Chosing a Quick-Turn Proto PCB House

Posted: January 11th, 2011

In the current environment of printed circuit board (PCB) design the norm seems to be to accelerate the design to final product as quickly as possible. With this in mind it is always best to select a PCB manufacture with the capabilities to meet the requirements and be able to consistently deliver month after month and year after year. It is common to have good success on two or three parts only to have the next job be late or even of inferior quality. There are many factors to consider in making sure the organization you select has the engineering and infrastructure in place to meet the requirements for on-time consistent delivery.
One of the most important things to consider is the capability of the CAM dept. Do the engineers review data quickly and summarize questions for a quick response? Is the first thing the engineers do is run a DFM(design for manufacturing)? By running the DFM potential problems can be identified and quickly rectified. A quick-turn job should be on the floor four hours of receipt of purchase order. Another valuable tool is a check list of parameters and scripting programs to confirm that all data is reviewed and edited the same way.
There are many processes involved with the manufacture of printed circuit boards. All procedures must be followed consistently to ensure the same results. One of the best ways to do this is with “statistical process controls(SPC)”. Does the manufacture you chose perform SPC from the image process through the analysis of plating chemistry? All chemical processes should be setup on SPC so any significant variation can be easily spotted. The application of SPC to the etching process is especially beneficial as it helps ensure line width uniformity. Procedures should be in place for all processes. The procedures would apply from the lamination for multiple layers through the quality control process at final inspection.
A preventative maintenance program should be in place to confirm reliability of equipment. All equipment should be on a weekly, monthly, and semi-annual maintenance schedule. Examples; drills and routers to receive bi-annual PM’s with weekly table maintenance. Exposure units should be cleaned once a month with calibration every six months. Testers and automated optical inspection(AOI) equipment should be adjusted (calibrated) once per year.
Equipment duplication is also a value added factor. Companies with two or more testers, automated inspectors, drills, and routers have the ability to keep your time critical jobs moving if one or more pieces of equipment should go down.
Finding a shop with all processes in house such as immersion gold and silver as well as test helps insure consistent timely delivery. It is best to work with a manufacture that has all processes for complete board manufacture in house.
I’m hoping this brief overview will aid in the selection of quick-turn PCB manufacture. I’ve tried to high-light all important factors that typically determine the success of the PCB manufacturing process.

By: Chuck Anderson, Circuits West -Owner


  1. George Trimmer, August 29, 2011:

    You are good people and great to deal with. PRICE QUALITY DELIVERY are the best

  2. William A. Hardt, September 6, 2011:

    This company was a real find for us. They are professional as well as very competitive. They do a great job. We go to them for all of our boards

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