Printed circuit board assembly prototyping: machine assembly vs. hand assembly

- Apr 26, 2017-

  Printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) is heart and brain of most electronic devices. When PCB was first invented in the 1950s, circuit boards were exclusively hand assembled and limited in scope, lacking the connective properties of multilayer PCBs.

  The contemporary standard for PCB assembly is automated machine assembly, but some electronics makers or hobbyists still choose to hand assemble their boards for low-volume prototyping. This approach could be efficient especially when repeat verifications are needed, though it could lead to inconsistency problems. If machine assembled prototyping is still needed for mass production verification, this could prolong the production lead time.


1. Consistency and accuracy

  Automated machine-assembly preserves likeness across every unit produced, virtually abolishing the variations that would otherwise result from hand-assembly. This consistency makes it easy to create additional working copies of the PCB if ever requested at a later point.

Furthermore, developing a partnership with a PCB assembly partner helps capture and store changes or specific criteria for future use, i.e, PFMEA (process failure mode and effect analysis). In return, Manufacturability review by Electronics Contract Manufacturing partner helps to improve Design for Manufacture (DFM) performance


2. Shorten produced development cycle

  The time investment for hand assembly ranges from a day to a full week, depending on the board’s complexity. By partnering with an EMS(Electronics Manufacturing Service) provider, not only grants you the peace of mind in knowing that your board will be returned in pristine condition, but frees your schedule for other aspects of design and production. Multiple steps can be completed in parallel, saving production time and money. Besides, machine assembly on prototypes can also verify the manufacturing process and save the production lead time when you are about moving to volume production.


In conclusion

  Owning to automated machine assembly, the PCB assembly services are now available from the professional EMS provider on small-volume orders.

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