In this fast-paced world, saving time in business and every other activity that matters to life has become more crucial than ever. Almost all activities are now operating on the fast lane, even PCB fabrication and that is why you need a quick turn PCB to beat time and tight deadlines.
A quick turn PCB is a printed circuit board that is designed, manufactured, and assembled within the shortest time possible while maintaining a high quality of the product. In many cases, a quick turn PCB turns out to be the best solution for meeting challenging timelines, tight schedules, and quality production of high-grade PCB products.
This article examines in detail the concept of PCB quick turn and how it is benefitting many companies as well as helping them achieve their business goals. You will also discover why it offers excellent product quality and good turnaround times.
Quick Turn in PCB Production Services
The concept of quick turn in PCB fabrication entails the PCB manufacturing process that helps circuit board manufacturers to conclude job orders faster or finish projects quicker without compromising on quality. Consequently, users and customers alike can easily meet up with time and channel their energies to other important projects.
Since time is of the essence, the entire quick turn PCB manufacturing process can be carried out quickly usually ranging from 24 hours to 48 hours or more, based on how difficult the project might be. Usually, the level of complexity is influenced by several factors such as surface finish, mounting techniques, design specifications, and more.
Important projects with short lead times mean that the clients need to look for a dependable PCB producing company with the most updated technology, state-of-the-art equipment, and accurate mechanisms. Expert quick turn PCB fabrication companies will provide you with many packages to choose from depending on the size and shape of the board, circuitry arrangement, and completion time.
PCB Quick Turn Manufacturing Process
What does the quick turn manufacturing process entail?
The manufacturing process is pretty simple. It requires the PCB designer to prepare the design and send it to the manufacturer in a Gerber file format. Gerber files make it possible for easy and secure communication of all PCB information. The Gerber format is the existing quality file format on which PCB data are transferred from the designer to the producer.
In most cases, the client sends the Gerber files to the company by email. However, most users prefer to fill out an online PCB order form and submit it to the company’s email while attaching the Gerber files. Responsible quick turn PCB manufacturers respond to client’s inquiries in less than 24 hours.
So, the PCB fabrication company receives the PCB design and reviews it by conducting a Design for Manufacturability (DFM) examination on it. This review is a way to prove that the technical and material specifications meet the design requirements as well as the standards set by IPC (Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Circuits).
Thereafter, the company sends out an instant quote following the approval of the Gerber files and PCB order. Then, the creation and assembly of the quick turn circuit boards begin in earnest.
Stages of Production
There are three distinct stages involved in the making of the final quick turn PCB, namely:
- Prototype Stage
One of the major stages of creating and assembling PCB products is to manufacture a PCB prototype. Therefore, these printed boards can be prototyped to further minimize costs and time. Prototype circuit boards are manufactured by incorporating all vague details and sets of requirements on the board.
PCB prototype boards are made in the early stages of production to allow users to test how the final product will work. They are used for inspection by allowing clients to make changes to them based on their needs. On the other hand, quick turn PCB prototypes often help manufacturers check if there are faults in the original circuit board, thereby helping them improve efficiency and performance.
In other words, the PCB prototyping stage captures all the omissions, corrections, subtractions, additions, and rectifications of features to ensure that the final product has no mechanical or technical shortfall. Therefore, enough time is invested in prototype testing to streamline production and ensure efficiency.
Quick turn PCB manufacturers leverage different PCBs such as visual models, proof-of-concept prototypes, and working prototypes to show clients a precise idea of the final product’s functionality. Consequently, guesswork is eliminated in the process and manufacturers save the time they spend on explanations, reworks, and redesigns.
- Pre-Production or Beta Run Stage
This stage of production involves the creation of quick turn boards in batches usually from hundreds to several thousand. It is often the most important phase because templates of PCBs often translate to the final product. So, all the mistakes are supposed to be resolved at this stage.
In the pre-production phase, all the issues that come up in the final fabrication stage often show up. The beta run stage becomes a correction ground for optimizing board layout, conducting an electrical test, avoiding pitfalls, and checking all the tooling arrangements; giving room for more accuracy checks.
When a customer moves from the PCB prototyping stage to the pre-production stage, they will witness positive changes in quality as a result of the variables that emerge from the manufacturing processes.
- Full Production Stage
The PCB full or standard manufacturing stage involves the final PCB fabrication for market applications. Full production begins as soon as any possible manufacturing factor issue or all the errors have been taken care of.
Orders in this assembly phase can be substantially higher and bigger than what obtains in the other phases of production. However, such orders can take a longer time to complete. In this stage, customers usually demand higher volumes of quick turn PCBs for an emergency order.
As soon as the PCB fabricating companies conclude everything about design and data, customers will anticipate large volume orders of printed circuit boards at the most rapid pace. No matter the level of complexity involved in the creation process, the final product can reach the right client within the shortest time possible, mostly within 24 hours.
Provided the design and engineering team has gone through all the preceding stages of producing PCBs, there is that certainty of having an effective production and producing high-quality PCBs for quick delivery.
Technologies for Component Assembly
The quick turn PCB fabrication process was initially applicable to low-volume production and rapid PCB prototyping. But now, they are applied in every phase of electronic product development such as the initial concept design, functional prototypes, manufacturing of the final product, and quick market delivery.
Quick turn technology significantly reduces both the creation and lead time that the usual end-to-end PCB fabrication needs. As such, board manufacturers can easily meet pressing deadlines without much ado. At the component assembling phase, OEMs can use the following technologies or mounting techniques to create high-quality PCBs.
- Surface-Mount Technology (SMT)
This is where the electrical components are mounted directly on the board’s surface. They are fastened with soldering materials for solidity and effective communication with the board.
- Through-Hole Assembly (THA)
In through-hole assembly, the electrical components are inserted or mounted into the holes drilled in the bare circuit board. They are then soldered with a metal solder which makes the connection firm.
- Single or Double-Sided Placement
- Mixed Assembly
Here, the quick turn PCB engineer combines both the surface-mount technique and through-hole assembly to produce PCBs of higher configuration.
In all these techniques, the team of engineers ensures that the PCB is tested before packaging and final delivery to the client.
Benefits of Quick Turn PCBs
A quick turn printed circuit board ensures that the client has their PCB quicker than the conventional time. Besides this usefulness, there are other good reasons why quick turn circuit boards are a better option to choose in today’s world of evolving electronic technology. The three major benefits are:
A time-saving advantage: PCB creation offers quick turnaround times and customers leverage this benefit to gain a competitive advantage in the market. It leads to innovation and quick execution of new ideas translating to quick time for sales and the attendant profit.
Cost-saving advantage: Another great benefit of opting for quick turn printed boards is the significant reduction in production cost as assembling requires a limited period and a minimum trace time. Furthermore, the fabrication process cuts costs especially when cost-effective materials or components are employed in production thereby bringing down the overall price.
Circuit board variety advantage: The printed circuit board manufacturer is aware that the customer has different PCB needs and requirements and they strive to satisfy them all. So, they offer the gamut of PCBs to meet those demands.
Some other benefits of quick turn PCBs include:
- They can withstand unpleasant environmental conditions and are also resistant to heat and undulating vibrations including other physical factors. This critical advantage is possible because most quick turn PCBs are manufactured with flexible boards making them easily bendable and occupying less space.
- Quick turn PCBs are largely applied in the IoT arena. The compact nature of boards makes them the ideal choice for meeting the growing demand for small-sized communication devices.
- On a general note, quick turn boards help board engineers optimize time-to-market capacities for the final product. This helps to manufacture highly technical PCBs in a reduced time frame.
- Quick turn supports prototyping and accelerates the speed of producing a prototype PCB. Additionally, it encourages research and development. This option allows manufacturers to boost their time-to-market strength.
- In the same vein, prototype PCBs help to find and fix faults in the early stage of production. With prototyping, more features can be added to increase performance and efficiency.
The demand for quick turn printed circuit boards has been on the increase in recent times. Many OEMs and electronic device manufacturers are moving in the direction of quick-turn PCB fabrication. A quick turn PCB is the latest innovation that is changing the electrical and electronic landscape for both manufacturers and customers alike. Its advantages are numerous and far outweigh the disadvantages.
It can save money and manufacturing time while the PCB prototypes can assist in eliminating costly mistakes by detecting errors that could emerge after the final production. Working with an experienced quick turn PCB manufacturer who has shown consistency in PCB assembly services and the capacity to deliver is the surest way to have a high-quality PCB delivered with a quick turnaround time.