Although some companies choose to outsource design data to engineers, the problems of getting a workable PCB out the door can be difficult to predict and lead to costly mistakes. The first part of this two-part series will reveal some of the unexpected expenses associated with outsourcing your PCB design data, as well as some options for how you can deal with them.
Flexibility is a good thing if you’re an Olympic gymnast or Cirque du Soleil performer – and it’s essential for PCB designers and manufacturers whose prototypes and end products demand precision etching on flex PCB materials. For the past 40 years, standard mechanical PCB milling systems have been the tools of choice for straightforward milling operations, and in some cases, they’ve been great performers for flex PCB etching as well. LPKF’s top-performing ProtoMat mechanical PCB milling systems, for example, feature faster spindle speeds, low runout and high resolution for working with substrates as thin as 5 mil for single-sided designs and traces, and spacing as small as 4 mil. All good stuff, so how could it get even better? Laser.
“…There will be a rush charge for that.”
“…We should have that for you in two days.”
“…We’re a little backed up right now, but we’ll get to it ASAP.”
If you’re stuck outsourcing your prototype PCB designs, you’ve probably heard these excuses for as long as you can remember. Fortunately, now you have another option.
Fabricating single layer prototype PCBs is fairly straightforward and as a result, more and more organizations are bringing this process in-house. Quicker turnaround times, increased flexibility, and the cost savings compared to outsourcing make a compelling argument. But what happens if multi-layer prototypes are needed? The good news is that it is now possible to process advanced multi-layer designs in house as well. Best of all, the same benefits of bringing single layer fabrication in-house still apply – and when you are processing designs with up to 8-layers the payoff is exponentially bigger.
Ever wish you had a PCB prototyping tool that was like your grandfather’s Swiss Army knife? Everything you need for the job would be right at your fingertips in one machine.
Some of you may remember the days of sketching your breakthrough ideas for new products on a napkin at a diner or in a spiral-bound notebook on your desk. There it was – the fruit of your imagination on paper, which you kept in a safe place away from competitor’s eyes until you could push it through to production. Today, your imagination comes to life more often on a computer screen or tablet with a design schematic ready to send out to a third-party for rapid PCB prototyping.