The electronics industry might seem relatively static, and many consumers make the reasonable assumption that things like printed circuit boards will remain somewhat similar from product to product. That, however, would mean that little to no innovation exists, which is far from the truth. It is why a prototype PCB is such a common request, but as any electronics firms know, it can be a cost prohibitive issue. After all, consider the problems that most companies face when in need of a single prototype PCB:
- Order minimums – The vast majority of reputable PCB makers will require a minimum order and this would necessitate investing in more than a single prototype PCB in order to get basic testing done. In other words, it will require wasted money and the prototype PCB may not perform as needed, forcing the company to sit on or discard a whole batch of PCBs.
- Lengthy production times – A cheap and fast production process is ideal for a prototype PCB as it is needed to do product testing. Few firms can deliver on a rapid-fire turnaround time, such as one to five days, and so many companies have to hit the proverbial pause button when doing prototype PCB design.
- Costly design processes – Hiring experts, buying complicated and costly software, running printed films or evaluating digital files all cost a lot of money, and are also another part of the prototype PCB process.
The entire production process of any prototype PCB or standard PCB (from generating blueprints to making the substrate, printing the layers, UV hardening, copper removal, laminations, inspections, pressing, drilling, plating, imaging, etching, soldering, and silk screening stages and testing) can be time consuming and costly. It is why companies that extend one-day turnaround times are usually greeted with the proverbial raised eyebrow and a healthy amount of concern by any firms familiar with the challenges of prototype PCB manufacturing.
However, the team at Advanced Circuits has a proven record in making the production of a prototype PCB, as well as large batch PCBs, affordable, fast, and almost fail-proof. Our cost-effective tools and protocols are a reason we rate at the top of the industry.
How to Perfect the Prototype PCB Production Process
Anyone involved in electronics or an industry that uses PCBs will be aware that the points made above are not the only factors that cause a prototype PCB to be a more complex matter than many outside the industry realize. There are also issues associated with designing PCBs of two or more layers that can make things challenging. This is why all of the solutions offered through Advanced Circuits will be of significance to designers, manufacturers and others. For example:
- No minimums – With the ability to order a single, affordable PCB, the idea of rapid-fire prototype design is made real, and with one-day turnarounds, the production or design process is not significantly halted.
- Free software – Whether it is a startup or a company financially stressed, the need to invest in high-priced and high-tech design software can be quite limiting. Advanced Circuits’ proprietary and exclusive PCB Artist software is available in an unrestricted format and entirely for free. It comes with tutorials and those who use it enjoy discounts on even single PCB orders. Clients simply download the free software and use the industry-best program to create a prototype of up to 28 layers and featuring any of the half a million parts and components contained in the software’s library. It has integrated functions that also enhance the process, including auto router options and more.
- CAM Engineer Evaluations – All products are evaluated by one of the in-house engineers long before production begins in order to spare clients any costly mistakes.
- FreeDFM evaluation software – In addition to the use of advanced design software and human evaluations, there is a simple to use option that allows a client to upload their Gerber files to the site and generate a report indicating potential showstoppers and also auto-correcting the most common errors.
- Full tech support – And while the resources above are often more than enough for many designers, Advanced Circuits also provides 24-hour tech support that features direct access to a CAM engineer to help troubleshoot prototype or standard design issues.
- Software-based ordering – Running the design through the free software also enables immediate ordering. That means that a prototype can be generated in the software, get the FreeDFM and CAM engineer review, and receive a discount on the single PCB ordered.
And when the design process is done, and the prototype is ready for full production, Advanced Circuits can make it happen at the pace required. An industry leader with more than 25 years of experience in creating prototypes and full batches of PCBs, we serve companies large and small.
Start to Finish PCB Services
With our massive production facility, and both production and assembly capabilities, Advanced Circuits ensures a premium, streamlined, and cost efficient process. In addition to our prototype-friendly services above, we also feature:
- Quality – While many in the PCB industry approve of Advanced Circuits’ array of design resources, they also appreciate the inspection process that begins with a full CAM review before any manufacturing begins as well as visual inspections of the final circuit boards produced.
- Full support – Unlike many other manufacturers, our team works with you every step of the way. We begin with a quote based on initial design spec uploads, and walk all clients through to the final production and assembly phases.
- Clear pricing – Also unlike many other producers, we do not ask for stenciling fees, setup fees, and other add-on charges.
- One-stop production – It cannot be ignored that Advanced Circuits’ “one-stop” destination for PCB design tools, production services, assembly and anything else needed for printed circuit board manufacturing is also the most cost-effective and trouble-free.
When only a prototype PCB is needed, ensure the easiest and most affordable approach, but don’t overlook the value of a US-based, one-stop provider offering comprehensive services from beginning to end. If that PCB fabrication shop offers no minimums, full support and quality production, then the choice is easy. Advanced Circuits offers all of these benefits and more. Learn about our PCB capabilities here.