Blog  /  Quick-Turn PCB: Fast-Built Circuit Boards for Rapid Prototyping

Quick-Turn PCB: Fast-Built Circuit Boards for Rapid Prototyping

Electronics and technology are advancing at a rapid pace, which is partly due to intense competition in the industry. And it would make sense if the foundation blocks of electronics (circuit boards) get built at a similar pace to match the rapid advancement. Quick-turn PCB has a fast production time and can enable you to get your products to market well before your competition. We will analyze these circuit boards and the factors affecting their turnaround time. Take a look!

What is a Quick-Turn PCB?

A quick-turn PCB is a circuit board designed, fabricated, assembled, and tested in hastened processes that take short periods. This production time can vary from 24 hours to seven days, depending on the design complexities.

Production Stages for Quick Turn PCBs

Quick-turn boards undergo three production stages.

Prototype Stage

Manufacturing a prototype PCB incorporates all the vague requirements and details required to reduce the delivery time and manufacturing costs. Additionally, the PCB prototype allows users to test how the finished product will work. It enables clients to make the required changes while manufacturers can check for faults to enhance performance and efficiency.

So this stage captures the corrections, omissions, rectifications, additions, and subtractions to ensure the production PCB has zero technical or mechanical shortcomings.

Beta Run/Pre-Production

A beta run involves building quick-turn boards in batches of hundreds to several thousand pieces. It is one of the most vital phases in the process because these PCB templates usually translate to the final product. So the manufacturer must eliminate all mistakes in this stage.


Multiplied PCBs

Multiplied PCBs


The process entails conducting electrical tests, optimizing the board layout, checking tooling arrangements, avoiding pitfalls, etc.

Full Production

The final production stage is quick-turn PCB manufacturing for market applications. Orders in this phase are higher and better than in the other steps but can take longer to complete.

Quick-turn PCB fabrication can only get to this stage once the design and engineering team goes through the previous phases to fine-tune everything and build high-quality boards.

Factors Affecting the Turnaround Time of a PCB

The time to market for quick-turn PCBs depends on several factors, such as the following.

Design and Test Procedures

Adhering to the DFM and DFT guidelines enables faster completion times, plus high-quality boards. Also, check the availability of components before including them in your design and determine the best layout strategies for compact designs. Lastly, establish clear test protocols and requirements in advance for a quick turnaround time.


Engineers designing PCBs using CAD software

Engineers designing PCBs using CAD software



Lamination Cycles

A High-Density Interconnect (HDI) board with multiple via structures requires sequential lamination cycles, a task resembling fabricating multi-layer boards. This board type increases manufacturing time, cost, and complexity.


A laminated PCB

A laminated PCB


The time required for each lamination cycle depends on the board layer count in the stack-up and the material used. Each separate layer adds an average of 4-5 days to the production process, which includes the drilling, filling, and plating time. And board manufacturers require at least one extra day for outer layer processing.

Via-in-Pad Plated Over

Via-in-pads have become typical in most PCBs because they can keep heat away from the component's lower section or save space. However, incorporating them can add at least one extra day to the cycle time.


PCB pads and vias under a microscope

PCB pads and vias under a microscope


Fabrication Drawing Specifications

A fabrication drawing indicates vital manufacturing data, such as the following.

  • IPC class
  • Mechanical dimensions
  • Via drill chart
  • Layer stack up
  • Plating thickness

So you need to know the PCB manufacturer's capabilities to close the gap between the design document and the DFM to reduce or avoid rework time delays. And always mention if the prototype follows IPC class 2 or 3 manufacturing standards.

Similarly, carry out multi-layer PCB stack-ups while considering material cost and availability. Rare materials will require more time to source, increasing the turnaround time. While at it, verify the drawing's controlled-impedance table to ensure it identifies the trace width and target impedances that require controlling to avoid delays caused by mismatched information.

Surface Finish

Surface finishing is also time-consuming because each coating requires a specific time to complete. For instance, ENIG takes around 1.5-2 hours to complete, while HASL only requires 15-20 minutes max.


Surface-finished PCB edge connectors 

Surface-finished PCB edge connectors 


So it will take more time to complete a high-quality PCB with two finishes, such as ENIG for the surface-mount connectors and hard gold for the edge connectors. Each finish gets applied separately, and the time will add up.

Assembly Drawings and Fabrication Notes

Fabrication notes and assembly drawings assist in circuit board inspection because they contain the parts list, bottom & top views, shapes, etc. So consider the following points to prevent delays during the board assembly process.

  • Adhere to the DFA guidelines while confirming zero component footprint mismatches
  • Follow kitting guidelines if supplying parts
  • Ensure silkscreen feature markings remain visible
  • Send a complete BOM that includes the manufacturer part numbers and product descriptions

Benefits of Quick Turn PCB Manufacturing

Quick-turn PCBs are better than traditional PCBs because of the following advantages.

Time Savings

Customers can leverage the time savings in the manufacturing process of these boards to gain a competitive advantage in the market by launching products faster. Additionally, quick-turn PCB fabrication encourages innovation and quick execution, enabling you to translate new ideas to the market in a short time.

Cost Savings

The process assists the DFM, resulting in a significant reduction in production costs. Additionally, the fabrication stages utilize cost-effective materials and components, which reduces costs.

Board Variety

Manufacturers usually provide multiple PCBs in their selection to meet the requirements of different users.


A PCB ready for assembly

A PCB ready for assembly


Factors To Consider When Choosing a Quick Turn PCB Manufacturing Partner

Circuit board manufacturing is an intricate process. Doing it more rapidly requires even more care, so always consider these factors before choosing your quick-turn PCB manufacturer.


Rapid prototyping & production requires experience if the end product is to be functional and of high quality. So consider manufacturers/assemblers with a good reputation in the market.


Also, consider the delivery time before handing over the designs. Some manufacturers can complete the process in 24 hours, while others can do it in a few days. But faster is not always better. The vital factor is to ensure the manufacturer's speed matches your schedule. And short production runs usually cost more.


Any quick-turn PCB manufacturer should have the equipment for fabricating high-quality boards faster. You can ask for their equipment list, but the sure way is to visit the factory and see for yourself.


A PCB in a pick-and-place machine

A PCB in a pick-and-place machine



Fabricators should pay more attention to quality than speed, so high-speed manufacturing should not compromise product quality. Ideally, this partner should have quality control process certifications.

Not only does OurPCB have multiple certifications, but we also have several high-profile clients. This combination assures you of our quality in PCB manufacturing and assembly.


Several PCBs under production in a factory

Several PCBs under production in a factory



Cost is significant because you can only go through with the deal if the quote is within your budget. Cheap might not always be best because there might be a compromise in quality. So try to get a good deal with an assurance of quality.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, quick-turn PCBs have immense benefits but can experience multiple delays due to some of the factors above. But most importantly, you should partner with a reputable manufacturer to build and assemble the boards at a reasonable cost while maintaining speed and quality. Contact us for information about our circuit board manufacturing process, and we'll be in touch.