MacroFab, Inc.

Printed Circuit Board Manufacturers Are Changing the Game

By The MacroFab Team  |  September 6, 2016

When most people think of manufacturing, they imagine a big factory with smokestacks spewing out gray haze, or maybe an auto plant with half-formed cars moving from station to station. But as a reader of this blog, you know that there’s a very different side to manufacturing. The highly technical and specialized work done by printed circuit board manufacturers.

While PCB manufacturing has been going on for decades, it is only recently that manufacturers are changing the way they operate to be as modern and innovative as the products they produce.

The New Rules

This new breed of printed circuit board manufactures is creating new standards for competition. To earn the business of Kickstarter creators, makers, and other entrepreneurs, PCB manufacturers will need to abide by a new set of rules.

#1 – Getting a price should be easy and instant

#2 – Inventors should have complete visibility into the progress of their project

#3 – Prototyping should be painless, quick and inexpensive

#4 – The printed circuit board manufacturer, not the inventor, should do the heavy lifting of parts sourcing

#5 – Printed circuit boards should be manufactured on-shore at competitive prices

#6 – PCB developers should not be gouged over small order quantities

#7 – Turn around time should be quick, never measured in months

#8 – PCB manufacturing should be just one of a menu of services that includes device assembly, inventory management, and fulfillment

#9 – Wherever possible, the PCB manufacturer should buy parts in bulk and pass the savings on to all customers

#10 – It should be easy to connect the PCB manufacturer’s platform to the maker’s ERP or e-commerce system for seamless order fulfillment

Picking the Winners

It’s up to the hardware engineering community to decide which printed circuit board manufactures are doing what it takes to win. PCB assembly services that don’t adjust to the new playbook will be quickly lapped by those that align their business practices with the needs of today’s innovators.

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