Most companies that manufacture electronic devices outsource PCB production to larger external companies. The companies that get these contracts have special tech and an adequate workforce to handle mass PCB production. However, not all companies offer full-on comprehensive PCB Assembly. Some just handle parts of the manufacturing process. If such a case occurs, the electronics manufacturing company must work with more than one Subcontractor to get the job done. But is working with a Subcontractor necessary? Is it beneficial to the electronics manufacturing company? And does it slow down or speed up the manufacturing process? To gain answers to this question, follow along as we immerse ourselves into the world of PCBs.
What does Subcontract PCB Assembly entail?
Before diving into what subcontract PCB assembly entails, let us first understand the term subcontracting to get us on track.
Subcontracting: It is the act of outsourcing or assigning a task and part of its obligations under a set contract to another firm/party.
Therefore, to subcontract PCB assembly involves the act of outsourcing PCB production to external firms.
What does the Subcontractor do?
The Subcontractor employs specialists who have great PCB manufacturing knowledge. They also have high-tech equipment they utilize to manufacture PCBs in bulk using little time.
Subcontractors offer their clients adequate support at:
- The designing stage
- Through-hole and surface assembly
- Conformal coating
- Detailed quality control
What’s more, subcontractors might provide their clients with detailed documentation. The documentation is pretty useful as it provides details on the processes that occurred during production.
Once the manufacturing process is over, the Subcontractor moves on to the next stage, or shall we call it the inspection stage. In this stage, the Subcontractor utilizes a specialist to test and ensure that the PCBs are working properly before shipment. Reliable subcontractors carry out their testing based on international standards. They also check product quality, which is essential for companies looking to keep their clients. Remember, it only takes one bad shipment for things to go sideways, and manufacturers cannot take that chance. That is why this stage is pretty special.
Thanks to the inspection stage, clients can be sure that they will receive quality PCBs with little to no defects in their order. The result of this stage is durability and reliability, and an added bonus of limited complaints. In addition, subcontractors have reduced operating costs and gain maximum profits when this line holds.
When is it convenient to work with more than one contractor?
Working with multiple subcontractors affects the PCBs quality drastically. That is because, in this scenario, it becomes difficult for clients to verify every production stage. It especially gets harder when these subcontractors are working on one device. We hence recommend that you opt for multiple contractors only when the contract size gets too big for one contractor to handle.
Large subcontractors who can handle full-on PCB manufacturing always consider order profitability. Therefore smaller companies that order PCBs in lower quantities might sometimes face neglection. Hence even when working with one Subcontractor, always check on their reputation first. Fortunately, reputable subcontractors rarely look down on small or upcoming companies.
Another reason that would make a company deal with more than one Subcontractor is the need to generate a pretty specific product. For example, PCBs having THT assembly (through-hole) require special attention and manual intervention. Therefore, companies might opt to work with specialists who deal with manual assembly.
Why should you consider Subcontract PCB Assembly?
Are you looking to work with a subcontractor or subcontractors on your PCB project? Here are some reasons as to why this is a good idea:
Production speed and Accuracy
One great advantage of using Subcontractors instead of in-house manufacturing is that production speed goes up.
Subcontractors take months building and optimizing their machines to boost production speeds. On achieving this feat, their machines turn into PCB manufacturing beasts. They replicate PCBs in minutes, making mass production easy to achieve. High production rates also bring in high profits to the Subcontractor in terms of many units sold at once. Hence the price of one PCB becomes relatively less expensive.
Minimum time spent in the designing stage
The designing stage of a PCB is crucial as it dictates how the PCB will work. Messing up with the design renders the PCB useless.
The design procedure is labor-intensive for Subcontractors. You might be wondering how this even relates. They must ensure that the design is compatible with the components required. By letting the subcontractors work on the PCB design, you can save them a lot of production time.
If you want to expand your company, subcontractors can help you out. If you are wondering how, then follow along to gain the answer.
Do you know how companies like to produce product lines consisting of different models? If you work with subcontractors, they can mass produce your PCBs in a custom manner. Once you get the PCBs, you can make slight modifications to create a custom product line.
In doing so, you can develop many products using less time, boosting your company’s expansion.
Access to the high-quality material
Most PCBs found in the market are built out of low-quality materials to reduce production costs. However, working with subcontractors can help you find the best material to produce your PCB. What’s more, they can attain this material at a really low price as they purchase the material in bulk.
Disadvantages of working with subcontractors
The initial investment is relatively higher
Outsourcing comes at a cost. Hence if you are looking to work with a subcontract PCB assembly company, you had better be ready to invest heavily in the project.
Lack of total control
When you are producing PCBs “in-house,” your company is fully controlling the manufacturing procedure. But once you outsource the production of PCBs to subcontractors, they take over control of this process. So you might be involved in the production process, but you will not have total control.
Subcontract PCB assembly is essential for companies looking to mass produce electronics at low costs. In doing so, these companies have a higher profit margin while at the same time producing quality products. Of course, it has its cons and pros, but overall the pros outweigh the cons. We hope that this article has provided you with all the answers you might have had regarding how to subcontract PCB assembly and why it is necessary. And as per the question, should you work with a subcontractor to develop your PCB? We recommend that you do, as far as the terms meet your requirements and needs.