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Cost-effective Production-Prototype Manufacturing

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Lightning, Jun 15, 2017.

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  1. Lightning

    Lightning

    45
    4
    Oct 12, 2013
    Hey All,

    I have a few product development projects that I am working on at the moment. I am passed the strip-board stages and I am ready to start with some production prototypes. I have designed them around some nicely tooled enclosures which I will be able to show our prospective customer-base before committing to EMC testing etc.

    I put together some design files and a bill of materials for assembly and sent them off to a few PCB manufacturers to quote on a hand-full of low-complexity 2-layer boards. They got back to me recently with their respective breakdowns and I was quite shocked to see how much they were asking for.

    The range I received was from £650 to an astounding £2500. However, I can understand to some degree that this is because my quantities are so low and they have to make the stencils etc., the unit cost drops dramatically with orders of upwards of 100 which is acceptable.

    My question is, how does everyone approach their respective prototyping and is it possible to save on expenses like this?

    I am expecting to go through a few design iterations which does not look to be at all cost-effective as it stands. I could avoid assembly costs initially by either using through-hole or certain surface-mount packages which could be soldered by hand but some SMT packages simply cannot be done by hand, such as LGAs, so I am pretty stumped at the moment.

    Does anyone have any experience regarding this problem or novel solutions that they would like to share, any help would be greatly appreciated?
     
  2. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    Your post does not explain exactly what they were quoting for. If it is just making the PCB from your Gerber files, that is way out of the league. You didn't state the size, but you can get 10 copies of a 200mm x 200mm board for $10 from many different Chinese manufacturers.

    If, on the other hand, they were designing the PCB, manufacturing it and assembling it, the quotes are probably low.


    Bob
     
    Lightning likes this.
  3. AnalogKid

    AnalogKid

    2,482
    715
    Jun 10, 2015
    Yes.
    No. Prototyping is expensive, and the more sophisticated the component packaging, the more expensive it is. If I could get a Lattice CPLD in a 40-pin DIP I'd be a happy guy. Were any test fixtures or x-ray inspection included in the prices?

    Aries and Ironwood(?) make TQFP-to-PTH adapters.

    ak
     
    Lightning likes this.
  4. Lightning

    Lightning

    45
    4
    Oct 12, 2013
    Hey,

    Thanks for your input guys, it's good to know it's not just me...

    Bobk, my boards could easily fit into a 200mm x 200mm area so I will consider using Chinese manufacture in the future for any bare-board designs, that will certainly save me some money during prototyping. It seems I can't do much about assembly though.

    AK, thanks for sharing your experience. No testing was included in the price.

    Regards.
     
  5. BobK

    BobK

    7,682
    1,688
    Jan 5, 2010
    Whoops, I meant 50x50mm or 2x2 inch, not 200mm.

    Bob
     
  6. Lightning

    Lightning

    45
    4
    Oct 12, 2013
    Hi Bobk,

    No worries, it seems going Chinese for boards and assembly is a lot cheaper overall, especially for low batches.

    I will have to get a quote to confirm, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was a better solution to my problem.

    I will probably then use local manufacturers for large scale batches for more quality control and better lead times.

    Thanks again.
     
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