much less for your quote. Old fashioned manufacturers are notorious for taking forever to get you a quote (assuming they are even interested in your prototype order). Modern PCB prototyping services should have an online solution that lets you upload your design documents and Bill of Materials then get a quote back instantly. They should also make it very easy to see what will happen to the price if your order quantity increases. There should be no hidden fees or surprises.
Sourcing, purchasing, and assembly
These days, you can expect to find a PCB prototyping partner that will take care of all of the sourcing and purchasing for you. You simply tell them what you want and they deliver in just a few days.
No minimum quantity requirements and the ability to scale
You should look for the best of both worlds by finding a PCB prototyping service that will be happy to take your order at any quantity from 1 – 10,000. You shouldn’t have to pay for units you don’t need, nor should you have to worry that you will outgrow your vendor’s ability to deliver.
Cloud-based project tracking and management
The best solutions offer an online portal that lets you track the progress of your project, manage your design documents and Bill of Materials, make design changes, and report on results all in an easy-to-use interface that’s available 24 x 7.
Discounted pricing on popular parts
You may only need a few of any given part, making it difficult to get the best price. However, the most customer friendly PCB prototyping service providers, leverage their entire customer base to place large quantity orders on popular parts that they can then offer to you at a lower price than your small order would otherwise get.
Electronic device manufacturing
Even if you are only thinking about your PCB prototype right now, it is a good idea to look for a partner that can handle the complete assembly of finished products. By choosing a vendor that can take your concept from the drawing board to the customer, you’ll eliminate the painful management of multiple vendors and keep your costs as low as possible.
Inventory and Fulfillment Services
Along those lines, why not choose a PCB prototype company that will also serve as your inventory and fulfillment specialists? They’ll assemble your PCB, manufacture the final product, store it until it is ordered, and ship it directly to your customer. You can keep your shipping costs down by choosing a partner that negotiates with the shipping carriers and passes lower costs on to you. As an added bonus, some vendors even have an API that integrates your ecommerce or ERP application with their software to make the fulfillment process seamless.
Don’t Compromise When Choosing a PCB Prototyping Company
Getting the right partner at the outset is extremely important to the success of your project, product, or company. Don’t be fooled by low prices without the services, track record, or infrastructure to deliver quality results quickly.
Your PCB prototyping experience should be budget friendly, fast, and transparent. You should be able to focus on your design and business objectives while your partner takes care of the details. When it comes to PCB prototyping, you really can have it all.