Professional engineer review; strict quality control for each process.

Advanced Testing Technology To Ensure the Quality such as AOI Test, E-Test, X-RAY, Impedance Control.

We committed to helping customers get the highest quality products and services with competitive prices (especially multilayers PCBs).

With quick-turn PCB assembly services, the key aspect is time. The service covers both the fabrication and assembly processes in circuit board production, so you’ll only have to handle the design process, and we’ll make sure the entire process takes as little time as possible.

In general, quick-turn PCB assembly enables manufacturers to fulfill orders faster than ever to meet pressing schedules or demanding deadlines for customers in the increasingly growing and competitive electronics market. Here’s all you need to know about this service and our capabilities as your contract manufacturer.

What is Quick-Turn PCB Assembly?

Quick-turn PCB assembly refers to a process where printed circuit boards are manufactured and assembled in a short time, usually within 24 hours to 7 days max.

Fab houses initially used this quick-turn assembly process for low-volume PCB production and prototyping. However, changing user requirements and recent advancements in PCB manufacturing have made it possible to use quick-turn production on high-volume orders.

Consequently, as an electronics designer or manufacturer, you can now use this process to get your products to market faster and gain a competitive edge.

Let’s say you’ve discovered a new feature that has the potential to revolutionize the electronic product you’re selling. Someone else might have a similar idea, or your project might leak to the competition if it takes too long to implement. However, with quick-turn PCB assembly, you can execute and actualize your idea faster, and gain more market share before other players enter your space.

What Types of Quick Turn PCB Assembly Are Available?

The types of quick-turn PCB assembly vary depending on factors like the order volume, component mounting type, and board sides.

Types of Quick Turn PCB Aseembly

Multiplied PCBs

Low- to Mid-Volume PCB Assembly

Low-volume PCB assembly refers to orders requiring as low as 250 boards, while mid-volume PCB assembly refers to circuit board orders below 1,000 pieces. This type of quick-turn PCB assembly usually takes the shortest time because it closely resembles PCB prototyping. However, there are other factors to consider that can slow down the production process.

Large Quantity PCB Assembly

Large quantity or high-volume PCB assembly refers to orders above 1,000 pieces. These orders usually take the longest time to process but will be completed within the 24-hour to 7-day timeline.

Double-Sided SMT Assembly

A double-sided SMT assembly has electronics components soldered on both sides. Assemblers solder one side first to keep the components from falling off when handling the other side.

RoHS-Compliant Circuit Boards

RoHS originated in the EU and compliance means the board must not have any of these restricted 10 substances. The substance that applies to PCB assembly is lead, so RoHS-compliant boards must have lead-free solder on the welded joints.

Ball Grid Array (BGA) Component Reballing

BGA reballing involves changing each solder ball on the component’s grid connection to create a more accurate connection between the chip and the PCB.

Surface Mount Technology and Through-Hole Mounting

Boards with surface-mount technology (SMT) assemblies have all the components placed on the board’s surface-mount pads using pick-and-place machines. These components are then soldered onto the pads using reflow soldering.

On the other hand, through-hole mounting requires either manual placement or automated insertion mount machines to place the axial or radial component leads through the holes. After that, the board goes into a wave soldering machine to weld the parts.

Combining the two in a mixed assembly makes the process more complex, meaning it will require more time.

How Long Does the Quick Turn PCB Assembly Take?

The quick-turn PCB assembly process takes anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days, with this timeframe varying depending on the following factors.

Design Guidelines

One of the key factors that facilitates fast turnaround times for quick-turn PCBs is sticking to the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and Design for Testing (DFT) guidelines.

DFM (and DFA) involves optimally organizing the PCB layout to ensure your contract manufacturer can manufacture and assemble your PCBs cost-effectively and correctly with minimal difficulties and errors delaying the process.

Testing is essential for quality control, so DFT is an important design guideline that adds testability features to the PCB hardware design. Your contract manufacturer will apply testing steps in the manufacturing and assembly processes, and DFT simplifies testing, resulting in a faster turnaround time.

Number of Board Layers

A single layer PCB is easier to manufacture because the circuit is simple and does not require multiple lamination cycles or complex structures like via-holes. Therefore, this board often has a 24-hour turnaround time.

Laminated PCB

A laminated PCB

A single layer PCB is easier to manufacture because the circuit is simple and does not require multiple lamination cycles or complex structures like via-holes. Therefore, this board often has a 24-hour turnaround time.

The more layers, the more complex the stack, and a high board’s density in multilayer boards further complicates the manufacturing process. 2-layer PCBs can have a turnaround time of 2 to 3 days, but 5–10 layer boards usually take 6 to 7 days to produce.

Order Quantity

Low- to mid-volume PCBA orders can take 24 hours to 3 days, but high-volume orders can stretch the turnaround time to 7 days, especially if they are complex, multilayer designs.

Type of Surface Finish

Each surface finish type takes a specific time to apply and gets applied separately. For instance, HASL only takes about 20 minutes, but ENIG requires 2 hours. These figures might seem negligible, but they add up if you have to apply different surface finishes.

Surface-finished PCB edge connectors

Surface-finished PCB edge connectors

Let’s say the PCB requires HASL, ENIG, and hard gold for the edge connectors. HASL will take 20 minutes, then another 2 hours for ENIG. Hard gold will add a few more hours, making it 5 or 6 hours total.

What are the Benefits of Quick Turn PCB Assembly?

The primary benefit of quick-turn PCB assembly is the accelerated time to market for your products. But it has some secondary benefits:

Cost Savings

DFM is essential before quick-turn PCB assembly, which aligns the PCB design with your contract manufacturer’s abilities, including using the available and most cost-effective materials. This process helps lower production costs while eliminating errors that can be costly to fix in the future.

DFA also lowers costs by helping you optimize the PCB design to have fewer parts and a simple layout for easy assembly.

Enables Rapid Prototyping

Quick-turn PCB assembly is similar to prototyping, meaning you’ll develop your product quickly by taking it through several iterations to perfection. You’ll also be able to increase the product’s features quickly so you’re always a step ahead of the competition.

Quick Defect Identification

Since the process resembles prototyping, you’ll be able to identify design/manufacturing defects quickly and fix them within the stipulated timeline.

What is the Quick Turn PCB Assembly Process?

The quick-turn PCB assembly process is a circuit board production process that begins with design and ends with the delivery of the final product. Let’s look at the steps in this process in detail.

What is Involved in Design and Preparation?

What is Involved in Design and Preparation

OurPCB Technician analyzes a PCB design before approving it for production

When designing the PCB, you have to understand and implement key electrical parameters to create a PCB layout from the schematic diagram. Design the stack as well, then define the design rules and place your components.

Once the design is ready, send the design files (usually Gerber and Centroid), BOM, pick-and-place files, NC drill files, etc., to your quick-turn PCB assembly partner.

As your preferred fab house, we will prepare for manufacturing by doing DFM checks, which will help determine if we can effectively build the PCB without any issues causing delays. This process also identifies potential defects in your designs, which we can help you fix before moving forward.

We also do DFA checks that cover the following:

  • Footprint design
  • BOM
  • Component placement and spacing
  • Solder mask clearances
  • Silkscreen text
  • Test points and probing
  • Panelization

Overall, DFM and DFA save time and money, which are critical factors in quick-turn PCB assembly.

OurPCB electrical engineer examining PCBs on a test bench

OurPCB electrical engineer examining PCBs on a test bench

What is Involved in Component Sourcing and Procurement?

When sourcing components, we use the BOM to determine what your board needs. Sourcing components quickly is tricky, so we maintain an inventory of the most commonly used electronic components like capacitors and resistors.

But if we don’t have all the parts in stock, we have an extensive network of accredited suppliers like Future Electronics, Avnet, and Arrow who give us discounted deals when buying in bulk. This benefit will trickle down to you, meaning a lower PCBA cost.

You can supply us with some or all parts as well if you have them in stock. Alternatively, you can purchase them separately and have them sent to our assembly plants. This process is highly flexible.

How Does PCB Fabrication Work?

PCB in a pick-and-place machine

PCB in a pick-and-place machine

Quick-turn PCB fabrication begins with printing or imaging of the PCB layout followed by etching, stack creation, hole drilling, hole plating, solder masking, silkscreen printing, and surface finishing.

We use these steps to create a prototype for testing and validation before manufacturing the entire batch. Some of the techniques we can use for rapid prototyping include:

  • Using prototype-specific design rules
  • Simplifying the design
  • Prioritizing core product functional validation
  • Prototyping using simulated components (if not readily available)
  • Building multiple revisions (parallel prototypes)

Once you’re satisfied with the prototype’s performance, we proceed to full production. Multilayer boards require multiple etching and lamination cycles, so they require more time and precision to complete.

Regardless of the board type and stack size, we prioritize inspection and functional testing during and after fabrication for quality control purposes.

How Does PCB Assembly Work?

PCB ready for assembly

PCB ready for assembly

PCB assembly begins with the SMT, where the first step is solder paste application via a stencil. Solder paste inspection machines check the height, width, length, and volume of the printed paste before component placement using pick-and-place machines.

The board then goes into a reflow oven to weld the components at 210–250 °C for lead-free solder paste and 180–220 °C for lead solder paste. AOI, X-ray inspection, and flying probe or bed of nails testing follow suit to certify the PCB as ready to ship. BGA chips fall in the SMT category, so they follow this SMT assembly process.

If the board requires through-hole components, we use automated insertion mount machines to insert the component leads through the holes. After that, it’s into the wave soldering machine.

For boards with mixed assemblies, the final inspection and functional testing steps come after wave soldering. Regardless of the component type, our engineers begin the assembly work within hours after receiving the required parts for the project.

What is the Quick Turn PCB Testing Process?

PCB pads and vias under a microscope

PCB pads and vias under a microscope

The quick-turn PCB testing process involves using methods like ICT, functional, flying probe, and burn-in testing.

  • ICT (In-Circuit Testing): This is a software-operated process that places the assembled board on a bed of nails (spring-loaded pins) that align with multiple testing points on the board to inject power and read signals.
  • Flying Probe Testing: Instead of a bed of pins, this method uses high-precision mobile pins that hover above the board to connect to the testing points.
  • Burn-in Testing: With burn-in testing, the boards are taken through stress testing under extreme conditions like high voltages and high temperatures to identify errors and ensure reliability.
  • Functional Testing: This test simulates the board’s operating environment and is usually the last step in the assembly process.

Other testing processes include aging, fatigue, and environmental stress testing.

What is Involved in Packaging and Shipping?

What is Involved in Packaging and Shipping

A batch of PCBs straight from the production and assembly line

There’s the initial prototype packaging and expedited shipping before full production. Packaging of the final PCBs is similar to the prototype packaging, which is in an antistatic bag with a ziplock seal. We can vacuum seal them as well, and place desiccant packets to absorb any moisture trapped in the package.

Fast shipping makes sense when you want quick-turn PCBs, but you can opt for non-expedited shipping to cut costs. The choice is yours.

What are the Quick Turn PCB Assembly Capabilities?

Our quick-turn PCB assembly capabilities include delivering rigid, flexible, and rigid-flex circuit boards in this short timeline. We can make these bendable boards compact and resistant to heat and vibrations as well.

Our team of expert technicians and engineers can also build quick-turn miniature circuit boards for the modern compact devices used in IoT and communications equipment.

Regardless of the size or rigidity, these boards will have a high tensile strength to maximize durability and enhanced heat dissipation to keep the components at their optimal performance range. Some of the techniques we can use to improve heat dissipation include installing heat sinks and enhancing airflow above and below the PCBA.

How to Choose a Quick Turn PCB Assembly Partner

Engineers designing PCBs using CAD software

Engineers designing PCBs using CAD software

When choosing a quick-turn PCB assembly partner, we recommend checking these five factors:

  • Professionalism: Look for a professional partner who will deliver reliable, tested and certified boards in the shortest time possible.
  • High Operational Capacity: Choose a partner with a high operational capacity who can deliver low, medium, or high quantity orders within the 7-day limit. This partner should demonstrate flexibility to adjust the manufacturing and assembly processes to meet your demands.
  • Manufacturing/Assembly Equipment: Quick manufacturing and assembly ultimately relies on the installed equipment. Our production facilities have the latest Siemens and Yamaha SMT lines, as well as other equipment for manufacturing and testing the complete boards.
  • Keeping up to Date: Your quick-turn PCB assembly partner should have more than manufacturing and assembly equipment. Technology changes rapidly, so your partner should have the latest equipment to be able to build you the most advanced PCBs possible.
  • Design Assistance: Producing quick-turn PCBs requires regular engagement and assistance during the design phase to ensure the layout that goes to manufacturing is error-free. Your partner should assist you in this process to streamline the DFM, DFA, and even DRC.

What are the Challenges and Limitations of Quick Turn PCB Assembly?

Quick-turn PCB assembly isn’t without its challenges and limitations. Although the DFM and DFA processes help to cut costs, the expedited manufacturing, assembly, and shipping processes will increase the overall production costs.

Component availability can also be challenging due to the quick nature of this process. Consignments and partial assembly options can eliminate this issue, especially for the unique, hard-to-find parts.

Lastly, although the process includes quality control measures, they might not be as stringent as the ones implemented in regular PCB production. Fab houses have to do the tests quickly to deliver within the stipulated timelines, which can affect quality.

Several PCBs under production in a factory

Several PCBs under production in a factory 

Why Choose OurPCB?

OurPCB is the leading electronics manufacturer in China that specializes in PCB manufacturing, assembly, quick turn PCB assembly, and electronics design. We have an extensive list of clients including Intel, Sigfox, Great Wall, and Bewatec – testaments to our abilities as a professional PCB fab house you can rely on for customized, efficient services. We’re also ISO:9001 certified, so high-quality products are guaranteed.

 

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OUR COMPANY

In 2005, we founded OurPCB. And ever since, we have grown to be reckoned with in the PCB Assembly Industry. Also, we have top and experienced PCB engineers in our PCB Manufacturing and assembling firm based  in China.

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