Everything you need to know about contract PCB assemblies and electronics manufacturing but were too afraid to ask

As printed circuit board (PCB) assemblies are such an important part of any electrical device, choosing which company to trust to produce these for you is not an easy decision. To help you, we have put together a list of questions every customer should be asking prospective suppliers of contract PCB assembly services.

What are the benefits of working with a contract PCB assembly supplier?

There are many benefits to partnering with a contract electronics manufacturer. The cost of setting up an in-house facility to supply these critical components can be steep, as can recruiting staff with up-to-date skills and knowledge of building quality, reliable and durable PCB assemblies that will meet the requirements of your product or products. A contract PCB manufacturer removes those costs from you and provides other benefits, such as established relationships with component suppliers that bring cost efficiencies, speedy turnaround times and support when things go wrong, as they do at times.

How do you ensure your assembly meets my requirements?

Before we prepare any quotes, we have in-depth conversations and consultations with you to ensure we fully understand what you require. We then use our sophisticated computer system and highly experienced staff to determine exactly which resources will be required to meet your needs and give you a timeframe for how quickly this can be achieved. By planning our activities in this way, we can ensure we have all the right equipment, materials and skilled staff in place to create the PCB assembly that meets your requirements exactly.

How do you ensure you have the right components?

Our computerised system allows us to source the correct components from the best suppliers all over the world. Detailed resource planning ensures that we order in everything we need to create the PCB assemblies you require within the specified timeframe.

How do you accurately place very small components?

We use state-of-the art automated component placement machines, which are capable of accurately placing the vast majority of the components currently on the market.

What type of solder do you use?

The type of solder we use depends on your requirements. We can use leaded or non-leaded varieties depending on which is most suitable for the application.

How are your assemblies protected from the elements?

Depending on the type of application, we provide coating or potting to protect the PCB assemblies from all kinds of damaging elements, such as water ingress and other contaminants, through to providing protection to signals in an electronic circuit. In-house we coat the PCB assemblies using FC742 Certonal Coating and various potting solutions to protect the boards but can use other materials if necessary, by outsourcing to our approved suppliers.

How do you make sure your assemblies are up to standard?

We have a continuous programme of updating our quality assurance systems. For visual inspection, we use Automatic Optical Inspection, a quick and highly effective way to check that everything is correctly in place and soldered. Additionally, we conduct manual visual inspections using microscopes, which can be configured for 10x to 50x magnification. When we are satisfied with the visual inspections, we subject the PCB assemblies to a wide variety of functional tests to ensure they work exactly as required.

Why are you more expensive than some other PCB assemblers?

We are more expensive per unit than contract PCB assemblers who turn out large numbers of simple PCB assemblies, because we specialise in highly sophisticated and tailored PCB assemblies, which are generally required in smaller numbers. Additionally, our processes are more complex, our components higher quality and our staff more highly trained.

Our long-standing customers, all of whom have very high standards and complex specifications, say they choose our electronic manufacturing services because they are guaranteed reliable, durable PCB assemblies which fulfil their needs and benefit from the knowledge, expertise and customer service of our skilled team.

MPE Electronics has an excellent reputation for delivering quality of contract electronics manufacturing services. Contact us now on 01825 764822 or info@mpe-electronics.co.uk to find out how our contract PCB assembly expertise could benefit you.