To be successful in the realm of printed circuit board design and production, there are many factors that need to be accounted for. One of the biggest? The speed of PCB manufacturing. As Jonathan Becher, chief digital officer at SAP, recently asserted on LinkedIn, time to market has become a leading indicator of success, surpassing even return on investment. Companies need to launch their products as quickly as possible, which makes quickturn a critical element of PCB fabrication. And, to a significant degree, achieving quickturn for PCBs comes down to design.
Our previous article in the Becoming a PCB Master series focused on Designing for Assembly. In this entry, we'll take a look at another aspect that PCB Design Masters fully understand: why quickturn is so important, and how to design PCBs with quickturn in mind.
Becoming a Quickturn Master
Without any further ado, here are four tips for becoming a PCB Master in the realm of quickturn.
1. Find the Right Partner
This is a topic we've covered in a previous post, but it's so important it's worth highlighting again—especially in the context of becoming a PCB Master for quickturn. Many PCB designers overlook just how big a role the PCB fabrication partner will play. This is especially true when it comes to delivering circuit boards quickly without sacrificing quality. PCB Masters know that when they're evaluating PCB manufacturing companies that deliver quickturn, they should look for:
- Location—For U.S. companies, a U.S.-based PCB manufacturer will significantly cut down turnaround time compared to PCB fabrication firms based in China, Japan, or elsewhere.
- Reputation—Does this manufacturer deliver quality PCBs on a consistent basis? If so, its reputation will reflect that level of performance.
- Customer Support—A manufacturing partner that offers industry-leading customer support and expertise can address and resolve design questions quickly and efficiently, improving quickturn results.
2. Look for Self-Service
"Self-service ordering systems enable designers to receive a quote immediately."
One powerful means of reducing turnaround time is by taking matters into your hands as much as possible. Self-service ordering delivers precisely this capability. Offered by a number of PCB manufacturers, including Sierra Circuits, a self-service ordering system enables PCB designers to designate whatever number of layers they require for their PCBs, enter additional specs and design elements, and receive a quote immediately, all without any back-and-forth with a PCB manufacturing representative.
Of course, in order for this to be a viable option, you need to have a great deal of knowledge on PCB design. At the same time, the most effective self-service PCB ordering systems will have automated verification system checks which can evaluate and provide feedback on a given design instantly and automatically. This helps ensure no serious design issues are present before moving forward toward PCB fabrication.
3. Avoid Common Mistakes
This is another issue we've covered in greater depth. In addition to taking advantage of expert-level tricks of the trade, becoming a PCB master is primarily about avoiding mishaps. That's especially important when it comes to quickturn. Any mistakes will need to be addressed before PCB manufacturing begins, which can delay delivery. Following tip #1 and finding a PCB fabrication firm that offers great customer support can help reduce any complications in your designs, further speeding up your quickturn capabilities.
4. Prioritize Communication
Lastly, PCB Masters know that you can only achieve quickturn if you make communication a top-level priority. Communication needs to be constant throughout the design and production processes. Specifically, you'll need to have open lines of communication with any stakeholders within your company to ensure your PCB design adequately addresses the needs of not just the circuit board, but also the product as a whole. You'll also need to reach out to and work with experts at the PCB manufacturing company to make sure they both understand and have the means to deliver on your design specifications.