There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in PCB manufacturing and electronic device development. The need for super-fast PCB prototyping and assembly has never been greater. Consumers want to be connected to all kinds of things, all the time. We want to be able to control everything from our thermostat to our sprinkler system right from our tablet or phone. Innovative thinkers are starting companies, launching Kickstarter projects, and often inventing just for the fun of it. The competition to get products into the hands of customers is fierce and time is the enemy. Instant, online PCB quotes are only the first step in getting products in the hands of customers. That’s why a new kind of electronics manufacturing and PCB assembly company has evolved to meet this demand.
Of course companies have been churning out electronic devices with printed circuit boards for decades. The traditional manufacturing infrastructure was developed to serve the needs of huge companies with very large orders, no requirements for iteration, and plenty of time to wait. If you are looking for PCB quotes and want to avoid these legacy manufacturers, look for these warning signs:
In contrast to the legacy model, the modern approach, which is referred to as on-demand manufacturing, or sometimes called cloud manufacturing, makes it possible for service providers to provide support for the creation of PCBs and electronic devices all the way from the initial idea through delivery to the customer. This is achieved using an internet-based technology platform that makes it easy for designers to get instant PCB quotes, track projects, and manage inventory from their browser, anytime.
The technology behind on-demand manufacturing lets vendors package many small orders together so that prototyping orders and small batch runs can be combined with larger orders, reducing costs and allowing them to forgo minimum order quantities.
Amazon Web Services is a good analogy. Software companies of all sizes and types use Amazon to deliver products to their customers. Amazon maintains and owns all of the hardware and network environment. This means that the software providers can focus on what they do best, creating applications and apps while Amazon takes on the infrastructure. The on-demand approach for PCB assembly and device manufacturing does the same for hardware developers. You focus on building exactly the right product and promoting it to your market. Simply upload your designs through an online portal, get an instant PCB quote, and your manufacturing services provider jumps into action to bring your vision to life. You have 24×7 visibility into the status of your project and are never surprised by costs.
These days, we don’t have to wait for Samsung or Apple to come up with a great idea. Just like eBooks have opened up the world of online publishing to almost anyone, printed circuit board development and device manufacturing are becoming more and more available to anyone with an innovative idea. Entrepreneurs and Kickstarter creators are coming up with all kinds of ingenious ideas from wearables to smart appliances. Small businesses are introducing niche devices, and even large organizations give engineers time to work on projects that excite them.
Start-ups and growing businesses usually don’t need large enough orders to get affordable pricing from big, traditional manufacturers. They also generally prefer just-in-time delivery and try to avoid large inventories. On-demand manufacturing caters to the needs of these types of businesses by cutting the costs associated with small quantity runs. Some PCB assembly providers also offer inventory and fulfillment services and may even provide software that integrates the business website with the manufacturing platform. This integrated experience keeps costs low and lets employees spend time focused on strategic business needs. On-demand manufacturing is one way that small businesses and start-ups can accelerate growth.
Kickstarter is just one of many services that have changed the game in terms of fundraising and cutting-edge product sales. Venture capitalists are still funding some start-ups, but it is no longer the only way to get new innovations to market. Of course, an innovative idea is not enough. To be successful entrepreneurs must be able to get high quality products ready to ship in short order. Waiting around for PCB quotes is not an option. Fortunately, modern manufacturing service providers offer both final product delivery and prototyping.
Many companies these days understand that letting employees work on ideas they are passionate about, even if they likely won’t evolve into full-fledged products for market, is a great way to retain talent and keep employees engaged. Modern manufacturers support this by helping engineers create prototypes and iterate as often as they like without the expense associated with old fashioned manufacturing techniques.
Amateur innovators, creators, and designers from many generations have rallied around the Makers movement. New technologies, like 3D printing have made it possible to bring countless new ideas to life. The new breed of manufacturing services makes it feasible for even hobbyists to see their concepts to fruition without spending an arm and a leg.
With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right printed circuit board manufacturing partner for your particular project and needs. Many claim to offer high quality at a low price, but how do you know they will have all of the services and features you need, especially if this is your first time dealing with an on-demand manufacturing partner? We’ve identified the most common features and characteristics to look for.
The key to providing quick service at a low price, even for prototypes and small quantity orders is a technology platform that controls the entire process from the PCB quote through the rest of the lifecycle. Sophisticated software lets the manufacturer group many small orders into bigger ones, allowing them to harness the economies of scale.
You should have a great experience with the partner you choose from the moment you request a printed circuit board quote. Look for an easy-to-use platform that lets you upload your design documents and Bills of Materials for an instant quote. The best solutions also make it easy to run pricing scenarios to determine what your price will be at various quantities. This helps you calculate capital needs and set product prices.
Once you’ve received and accepted your PCB quote, the partner should then take on the heavy lifting of sourcing and purchasing. They should have strong supplier relationships and be in the position to negotiate for the best prices and terms.
These days, you can find a PCB manufacturing partner that can handle orders anywhere from 1 to 10,000. This keeps you from spending too much up front, but gives you the peace of mind that if you grow rapidly, your partner will be in the position to help. You should never have to pay for units you don’t need or worry that your partner won’t be able to fill your needs as you scale.
Look for a cloud-based portal that makes it a snap to track and manage your project around the clock. You should be able to make changes, report on inventory, and get status updates from wherever, whenever you like.
There are still many offshore manufacturers in the market, but they aren’t the only choice any more. You can choose to get your PCB quote from a fabrication service that operates entirely in the US. By doing so, you avoid shipping delays, complicated communications, and potential intellectual property issues.
If you don’t need thousands of a given part, it can be tough to get the best possible price. PCB manufactures with House Parts programs are able to help overcome this. They buy parts that are popular across their customer base in large quantities, then pass the discounts along to you even if you only need a few parts. This keeps your PCB quote as low as possible.
You may be focused on getting the best PCB quote you can right now, but it is always a good idea to think a little further down the path and choose a PCB assembly partner that can also manufacture finished electronic device products. If you go with a service that can take your idea from the planning stage all the way to the customer, you’ll streamline production, simplify vendor management, and keep your costs as low as they can go.
Speaking of picking a partner that can support you through the entire product lifecycle, why not get your quote for PCBs from a company that also offers inventory and fulfillment services. They will build your PCB, manufacture the electronic device, keep it in inventory until it is ordered and then ship it right to your customer. You focus on what you do best and they take care of all the rest. Top-tier partners also help keep your shipping costs down by negotiating with the carriers and passing the discounts on to you. You can even find a partner with an API that ties your e-commerce or ERP application to their platform, making the fulfillment process smooth sailing.
The success of your project is dependent on getting the right partner in the beginning. This is the best way to guarantee the success of your project, product, or company. Watch out for those that offer very low prices, but don’t have the services, track record, and technology infrastructure to back their promises up.
From the moment you get your PCB quote, your experience should be fast, transparent and budget friendly. You should be confident that your partner will take care of all the details, letting you focus on innovation. There’s no need to compromise. You really can have it all.
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.
By choosing one partner that can stand by your side during the entire production lifecycle, from the development of your prototype PCB all the way through to delivery of your end product to the customer, you will reduce the chance of missed communications, eliminate shipping costs and risk, and ensure a successful outcome. Of course, if you are going to have one partner, it needs to be the right one, so choose wisely.
By streamlining the entire process with easy to use online tools, instant quotes for PCBs, and fast prototyping, you can get your innovation into the hands of customers more quickly. It is easy to upload your design documents and Bill of Materials to get your PCB quote in minutes. You don’t have to worry about sourcing because your integrated fulfillment partner takes care of that, even passing along quantity discounts from parts suppliers. Because turnaround times are fast, you can iterate as much as necessary without delaying your project. All of this means that your product gets into the hands of your buyers in the shortest time possible.
The reason that businesses outsource certain functions on a regular basis is that they want to keep their focus tightly on their core functions and competency and let someone else get really good at all the other stuff. It is unlikely that you want to get really great at inventory management and order fulfillment, so why not get your PCB quotes from a firm that does?