Blog  /  Turnkey PCB Assembly: Simplifying Your Electronics Manufacturing

Turnkey PCB Assembly: Simplifying Your Electronics Manufacturing

Turnkey PCB assembly is a great way to spark some life into your electronics project. This PCB assembly service can streamline everything while saving you time and money. In addition, turnkey PCB assembly offers additional control and efficiency, making the fabrication process easy.

Special Offer: Get $100 off your order!

Claim your $100 discount by sending an inquiry today. Act now to save on your next project!
Please email [email protected] for details.

What is Turnkey PCB Assembly?

Turnkey PCB assembly is a service in which a single provider takes care of collecting components, assembly, production, and testing on your behalf.

The entire process, from start to finish, involves:

  1. PCB design and fabrication
  2. Components sourcing and procurement
  3. SMT and through-hole assembly
  4. Conformal coating
  5. Enclosure
  6. Testing

Benefits of Turnkey PCB Assembly

Streamlined Supply Chain Management

Only one vendor provides your turnkey services, meaning other suppliers won’t need to get involved in all or a portion of the project. As a result, all the processes are easier to coordinate and manage.

Cost Efficiency

Customers can save with turnkey PCB assembly by relying on cost-effective suppliers. They take advantage of bulk ordering, supply chains, and economies of scale — making them more cost-efficient.

Reduced Time-to-Market

The end product will land on the market much faster due to the faster manufacturing that results from fewer collaborations between vendors.

Quality Assurance

Meeting consistent quality standards occurs when one supplier takes care of the production process. This also involves regularly focusing on quality control.

When should you yse Turnkey PCB Assembly?

You will want to use turnkey PCB assembly under these conditions:

Reasons to use Turnkey PCB Assembly When Should You Use Turnkey PCB Assembly?

  • Complex Designs: Without turnkey services, projects could see a high demand for in-house resources. So they’re perfect for handling high-density interconnections, sophisticated component integration, and complex designs. All of these rely on expertise, resource optimization, quality assurance, cost efficiency, risk mitigation, and time management.
  • Volume Production: Turnkey services can make large manufacturing runs cost-effective by saving money. This happens because one provider deals with production.
  • Lack of In-House Capabilities: If a manufacturer doesn’t have the right resources or in-house capabilities for assembly, outsourcing becomes a good option.
  • Focus on Core Competencies: Handing over the assembly job to a different provider can allow the company to focus on its core competencies. This means using resources/time to develop products and expand.

Special Offer: Get $100 off your order!

Claim your $100 discount by sending an inquiry today. Act now to save on your next project!
Please email [email protected] for details.

Partial Turnkey vs. Full Turnkey: What’s the Difference?

Two types of turnkey PCB assembly exist: partial and full. Each of these has different use cases and advantages.

Partial Turnkey

With the partial turnkey service, customers hand over a portion of the materials and components to the PCB manufacturer. From there, the provider handles the assembly of the product.

Full Turnkey

Manufacturers source the components/materials, like the boards and stencil, for the project. When using the full turnkey PCB option, customers will need to provide their Gerber files.

Type of Turkey Service Advantages Ideal Use Cases
Partial Turnkey
  • More affordable
  • Better control over the project
  • Can make changes
  • Easier quality control over components
  • Companies eager to slash costs
  • Special/custom-made components
  • Prototypes
  • Low volume production
Full Turnkey
  • One vendor
  • Better quality
  • Cost-effective
  • Lower risk of errors
  • Ability to scale up or down
  • High-volume PCB production
  • Projects with higher complexity
  • Companies lacking in-house capacity
  • Quality control

What is the Turnkey PCB Assembly Process?

Getting familiar with the process can help you understand what to expect and how it works.

Turnkey PCB Assembly Step by Step Process What is the Turnkey PCB Assembly Process?

1. Design Review and File Preparation

Design for manufacturing (DFM) is the process of designing components or products to make them easier to manufacture. It’s important since it can affect the production quality, cost, and schedule. Typically, you’ll need:

  • Gerber files
  • ODB++
  • Assembly drawing
  • NC drill files
  • Bill of Materials (BOM)
  • Pick-and-place files
  • Centroid files

2. Component Sourcing and Procurement

PCB production generally costs more if the project requires special or high-end components, and less with standard components. Meanwhile, lead times vary – higher for hard-to-find or custom components and lower when using available components.

Additionally, component distributors are responsible for sourcing or procuring the components, discussing prices, and inventory management.

3. Material Preparation

By preparing and verifying all the components and materials, the manufacturer ensures that nothing will go wrong during production. This means checking components for damage and making sure they are compatible and high quality. Moreover, they inspect materials, so everything goes well when the assembly time arrives. Following through on this step makes the whole process more reliable and consistent for the assembly, which means there won’t be production delays.

4. PCB Fabrication

It generally takes some time to produce your turnkey printed circuit board. After collecting the components and materials, the manufacturer will start creating your project. This step involves layer stacking, etching or plating, drilling, solder masking, component placement, solder pasting, and reflow soldering.

5. Assembly (SMT and Through-Hole)

SMT uses automation to place the components on the PCB surface. On the other hand, the through-hole assembly involves connecting the components via the circuit board’s holes.

6. Inspection and Testing

Here are the testing and inspection methods used in PCB manufacturing:

  • Automated Optical Inspection (AOI)
  • X-ray inspection
  • In-Circuit Testing (ICT)
  • Functional testing
  • Flying probe testing
  • Boundary scan testing
  • Burn-in testing
  • Environmental stress screening
  • Solder paste inspection
  • Electrical testing

7. Programming

A PCB’s components will need programming so that a device can run specific functions and tasks. Examples of programmable devices include routers, pacemakers, smartphones, program logic controllers, robots, smart locks, Bluetooth, and more.

8. Conformal Coating

This thin chemical film keeps the device’s components and circuit board protected from moisture, dust, vibrations, shock, etc. Usually, conformal coating goes on the PCB after adding the components and before final testing.

9. Final Inspection and Packaging

Manufacturers will do a thorough final quality check on the PCB to spot flaws before shipping it out. This ensures it is reliable, safe, and in working order, keeping the customers happy while avoiding expensive returns.

What are Common Challenges in Turnkey PCB Assembly?

Sometimes, you may face obstacles that can set you back when it comes to turnkey PCB assembly. Here are a few that can cause unwanted delays.

Component Availability

By placing orders in advance, turnkey PCB suppliers won’t run out of components when projects reach critical stages. They also establish strong relationships with other suppliers for component accessibility when needed. Lastly, paying attention to lead times helps with cutting back on delays and on-time delivery.

DFM Issues

A turnkey provider will perform an early DFM review to ensure your PCB design doesn’t have any issues or flaws that could cause defects. Doing so complies with industry standards. Addressing any issues before production leads to cost savings and a high-quality product.

Managing Complex Supply Chains

Providers will rely on expertise and established relationships to navigate complex supply chains. They do this with efficient procurement and coordination, resulting in fewer delays and interruptions.

Ensuring Quality in High Volume Production

Trustworthy providers achieve high-quality, large-scale production quality control. Methods like testing and statistical process control usually ensure a top-quality, reliable product.

Handling Design Changes and Iterations

Partnering with a flexible and adaptable turnkey PCB provider proves beneficial. For example, that partner will adapt to any project design changes and apply those revisions. These processes can prevent delays and deliver a project without issue.

Dealing with Unexpected Delays and Issues

Open communication and contingency planning practices lead to the best results for turnkey PCB assembly. If providers solve unexpected problems, they can manage quality, slash costs, and reduce disruptions.

Strategies for Effective Communication and Project Management

Partners that communicate promptly, with clear project management, and a single point of contact have a lot to offer. With those qualities, you can expect easy collaboration and better communication/efficiency that will result in a good end product.

How to Choose the Right Turnkey PCB Assembly Partner

Selecting the perfect partner for your PCB assembly can put you on the right track toward a high-quality result.

Certifications

The certifications, such as ISO 9001, A59100, and ISO 13485, mean the PCB provider has implemented a reliable quality management system.

Experience

To get a better idea of a supplier’s track record, you should ask some key questions. Asking about their certifications, quality control, previous projects, and PCB manufacturing services gives a better idea of their experience and reliability.

Capabilities

You will need to confirm the project requirements match the provider’s specialization and technologies. So, take a look at the complexity, production volume, and component density. You can also determine its capabilities, like rapid prototyping, HDI, and flexible PCBs.

Communication

Educated and responsive PCB suppliers who communicate clearly can assist customers, keeping them up to date on their projects.

Supply Chain Strength

It’s a good idea to research a provider’s certifications, case studies, risk management plans, and inventory management practices. Doing this will help you understand supplier stability and risk mitigation strategies.

What are the Future Trends for PCB Assembly?

The PCB assembly landscape changes quickly due to tech advancements and the desire for smaller devices. Manufacturers can gain the upper hand in this field by staying ahead of trends.

Miniaturization

The demand for smaller PCBs has increased due to small, portable devices. High-density interconnects (HDI) contributed to such a trend since components can fit in small areas. This happens because HDI tech has advanced routing, multiple circuit layers, and fine lines and spaces.

High-Speed and High-Frequency Designs

PCB technology has progressed to work with 5G and other high-speed applications. It does this by using a circuit design that boosts the signal integrity. Thanks to new software/techniques, PCBs that have a high-speed design will become more common in the future.

Flexible and Wearable PCBs

The industry is using flexible or flex-rigid PCBs more often than rigid types. These can bend and survive stress — a quality needed for wearable tech that features components designed to adapt to the body’s shape. Plus, they’re lightweight and easily manufacturable, so they work best for unique form factors.

Embedded Components

With this technology, components go directly within the channels of the circuit board while being manufactured. After their placement, the components get covered with more board material (layered), integrating them into the board.

3D Printing in PCB Assembly

3D printers fabricate PCBs, and the industry could adopt this method. Stakeholders can 3D-print circuits of different shapes that go on a base material with mechanical, electrical, and optical operations. As a result, this introduces new optimizations and features, like adjustments for printing on large components. This method is error-free, more precise, and efficient.

Increased Automation and AI Use

Both artificial intelligence and advanced automation are making strides in the PCB industry. They help with design, placing components, soldering, and doing quality checks. Also, the algorithm can autonomously route connections for the components.

Turnkey PCB Assembly FAQs

What is the Typical Lead Time for a Turnkey PCB Assembly Project?

A turnkey PCB project can take between 1 and 15 days to assemble. Of course, that length depends on how many components the project needs.

What File Formats do I need to provide for Turnkey PCB Assembly?

You will need the BoM, centroid data, and Gerber or ODB++ design files.

Can you make changes to the Design after the Turnkey PCB Assembly Process has Begun?

It’s expensive and hard to modify the design after assembly has started. Those costs decrease if you discuss any changes early.

 

Back to top: Turnkey PCB Assembly

Special Offer: Get $100 off your order!

Claim your $100 discount by sending an inquiry today. Act now to save on your next project!
Please email [email protected] for details.