For anyone who's into electronics, whether an individual or a big company, there always comes the point when one has to get a PCB fabricated and choose a PCB Turnkey Service.
There are several manufacturers to choose from, and it's often not an easy task to do so. Different manufacturers have different methods and features for getting PCBs made.
The term turnkey on PCB refers to a board placed in the final product and delivered immediately.
Luckily we will walk you through the entire process of what to look at when deciding on a PCB Turnkey Service.
1、What to Look at When Looking For A PCB Turnkey Service?
The following are the most important factors when looking for a PCB Turnkey Service as a general rule of thumb.
1.1 Quality of Boards
One of the most important factors to consider is always quality; every individual or company wants the highest quality of boards going into their products.
Generally speaking, a high-quality board would have tight tolerances on crucial things. These include trace width and spacing, the position and size of all drilled holes vias, and an accurate trace copper thickness.
High-quality boards will also have a very accurate layer stack-up, especially when your design contains features like impedance-controlled traces.
1.2 Manufacturer's Technological Capabilities
The other important factor when choosing a PCB turnkey service is that your board manufacturer can manufacture your design requirements.
Some composite boards may have multiple layers, sometimes up to 24 Layers and above. Other committees may be extremely small and have fragile traces and clearance constraints. Not all manufacturers can handle such specifications.
Even a high current board that requires a high copper thickness would need to be sent out to a PCB Turnkey service that can make your board with higher than standard copper thicknesses.
Image 1: PCB turnkey service
1.3 PCB Turnkey Service--Cost
Cost is always a governing factor; the value of the PCB sometimes is a significant contributor to the value of your finished product.
To make sure your product has a sufficient profit margin, a customer must choose a PCB turnkey service that offers reasonable pricing options yet delivers excellent quality for the price.
1.4 Customizability Options
Most PCB turnkey services will offer a variety of customizability options. These can be features like the choice of solder mask color. Whether you need to pre-test the board and more unique features, such as adding serialization, filling Vias, etc.
It is essential to choose a manufacturer that can match your customizability needs. Some services might offer many more options compared to others.
A simple example here can be the choice of solder mask color; while one manufacturer may only provide two colors, others may offer more than 4-5.
1.5 PCB Turnkey Service--Lead and Delivery Times
If you are on a tight schedule, then the lead times and delivery times involved in getting a PCB made might be the most crucial factor to look at.
These times typically include when your design goes into production, gets the board made and has it shipped to the customer's doorstep.
A week or more is typical for many services to get the board made. Shipping depends on what options are available per the customer's country.
Typically, manufacturers from China are faster than products offered by local companies.
2、Why Does One Need a PCB Turnkey Service?
2.1 What is a Prototype Board?
Suppose you have a new design idea in mind, and for some reason, you don't want to breadboard or perfboard your concept, or the circuit is complicated. Then you can go for a quick prototype board that many PCB manufacturers offer.
A Prototype board has the following features:
1. The tolerances aren't exact.
2. They are only intended for quick testing purposes and to prototype designs
3. They are usually much cheaper and can be made very quickly, sometimes in just 2-3 days, compared to full production boards that take longer.
4. Sometimes, they have lower temperature grade ratings than top production boards.
5. They are manufacturing a small number. Usually less than 100.
So, in conclusion, these boards are great for hobbyists who want a quick and cheap PCB and aren't worried too much about long-term effects and durability.
2.2 PCB Turnkey Service--Turnkey and Production Boards
A full turnkey production board is usually a PCB that will go into a finished product sold in large numbers. A production board is generally made in thousands of quantities and is preceded by testing and debugging a circuit on a prototype board.
Production boards have features like:
1. High durability.
2. The tolerances for drill size, vias, and other features are stringent.
3. High-temperature ratings
4. Usually manufactured in more significant than 1000 numbers.
2.3 Environmental Factors Involving Boards
Different countries have different regulations concerning electronics and PCBs. A very well-known one is the restriction on using lead in PCBs.
So if your country has rules like these, you must go with a manufacturer who can manufacture PCBs using a lead-free process so that your product passes all qualifications.
2.4 Turnkey PCB Fabrication
Once you've decided whether you want to get a prototype board or a full production board, you can go to your manufacturer's website and upload your design/Gerber files and get the fabrication going.
Many PCB companies will often provide a full-cost quotation while placing the order on their website, which makes the process much more convenient.
The cost usually depends on the number of layers, size of the boards, copper thickness used, and many other details.
Image 2: PCB turnkey service
2.5 PCB Turnkey Service--Turnkey PCB Assembly
Other than just manufacturing PCBs, a full turnkey PCB service will also offer PCB assembly.
PCB assembly would mean getting all components in your design soldered onto the PCB.
It is an exceptional service, especially if your boards have many small surface mount components and the board needs to be mass-produced in high numbers.
The assembly is usually done using high-end pick-and-place machines and reflow ovens, which a small company may not be able to afford or have the expertise to use; hence it makes a lot of sense to get PCBs assembled by a turnkey PCB assembly service.
A demo video of the PCB assembly process can be seen here:
3、Final Steps Before Finalizing a PCB Turnkey Service
Here are the things you need to do before completing the PCB service.
3.1 Do a Sample Check
The first thing to do would be to order a small quantity of your design and review the quality.
Look at the tolerances of the drilled holes and clearance from ground planes.
Minor details like silkscreen font should also be looked at if you want a high-quality board.
3.2 PCB Turnkey Service--Test Their Feedback
It's an excellent idea to Look at what other people say about the PCB manufacturer.
Apart from the feedback section, the PCB manufacturers already have it on their websites.
One should also look at the opinion and experiences of customers on popular electronics forums and websites like Reddit.
3.3 Check Certifications
A potential customer should also look at the PCB manufacturer's certifications.
Most will have current industry certifications, but if you are in a country with stringent rules, you should double-check if your manufacturer meets all certifications governing those rules.
The manufacturing process needs certifications, but even a turnkey PCB assembly will have some standards attached to it.
3.4 Shipping Methods, Times, and Costs
Finally, it would help if you researched what your PCB turnkey service offers in shipping methods. These would include standard shipping along with options for expedited shipping also.
The costs involved in the shipping process are also significant, especially if you are looking at a small number of boards, where shipping costs can be a large part of the total cost.
4、Final Look at Some Important Questions
What happens if there is some incorrect data on my Gerber files?
Sometimes you may accidentally forget board layout rules and design a section that is impossible to manufacture; a simple example could be having thinner traces than the manufacturer's minimum capability.
The PCB company will contact you in cases like these and discuss a solution.
The bottom line here is that any changes to the Gerber data should happen only after explicit approval by the customer. Excellent communication in such cases is essential.
What is the consistency in terms of the batch-to-batch variance?
Another overlooked factor is the consistency in terms of the batch-to-batch experience.
It is often possible that PCBs from two collections might have small differences; these could be minor things like the shade of the solder mask color or something much more major, like larger tolerance values or thickness of the plating on the pads.
Sometimes these small variances may cause issues. For example, if your board is designed to be a visible element in a product, like a front panel, you wouldn't want any differences in color from batch to batch.
Image 3: PCB turnkey service
What is the availability of exotic PCB raw materials and special features?
If you are designing specialized boards, you may want unique features.
You may not want a regular FR4 material and instead want something optimized for very high-frequency designs, or you may require gold plating on certain parts of your PCB, or you want edge plating and castellation.
These factors should also be looked at if your board requires them. The PCB fabrication company can sometimes be contacted separately for special needs.
5、PCB Turnkey Service--What OurPCB Can Offer
Rapid Prototype Service:
OurPCB offers a rapid prototyping service; you can order online by submitting your designs for a low cost and get your fabricated PCB quickly.
We can produce quick turns to meet 24-hour delivery for double-sided PCBs and 48 hours for 4 to 8-layer boards.
It is also possible to complete a circuit board of up to 10 layers in 120 hours.
Quick Online Quotation System
Customers often wait for a quote and don't know the exact price tag. OurPCB offers an online quotation system, and you get to see the precise cost of your PCB.
Cash on Delivery Service
OurPCB also provides cash on delivery service; this way, customers can see the quality, feel satisfied, and pay. It is beneficial for customers who might be initially concerned about quality.
PCB Turnkey Service--Superior Materials
OurPCB uses materials and parts from certified international websites that offer guaranteed quality. No cheap or inferior product ever comes even close to your PCB. We provide only the best for our customers.
Low Cost and Promotional Offers
For first-time customers, we at OurPCB provide special discounted services. For example, for just 1$, you can get 3 PCBs.We also have various promotions at regular intervals and on festive occasions.
6、PCB Turnkey Service--Conclusion
Turnkey PCB fabrication and assembly are all about choosing the right manufacturer and utilizing the industry's latest and most accurate production processes. OurPCB offers all the above points at exceptional pricing and ensures you get a high-quality product.
For ordering and more information, visit www.ourpcb.com.