Low Volume PCB Assembly Service: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

This guide explores everything you need to know about Low Volume PCB Assembly Service.

So, before hiring a company to handle all your Low Volume PCB Assembly Service, read this guide.

What Is Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service refers to the assembly of small quantities PCB with a quantity range of between 25 pieces to 5,000 pieces.

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service comes along with the DFT and DFM checking processes.

The DFT checking process supplements the PCB’s operational design with elements like testing points which facilitate the board’s functional testing.

 low volume PCB assembly

Low Volume PCB Assembly Service

The supplemented testing points on the board helps the PCB designer to check the functionality of the product after the physical manufacturing is over.

The DFM checking process enables corrections to be done on the manufacturing errors before the PCB design is received by the fabricator to avoid delays.

How Does Low Volume PCB Assembly Service Compare To High Volume PCB Assembly?

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service involves small quantity assembly of PCB with a range of 25 pieces to 5,000 pieces.

 low volume PCB assembly

low volume PCB

The high volume PCB assembly refers to the assembly of large PCB quantities that range from 10,000 plus pieces.

Both the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service and the high quality PCB assembly comes with the DFT and DFM checking process just to ensure there is proper functionality of the PCB.

 high volume PCB assembly

high volume PCB assembly

In terms of cost, the high volume PCB assembly costs less since there are concessions and less costly unlike the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service.

What Are Key Design Considerations In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The key considerations in the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service include the following;

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Board Constraints

The basic constraints that should be looked at are ones which are associated with the bare board, these constraints include the shape and the structure of boards.

You need to ensure that you are having sufficient board area for the circuit which is going to accommodate factors of its functionality.

Therefore, before the designing process, you ought to estimate a close to accurate or accurate size of the board which will enable enough space for the board’s required functionality.

The Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process you want to use during the development of the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service should be considered.

Depending on the manufacturing process, the reference points and holes to be used, should be ones that work in compatibility with the chosen manufacturing process.

The holes should be always clear of components.

Additionally, the mounting method should be put in consideration as dissimilar approaches may demand some of the areas on the board to being left open.

It is important to understand that more than one production technology can be used, for instance, the through hole and surface mount components.

Combining the two technologies is going to be more costly but at times it is necessary.

Components And Materials

The components and materials to use in the designing of the PCB should be considered, firstly, the preferred components and materials should be within reach.

In most cases, the chosen components and materials are not accessible while others are expensive.

Also, different materials and components can come in different forms not as specified or what you prefer.

Adequate time should be spent to determine what is going for your Low Volume PCB Assembly Service design in the desired manner.

Apart from selecting the right components and materials, you have to ensure that the designed board should play according to the strengths of the items.

Placement Order Of Components

The manner in the PCB components need to be placed is one of the greatest PCB design fundamentals.

The recommended order for the component placement is to start with the connectors, circuit of power, precision circuits, circuits, critical circuits and other elements.

The order of components placement should follow the above guideline as it is the standard one.

Moreover, noise susceptibility, generation and routing capability impacts the routing primacy for the circuit.

Orientation

During the component placement on the bare board, components that are similar should be oriented in a similar direction.

Through doing that, the soldering process is made easier and efficient thus inhibiting errors likely to occur during the process.

Placement

Parts should not be placed on the solder side which is going to be put behind the through-hole parts that have been plated.

Organization

It is also a critical point and event that should be considered as it is going to reduce the assembly steps, cost reduction and increased efficiency.

The components which are to be surface mounted ought to be put on the board’s one side while components of the through hole should be put on the top side.

Is Low Volume PCB Assembly Service Expensive?

No, the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service is less expensive due to the following reasons;

There is a witnessed low costs are the PCBs are made in a smaller batch, then their efficiency is tested before more are produced.

By doing this, customers are rest assured that they are only spending their money on the quality and durable PCBs only.

Furthermore, lots of manufacturers and designers help their customers to purchase PCBS more affordably as they waive off the stencil and costs on non-recurring engineering repeat orders.

Lastly, since parts are bought in large numbers, a low price is achieved per item hence reducing their overall costs.

What Are EMI Challenges In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

Electromagnetic issues often plague the designing of the low volume PCB.

The system design engineers should be able to monitor the electromagnetic interference and compatibility which are the two main issues at play.

The electromagnetic compatibility contains the generating, propagating and reception of the electromagnetic energy.

The electromagnetic interference, EMI, these refers to the undesirable effects of the electromagnetic compatibility as well as the EMI from sources of the environment.

By understanding the above, you find that when there is much of the electromagnetic interference, it results into a damaged or defective PCB product.

A damaged or defective PCB in the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service leads to unfunctional which comes with many costs.

To avoid damaged or defective PCB, the designer should follow the design rules of EMC that will reduce the EMI effects.

What Are The Capabilities Of Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service process is a process that has been verified to be a firm foundation in the prototyping of PCB.

The process has both parallel and sequential prototyping with a consideration that is thorough in the design for assembly (DFA), design for manufacturing (DFM) and the design for testing (DFT).

Options of prototyping and the compatibility with design for assembly, design for manufacturing and design for testing is as follows;

Parallel prototyping of PCB; with this type of prototyping, changes that are different are made on different boards.

The changes are then tested to determine the efficacy level.

For instance,

The component mounting stencil is changed on different boards that have different specifications, the individual change is then tested for the fluctuating results.

The method is appropriate for effective testing, which is the design for testing (DFT).

Sequential prototyping of the PCB;

For this prototyping type, during every cycle, there is a change that incorporated on different boards then the entire cycle is tested for efficacy.

For instance, the component mounting stencil is changed on different boards of different stipulations, the same change is then tested for fluctuating results.

The method is accurate and suitable in efficiency testing, that design for testing (DFT).

What Are The Benefits Of Low PCB Assembly?

Below are some of the benefits of the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service;

PCB Testing

For the low volume PCBs, they have a great advantage that allows for the robust mechanisms of testing on the PCB.

Through the tests, the system engineers designing and developing the PCB, can determine the quality of the product they are bringing on.

Also, in the event there is an error which has been noted basing on the tests done,

It makes it easier to understand if a replacement is needed or a repair on the PCB.

They Have Low Costs

There is a witnessed low costs are the PCBs are made in a smaller batch, then their efficiency is tested before more are produced.

By doing this, customers are rest assured that they are only spending their money on the quality and durable PCBs only.

Furthermore, lots of manufacturers and designers help their customers to purchase PCBS more affordably as they waive off the stencil and costs on non-recurring engineering repeat orders.

Lastly, since parts are bought in large numbers, a low price is achieved per item hence reducing their overall costs.

Design Changes on The Bare Board

The small levels of production will ensure that there is easy change in design if there is need to before adapting large production volumes.

Perfect for New Products

Low Volume PCB Assembly Service is a great advantage to the original equipment manufacturers who intent to produce new products or startups with a new launch.

The small batch of the PCB guarantees that there is an adequate scope to tests the efficacy of the product before large batches of production are made.

Quality Standard

With the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service, the highest quality standards are achieved as each individual board is tested for its proper functionality.

In the event there is a malfunction, the designers and manufacturers are able to determine if there is need of a replacement or repair.

When Should You Use Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service can be used in different ways and applications such as the following;

It can be used in the low volume prototypes of PCB, in the event you want to know the product’s viability before engaging in the product’s large scale production.

Also,

It can be used in the occasion where sizes of products are varying or varying processes of production thus requiring change in assembly lines because of the products requirements.

What Are The Limitations Of Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The low volume PCB has the following limitations;

They consume time during the design phase as the designer should look for the right materials and components that are compatible with the process and they are going to serve the purpose.

Also, some of the components to be used they are out of reach thus consuming lots of time before having them.

Moreover, some of the components and materials to use are expensive.

How Do You Ensure Quick Turnaround For Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

A quick turnaround for the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service can be achieved through the following ways;

Early And Often Communication

Early and often communication during the layout beginning usually help much during the lead time idea,

materials and components available and the DFM requirements of the board.

Failure to take such factors into account can lead to a redesign or increase the lead time during the process of assembly.

Through proper consideration of the factor, you will avoid redesigns and the board will get into production quicker.

Knowing The Manufacturer’s Capabilities

Basing on the design choices, you ought to establish if the assembler can handle the preferred design.

Often, some of the complex designs give the assemblers a hard time thus consuming a lot time and compromising on the standard at the same time.

To do away with this, you should be able to gauge your assembler in terms of what they are capable of thus having an easy time while with them.

The Manufacturer Should Only Be Given Enough Of What they Can Handle

For a turnaround that is quick for the assembly of low volume PCB,

you need to ensure that the board house is able to accommodate the schedule and has a bandwidth in accommodating the order size.

There should be developed processes

which are able to accommodate high mix and low volume manufacturing which will get your board into production just after the design review.

Making The Testing Requirements Clear

The bare board rest is used to in the comparison of a board that has been manufactured to the original Gerber Data.

To make your testing requirements clear, you need to rely more than on the Gerber Data,

A netlist should be included which is send to the manufacturer together with the Gerber Data.

The comparison should be done before the actual manufacturing and assembly process have commenced in order to check for the discrepancies.

The process helps in error stipulation before the assembly process thus it is going to ensure a quicker turnaround.

Which Techniques Do You Use in Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

SMT Technology

This is a type of technology that permits for the creation of electronic circuits that are customized through mounting the individual components on a PCB.

How it works

  • Solder paste printing; there I application of the solder paste on the board through the paste printer.

There is a stencil that ensures that the solder paste has been accurately left on the right places that the components should be mounted on.

An inspection should be done after the solder paste application to uphold the quality of the PCB.

  • Mounting of components; components are then mounted through the component reels which are in the machine.

The components in the component reels are rotated and quickly they stick to the parts of the machine.

  • Reflow soldering; after the component placement, the board goes through a furnace that causes the solder paste liquefy thus the components firmly stick.

Components You Can Mount

Components that can be mounted with this type of technology include; Diodes and transistors, passive SMDS and integrated circuits.

Benefits of this Technology

Lower resistance, frequency performances that are high reduce undesired impacts of RF signals.

Faster production of the set up as the boards don’t have to be drilled for an assembly to take place.

Higher circuit speeds

Limitations of This Technology

Despite the process being a small volume production, it is expensive.

There is difficulty when it comes to inspection.

It’s prone to damage as the surface mount devices get damaged when dropped.

Through Hole Mounting Technology

This the process of mounting the PCB components with the leads using through holes that are plated.

How it works

  • Placement of component; based on the client’s design file, the components are placed manually by engineers on the corresponding positions.

The component placement should be done precisely according to the regulations of the through hole mounting process which thus adhering to quality.

  • Inspection and rectification;

after component placement, the board is now placed in a matching transport frame where the board with components can be inspected to determine accuracy.

In case there is an error, then it can be rectified immediately.

  • Wave soldering; the components should now be soldered on the circuit board.

The board moves gently over a liquid solder at temperatures that are high, about 500°F, then all wires and leads are obtained so as the components are attached to the board firmly.

Components You Can Mount

The components you can mount with this type of technology include; the radial and axial components.

Benefits of This Technology

The process is more reliable

It is much easier to mount, replace and test the components.

Limitations of This Technology

The components are placed manually

On the PCB, components require and consume a lot of space.

When Should You Opt for Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

In times where you need to use the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service include;

The Low Volume PCB Assembly Service is used in the event you have a completed a large production but you are dealing with many errors from the production.

Also, in the situation where you are having a PCB assembler who is going to handle the process with low prices but still maintain on the quality standards.

Do You Provide Low Volume PCB Assembly Service for OEM Orders?

Yes, I do provide Low Volume PCB Assembly Service for OEM orders.

OEM low volume PCB assembly

OEM Low Volume PCB Assembly Service

Which Markets Do Low Volume PCB Assembly Service Serve?

Some of the markets the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service serve include;

  • Oil and gas industry
  • Military industry
  • Nuclear industry
  • Manufacturing industry
  • Medical industry
  • Electronics industry

Can You Automate Low Volume PCB Assembly Service Process?

Yes, you can automate the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service process.

Apart from having that skilled labor,

It is also important to have an automated assembly where you are to utilize mechanized and motorized devices to complete the assembly processes.

The use of automated assembly has made it easier and simpler in the PCB thus reducing the assembly costs.

What Determines Cost of Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The following is what determines the cost of Low Volume PCB Assembly Service;

Prototype making costs

Costs in components and materials procuring

The costs of testing the circuit boards

The costs of component soldering.

What Are The Processes In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

  1. PCB Fabrication Process

This is the process where transformation of a board design into a physical structure according to the design stipulations in the package.

  1. PCB Components Sourcing

This is the process of finding the type of materials and components to use in the PCB assembly process.

  • PCB Assembly Process

This is the process of having everything together into one place and generating something that is functional out many components.

  1. PCB Quality Inspection Process

This is a procedure that is done to ensure that the PCB meets the right quality standards according to the stipulated regulations.

Why Is Design For Manufacturability (DFM) Critical In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The DFM is critical in the Low Volume PCB Assembly Service because it aids in the elimination of iterations and redesigns during the processes of manufacturing and assembly.

What Is Turnkey Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

When applied to Low Volume PCB Assembly Service it means that the supplier is going to take charge of everything that entails mounting small numbers of bare boards.

 turnkey low volume PCB assembly

Turnkey Low Volume PCB Assembly Service

What Does Quality Testing In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service Entail?

Quality test entails;

Functionality test, this determines the behavior of the board based on your specifications.

In circuit test, this type of test illustrates the assembly failures like bad solder joints.

Why Is Pre-production Samples Critical In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

The pre-production sample is critical in the low volume PB assembly since it is referenced for proper accuracy and achieving the right quality standards of the boards.

What Is Design For Testing (DFT) In Low Volume PCB Assembly Service?

It is a way in which the PCB design is supplemented with elements like test points to aid in the functionality testing of the board.

The added testing points on the board helps the designer to heck the functionality after the process of manufacturing has been completed.

For all your Low Volume PCB Assembly Service needs, Venture Electronics is here to help – contact us now.

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