Debunking the 6 Biggest Myths of Outsourcing Your PCB Prototyping Applications

More companies are beginning to recognize the numerous benefits of in-house rapid prototyping. Once executives have experienced all of the advantages–design validation, functional testing, and faster launch of new products–they are often convinced. So why don’t some businesses make the switch? Some businesses continue outsourcing their prototyping because they believe the ownership costs of in-house prototyping are prohibitive.

This article exposes the biggest myths about outsourcing and reveals the true benefits of in-house prototyping


Myth 1: Outsourcing prototyping is less expensive

Whether it’s because they have twisted their order into knots trying to determine just the right amount of volume and materials to get a “deal,” some people believe that outsourcing prototypes is less expensive than in-house development, but this is just not the case. The range of expense for outsourced prototypes runs from several hundred dollars to several thousand for more elaborate projects. This is easily three to five times the cost of developing the same designs in-house, even if your facilities only produce one to two models per month.

Return on investment will also be quick, since your designers and developers won’t have to wait for prototypes to return. In addition, there will be savings from reduced manufacturing errors due to having the ability to rapidly print many prototypes in-house.

Myth 2: Outsourcing is worth the wait

Many outsourced manufacturers advertise their turn around times as two to three days, but in reality a week per prototype is usually required–and two to three orders are often required as well. These delays take place before an order is even made, and so they aren’t accounted for by the manufacturer. Because of the expense, many companies delay ordering a prototype until they are sure it’s worthwhile.

Then there’s the necessary bureaucracy of placing the order: internal design review meetings, order placement, approval process, and others. Keep in mind that this is all just for the first order. If you’re outsourcing, you had better get it right on the first try; otherwise, you’re going to be going through the whole process two or three times for each prototype. In-house prototyping saves all this time, including the time that would have been spent pushing through the purchasing requisition, and waiting for your prototype in transit, often requiring only hours instead of days. It can even work on your schedule.

Why not set your prototype to be constructed at night or over the weekend, allowing the opportunity to prioritize the use of business hours most efficiently?

Myth 3: Outsourced prototypes are competitive

Your business can’t afford to stand still while you wait for a prototype to return from an outsourced manufacturer. Often the development cycle will have moved ahead of the prototype, rendering it already obsolete and noncompetitive by the time it arrives. The rapid production brought by in-house prototyping means your prototypes are always state of the art and available for demonstrations with designers and customers, helping you to win bids and stay competitive in a quickly moving market.

Myth 4: Outsourced prototypes are high quality

The time and capital required to outsource prototypes often means that only two or three iterations are produced before dies and molds are purchased. These limited iterations, however, can mean higher manufacturing costs due to unforeseen errors. Comparatively, in-house prototyping means many more iterations of a prototype can be created, allowing designers to perfect a design. Many businesses which have brought prototype development in-house have reported a reduction in the number of their prototype iterations by more than 10 percent.

Myth 5: Outsourcing offers complete security

When you use in-house prototyping your design and your design files never need to leave your business. So, it just makes sense. This means designs are always covered by the same consistent security protocols and are always in the hands of people who care about keeping your intellectual property protected. This is not the case with outsourcing, when a prototype has to pass through many hands getting to the manufacturer and back again. In competitive markets, a leaked design could mean catastrophe, including much more time and money needing to be spent on dealing with the leak instead of being focused on perfecting a design.

Myth 6: Outsourced models are highly accurate

How “high accuracy” is measured with regard to prototypes is determined by the state of technology. In a changing market, what was considered highly accurate five years ago very probably isn’t highly accurate today, and the quality of outsourced prototypes most likely just hasn’t kept pace with those produced in-house. Furthermore, in-house prototyping produces the finest details with laser precision–all at a lower cost than outsourcing the development of prototypes.

This article exposes some of the biggest myths about outsourced prototyping. These myths range across the entire development cycle, and outsourcing consistently comes up short when compared to the process of in-house prototyping. Now that these myths have been exposed, the benefits of in-house prototyping are very clear.

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