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How to Choose a Reliable PCB Manufacturer in China

Do you want your PCB sourcing to be successful?

In that case, you have many components to consider.

This guide will show you the standards for choosing PCB suppliers, why select PCB from China, and more about PCB service to make the right choice for a PCB manufacturer.

 

1. The Standards for Choosing PCB Manufacturers

 

Before choosing a PCB manufacturer, think of the requirements of your electronic device. You also need to consider the requirements of a manufacturer. There are more complex PCB issues to which you should pay attention.

The following is a list of 3 points to always have in mind when scouting for your PCB manufacturer.

 

Having a production plant is necessary for any PCB manufacturer

 

1.1 What are the requirements for your product?

 

If you can determine what the requirements of your product are, you'll be able to narrow down your choices of PCB manufacturers. Four of these questions will be covered here, and they will relate to the requirements of your product as much as possible.

 

1.1.1 What is the market for your product?

 

Do you determine the market for your products? The situation is different from selling your products to North America, Europe, Asia, or other needs.

It is vital to position your product. You should decide whether your product is low-end, standard, or premium. Then you will select the manufacturer that has advanced or ordinary equipment accordingly.
Do you know the specific application of your products? Are the outcomes for automation control, instruments, communication, automobile, medical care, military defense, or others?

 

1.1.2 Determine your budget

 

The budget will directly affect the materials that you want to use.
You should consider using premium materials or ordinary materials according to your budget.

Your budget also affects your production level. Whether to produce new products or cut back on production depends on your account.

 

1.1.3 Choosing materials

 

Do you know what kind of materials is best for your device?

Thru-hole is ideal for FR4 materials as compared to FR1, FR2, FR3

First, you should decide whether your product is low-end, standard, or premium. Then you may choose the materials accordingly.

Additionally, the level of flexibility will also determine your PCB sourcing expectations. Your product might require a specific design of the printed circuit board. For example, wearable consumer electronics like smartphones might need flexible or flex-rigid PCBs.

Please note that you can also choose between standard and HDI PCBs. The latter uses high-density interconnect technology, which allows them to place extra components while maintaining minimal size and weight.

 

1.1.4 Production time

 

This question is related to whether you want your idea to make money and the urgency you want to sell your invention to the public. The turnaround time, the more money the manufacturer will expect from sales.

Every company cares about every invested cent. It is vital to stay on schedule by releasing new products and services. That is why you can't afford that any item takes longer delivery than predicted, and that includes printed circuit boards.

 

1.2 Manufacturer requirements:

 

Aside from having specific requirements for your products and looking for manufacturers with similar conditions, you should also have some other questions in mind when it comes to choosing a manufacturer.

Including the manufacture's experience, production capacity, established track record, having a professional staff ready to help, testing procedure, assisting you with marketing.

 

1.2.1 Does the manufacturer have experience in producing devices similar to yours?

 

The experience can be crucial because the chances are that they have already done a similar project to the one you are asking. That way, you can ensure that someone knowledgeable and skillful will be handling the PCB assembly, and ensuring that your board is high-performing and reliable.

 

1.2.2 What kind of production capacity is possible with this manufacturer?

 

You should decide on a company based on your budget and the requirements of your product.

Make sure that the provider has the manufacturing capabilities required to design your board. That includes appropriate equipment that can create the type of PCB you want. Additionally, you want to confirm that they use the materials you would like in the PCB designed for your application. Ultimately, the company needs to be ready to meet your expectations regarding the cost and delivery of the boards.

 

1.2.3 Does the manufacturer have an established track record?

 

The issues surrounding this question are twofold. First, you can select a manufacturer with an established track record to make sure they will produce your electronic device correctly.

The other issue is one that involves taking a risk. While taking a chance on a manufacturer that is not very experienced, in this way, both yourself and the manufacturing firm can gain notoriety at the same time.

 

1.2.4 Do They Have a Professional Staff Ready to Help?

 

The company needs to have the right combo of equipment and staff. Modern machines and tools are not worth much if no one can use them properly. That is why you should look for a manufacturer that gathers a team of trained and experienced engineers.

Professional staff will be there with you every step of the way. They understand the need to clarify your dilemmas and answer any question you might have relating to your product. That is particularly important if it is your first time working with that provider. Pay special attention to the behavior of the staff.

 

1.2.5 What is the manufacturer's testing procedure?

 

PCB manufacturers are responsible for a lot of things in regards to electronics.

It shows testing digital thermometer testing in a lab

 

If your target market for your inventions is large enough, it will be necessary for testing to be very prioritized. It is especially true if your device is for something specific.

Knowing the manufacturer's testing procedure and all of the details that the testing procedures entail will also give you peace of mind. It is never a good thing to represent a device that has not been tested thoroughly.

 

1.2.6 Will the manufacturer assist you with marketing?

 

Marketing can be a very tedious task. When done on one's own, it can take months or even years to develop effective marketing strategies for any product. Electronics are not exempt from this, and if you are a designer who does not have a marketing team or who do not have the capital to spend on marketing, you will want all the help you can get. You will probably want your manufacturer to assist you with marketing.

 

1.3 Specific PCB issues you should know:

 

Aside from knowing the requirements of your product, manufacturer requirements, there is something more you should pay attention to the PCB issues. The following is a list of 8 points for your information.

 

1.3.1 PCB geometry and circuit

 

As human beings continue shrinking the electronics in daily life, the requirement for concise documentation continues to grow, becoming more critical at every node. The dimensions provided are the determinants of either failure or success. If the tolerances are very tight, the costs will be high. Conversely, loose tolerances bring about misfit parts that may need some reworking. To ensure the avoidance of short circuits and other challenges that may arise during printed circuit board operation, there's a need to pay attention to such a problem.

 

1.3.2 Copper wire area

 

Copper is a common material used in making traces when it comes to circuit board manufacturing.

Copper PCB

Hints are some of the essential elements because they transmit electrical signals to different parts of a printed circuit board. Without such traces at their intended place, printed circuit boards will not be functional as intended.

The most significant benefit of using copper material is it's significantly conductive, meaning that it can transfer signals without losing electricity in the process. Additionally, you'll only need small tons of copper to complete your project instead of using a lot of it.

 

1.3.3 Handle solder carefully

 

To ensure that your PCB board manufacturing comes out as planned, you'll have to ensure that you handle the welding carefully. Solder is an alloy of metal that's melted to create a permanent bond between electrical components. Poor handling of the weld may bring about disturbed, cold, or overheated joints.

 

1.3.4 PCB manufacturing selection of solder mask

 

Solder mask, also known as solder resist, is a thin layer that covers copper traces of a printed circuit board to protect the metal elements from oxidation, dirt, and corrosion.

A PCB with black solder mask

Additionally, solder masks aim at preventing soldering bridges from taking place on the covered areas of a printed circuit board. If you don't have solder masks on PCBs, the copper traces connected with solder paste may bring about short circuits on the board.

Deciding on the appropriate solder mask to use largely depends on the dimensions of the board, components, holes, surface layout, conductors, and the final application of where the product will be applied. Dry masks work best if the board surface is flat. On the other hand, liquid options are ideal for PCBs with sophisticated surfaces.

 

1.3.5 PCB manufacturing signal and rf issues

 

Signal integrity comes in as one of the biggest problems associated with the manufacture of high-speed printed circuit boards, especially when it comes to custom electronics manufacturing.

To ensure that you reduce potential problems related to signal integrity, then it is vital for a printed circuit supplier is in a position to provide PCBs with durable designs.

Apart from signal integrity, printed circuit board designers or RF have to employ laminate materials ideal for the current project.

The basis of the choice you make has to meet or satisfy the electrical needs required by the RF circuit, such as signal speeds and loss rate, among others.

 

1.3.6 PCB manufacturing through-hole type

 

Through-holes are copper cylinders placed or formed in holes drilled on a printed circuit board.

An image of how Through-hole technology is actualized

Through-holes are purposeful in electronically and thermally join traces, pads, and polygons on several layers of the printed circuit board.

The critical thing to note is that the type of vias used depends mainly on the drawings used on the circuit board. For instance, for a simple two-layer board, it may be ideal to use through via. But if you are manufacturing boards that will contain more than two layers, you may find it perfect to use buried or blind vias, though at some increased costs.

 

1.3.7 PCB manufacturing thermal issues

 

We are lately witnessing an increasing demand for devices that are high power-hungry. For this reason, trying to avoid thermal problems with products is now more critical than it was before.

Problems may arise, especially in three different areas, such as thermal relief, solder parts, and thermal stress. Luckily, though, there are specific printed circuit board thermal design procedures that designers can use in mitigating or handling these potential problem areas.

Having the right or ideal thermal management practices or techniques will help you keep your board as fresh as possible as you go ahead to design your next revolutionary products.

 

1.3.8 The importance of testing

 

Printed circuit boards find substantial use in almost all electronic devices and are responsible for the functionality of the electronic device. However, defects during the production process may see a manufacturer releasing boards that won't meet the demands of the market. It is the reason why testing is essential.

Testing catches errors and faults way much early before undertaking the final production run. With testing, designers can detect problems and rectify them before releasing their products to the market. Screening saves PCB manufacturers a lot of time and costs.

 

2. Why Choose China PCB?

 

International companies and product developers widely concern China's huge PCB market for their high quality and low price.

China PCBs

In this part, we'll walk you through the process of choosing the right China PCB manufacturer that provides excellent products and value-added service.

 

2.1 Benefits and features of China PCBs

 

When it comes to a customer's requirements, China PCBs possess the right criteria to fulfill their need.

 

2.1.1 Save cost

 

When you buy PCB online in China, you can tag printed circuit boards and other accessories illustrated on their websites. The key goal is to ensure you receive all your orders simultaneously, saving you from time wastage and spending more money with individual requests.

 

2.1.2 Inventory

 

If customers sourced PCBs from their own country, they would have to pay large sums of money for inventory and warehouse costs.

Comparatively, outsourcing PCB manufacturing services in China eliminates the cost of keeping excess inventory.

 

2.1.3 Production speed and quality

 

Look to partner with a PCB assembler that has outstanding quality checks in their assembly

 

China's PCB manufacturers have the latest equipment to develop advanced models at very high speeds. It is due to their impressive rate of production and immense labor force.

China's companies can make accurate duplicates of electronic components from other countries at a reduced cost of materials and labor. Therefore, customers won't be compromising on quality either.

 

2.1.4 Technology, capability, and experienced experts

 

China's PCB manufacturers have advanced technology to make complex and innovative circuit boards, while the workforce includes highly capable engineers and assembly teams.

With so much of the world's volume of PCB production channeled to the country, the workforce there is skilled at assembling accurate PCBs and effectively fulfilling its requirements for a design.

 

2.1.5 Environmental policy

 

China's government put one of the strictest environmental protection policies(See the link below) into effect in recent years.

The manufacturers are trying their best to make sure their processing systems and the sources of their raw materials won't harm the environment. Then Consumers will get guilt-free purchases, and the products they use are environment-friendly.

 

2.1.6 Production standardization

 

China's PCB industry has set standard guidelines for producing modern and in-demand PCBs. The product standardization across manufacturers and companies make it easy for customers to compare different suppliers and their products.

 

2.1.7 Stable delivery time

 

As a PCB supplier or distributor, the amount of time a production company spends delivering your product is essential. However, China remains the best option when it comes to short delivery times.
Once you have made your request, your order will be processed and shipped in the shortest time possible. Also, the platforms allow you to contact them directly, unlike other manufacturers from other parts of the world.

 

2.18 Payment terms

 

With clients from all over the world, China has devised the best payment options in place. Most production companies accept payment options such as PayPal, credit/debit cards, direct bank transfers, e-wallets.

 

2.2 How to choose a China PCB manufacturer?

 

When it comes to China PCBs, there's an endless number of manufacturers to choose from. To help you get PCBs with high quality and low costs, we've compiled which crucial steps you should take to select a reliable China PCB manufacturer.

 

2.2.1 Analyze their sample

 

To evaluate whether a manufacturer's product meets the need, it's essential that the customer request PCB samples.

If the customer has adequate knowledge about PCBs, they can quickly evaluate the manufacturer's innovative capacity and production potential by analyzing the quality of the provided samples. If they meet your standard, you'll determine whether they have the necessary resources and technology to achieve higher demands for customized PCBs.

 

2.2.2 Test their voice on customer feedback

 

Customer service and feedback response can significantly affect your experience with a China PCB manufacturer.

Customers who have had an unpleasant experience with China PCB manufacturers complain that suppliers lack adequate communication skills and cause costs to rise.

Therefore, learn how quickly and appropriately a manufacturer addresses and responds to customer feedback. After that, you can make the final decision as to whether you want to employ their services or not.

 

2.2.3 Do they possess international certification?

 

The main clients of China's PCB products are from overseas.

It means that every accredited production company has an inspection certificate that helps you decide whether they are registered to sell their products or not. On the websites, you will access international certification documents that portray their competence, compliance standards, and approval from third-party entities.

 

2.2.4 While you're at it, you should also determine if the company complies the environmental protection regulations

 

You should make sure that the manufacturer complies with China's new environmental protection regulations. Making sure of this aspect in the early stages of selecting a China PCB manufacturer can prevent any disruptions later, which can occur if a manufacturer isn't compliant with production codes.

 

2.2.5 Quality of pre-sales and post-sales services

 

Customers should check a company's pre and post-sales services to determine whether they want to outsource the manufacturer.
In the pre-sales process, observe how long it takes for them to address your queries and offer detailed-enough information.

In the post-sales process, check their tech support, warranty, and package return services. If you find that they respond promptly, this is beneficial because it means added value in quick pre-sales and after-sales service.

 

2.2.6 Capability and equipment

 

If possible, customers should always try to access at least the manufacturing location of the PCB.

A company's production equipment and manufacturing capabilities reflect its dedication to providing impeccable service and efficiency.

 

2.2.7 Lead time and delivery

 

Even though different PCB types have different delivery schedules, check to see if production can be completed and delivered within the set period. If yes, it's a sign of substantial production capacity, and you can rely on them to perform the agreed products on time.

 

3. More About PCB Service:

 

Here is more information about PCB service, including the cheap PCB prototypes and PCB manufacturing and assembly manufacturing.

 

3.1 Cheap PCB prototypes

 

It can be very advantageous for any appliance engineering, designing, or manufacturing firm to explore cheap PCB prototyping.

A technician in a prototype PCB supplier’s workshop inspecting quality standards

But how do we choose a competitive PCB prototypes supplier? What factors should be considered in this? Let us help you answer them one by one.

 

3.1.1 Benefits of using cheap PCB prototypes

 

Since you are only ordering a blank template of sorts, it is possible to use an inexpensive PCB prototype for nearly any device without sacrificing anything. Here are some other benefits of using cost-effective PCB prototypes.

 

3.1.1.1 Low risk and low loss

 

Low cost also means low risk. Design problems can arise after testing. If you used a cheap PCB prototype to design your PCB, losses are minimal, reducing the risk you take. And Cheap PCB prototypes also have the same kind of quality despite their straight appearance.

 

3.1.1.2 Faster production

 

Prototype PCBs can be manufactured quickly. The average order of a prototype PCB is two or so days, making it easier to start testing processes.

It can be a godsend when it comes to time-sensitive projects. In just a matter of weeks, you'll be able to produce PCBs for whatever device they are needed for when you order prototype PCBs. It can take much longer when using PCBs that require production when requested.

 

3.1.1.3 Ability to detect flaws earlier

 

The main risk of ordering the production and assembly of the PCB is that it takes a lot of time and money to start the repair process.

While detecting and repairing flaws is a normal part of testing PCBs that have been ordered by a manufacturer, doing this is much easier when using a cheap PCB prototype. It is because flaws in a prototype PCB are easy to detect and can usually be seen earlier. It can save a lot of time and money.

 

3.1.1.4 Solutions from one source, not multiple sources

 

PCBs that aren't ordered from their prototype suffers from a couple of drawbacks that go unnoticed.

PCBs that are not ordered straight from the prototype is often collected from multiple production chains. It means that you'll need to seek out different solutions from different sources if something goes awry. It can cost a lot of time and possibly money, resulting in projects being held up.

 

3.1.2 Things to consider when ordering or purchasing cheap pcb prototypes

 

Quality is always an issue when dealing with anything that entails PCBs, but this is even more the case when it comes to PCB prototypes. When it comes to quality, it will make sense to look for how customizable the board is, since you are essentially ordering a "blank template" of a PCB when it comes to a prototype.

 

3.2 11 Choices for PCB fabrication and assembly

 

In short, a PCB tells electricity where to head to, an aspect that brings your electronics to life.

Compound Assembly
Compound Assembly

What is the production process of these devices? What is the right method for PCB manufacturing and assembly?

This article is a helpful guide aimed at helping you in choosing the best method for PCB fabrication and assembly.

 

3.2.1 PCB manufacturing and assembly-etching

 

We describe etching as a subtractive method that PCB designers use when producing printed circuit boards. There are several solutions that designers can use to etch PCBs.

However, some of the basic ones are Ferric Chloride and Ammonium Persulphate. Ferric Chloride is ideal for hobbyists and students, while Ammonium Persulphate is better suitable for established PCB designers. Ammonium Persulphate is expensive but hard to control, a reason why hobbyists may find it challenging to use.

 

3.2.2 Direct manual operation

 

On most occasions, though, manual welding is perfect for low-volume work and prototypes. Of importance to note, though, is that while a direct manual operation is one of the quickest ways of getting patterns on the board, it may be challenging to locate the traces accurately, especially when using IC packages during the design process.

 

3.2.3 PCB manufacturing and assembly-photographic

 

To achieve an impeccable board during the PCB manufacturing and assembly, you can use the photographic process. At this moment, you should cover the copper on the bare board with a thin lining of photo-resist. You then expose it to light through a photographic film that will detail all the relevant tracks that will now be on your new board.

Now we can copy the image, wherefrom their developers can easily use any PCB software to transfer it to the real circuit board. Better yet, once a designer is done with the artwork film, then the same artwork film can find use over and over again when additional panels are needed. To get good artwork, PCB designers need to ensure that they employ a suitable graphics package/drawing or an ideal PCB CAD program.

 

3.2.4 Direct plating

 

Direct plating is not only low-cost, but an environmentally-friendly process compared to electrochemical plating. Natural plate eliminates the use of heavy metals while helping PCB designers to reduce their operating costs. A direct scale is another excellent and cheaper way of getting the best PCBA results.

 

3.2.5 Screen printing technology

 

Screen printing technology helps engineers and manufacturers to identify all the parts of a board, with the ink that's mainly used being a non-conductive epoxy.

While the use of screen-printing technology seems to be on the decline, the reason for this is that the technological demands of printed circuit board designs outweighing those of scree-print capabilities. For example, photo-imaging comes with more precision and accuracy compared to screen-printing.

 

3.2.6 Selection of photographic tools

 

When manufacturing printed circuit boards, selecting a variety of photographic or imaging tools is also essential. PCB assembly is a long process that involves the following steps:

  • DFM
  • PCB fabrication
  • Material inspection
  • Solder paste printing
  • Machine placement
  • Reflow soldering
  • X-ray inspection
  • Wave soldering
  • Manual soldering
  • Final inspection

The above steps call for the use of the right photographic tools suitable for the job. Apt examples of specific tools include the post-press equipment, milling machines, and paper slitting cutting machines. To get the best PCB assembly and fabrication results, proper photographic or imaging tools are a necessity.

 

3.2.7 PCB assembly methods

 

3.2.7.1 SMT assembly technology

 

With electronics manufacturing gaining momentum, better and more efficient processes became necessary, bringing about SMT assembly technology. SMT is one of the best PCB fabrication and assembly methods based on a host of advantages that come with it, such as the following:

  • Simplicity
  • Less prone to error
  • Efficiency
  • Affordability

 

3.2.7.2 Manual PCB assembly technology

 

Even though SMT line machines bring about better results, and in a consistent manner for a majority of printed circuit boards, there are specific times when printed circuit board assembly by hand makes a lot of sense.

For instance, when undertaking PCB fabrication, and construction for prototype boards of low quantity, it would be ideal to do so manually.

Similarly, parts that consist of unusual shapes may bring complications when handled by machines. Again, manual assembly is suitable in such a case.

 

3.2.7.3 Reflow soldering technology

 

The reflow soldering technology is the process of applying solder paste as a means of temporarily attaching thousands of small electrical parts to the intended contact pads. After this, the whole assembly gets subjection to some controlled heat. Reflow soldering is equally another excellent method for PCB fabrication and manufacture based on the fact that it brings about reliable soldering and being easy to control and monitor. It is highly ideal when it comes to the mass production of electronic components.

 

3.2.8 PCB assembly equipment

 

The best way of carrying out PCB fabrication and assembly is by employing the right printed circuit board equipment that is suitable for the job at hand. As a printed circuit board designer, using substandard tools or equipment not meant for the jobs might see you producing printed circuit boards that will not function as desired.

 

3.2.9 Functional test selection

 

Printed circuit board's functional tests get done at the end of the production process to ensure that the manufactured products won't fail or experience a shortened shelf life.

The Selection of a test depends on what the designer wants to achieve. Examples of functional tests include:

  • X-ray inspection
  • PCB solderability test
  • Micro-sectioning analysis
  • Solder float test
  • PCB contamination test
  • Peel test

 

4. Conclusion

 

OurPCB is your perfect partner in the world of PCB sourcing. The company has state-of-the-art equipment that complies with the latest standards. We have years of experience in the PCB industry and a portfolio of simple and complex projects that we completed.

OurPCB is ready to offer affordable prices and the best ratio of cost and quality you will find. The company is experienced, reliable, and prepared to deliver worldwide in the shortest possible timeframe.