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Manufacturing and Selling Printed Circuit Boards

Many different items are manufactured in the United States today, and indeed the manufacturing sector is truly vast. Everything from cars to toasters to furniture to kids’ toys are regularly produced in factories and workshops across the United States, but on particularly important arena is building goods for electronic devices. On such example is printed circuit boards, or PCBs. Circuit board assembly is done when skilled human engineers and automated production lines together create new designs for circuit boards, make prototypes, then launch the board assembly process to make many thousands of them. PCB fabrication is a delicate process, but also quite important. Any PCB manufacturer may find itself with a lot demand for its products, and some wholesale PCBs may be highly advanced and multi-layered. Such an assembly house may offer PCB quotes to interested buyers, and those PCB quotes may vary based on the number and type of circuit boards requested.

For those not aware, a sales quote is the manufacturer’s estimated costs of producing and supplying an item. This cost will vary from case to case, since different customers may require different quantities of different items that may be made in different ways from each other. There is no one-size-fits-all sales price for PCB supplies, since the circuit boards vary in materials and complexity. Thus, interested wholesale buyers such as computer factories or calculator makers will ask for a PCB quote, and that business customer may ask for PCB quotes from several different makers to find the best deal.

Building the Printed Circuit Boards

These printed circuit boards are central to making any modern electronic device. Not only computers and laptops, but also calculators, cars, and video game consoles make use of them, and they are nearly universal in this sense. That, in turn, leads to a robust industry of making and designing those PCBs, and some wholesale buyers may ask for very advanced models of them. Many PCBs are in fact multi-layered, and they can have four, six, eight, 10, or more layers to them, depending on their intended use later. In fact, some of the most advanced PCBs may have as many as 42 layers in them.

how are these PCBs made? The process of creating one starts with a skilled human engineer using advanced software to design the layout of a new PCB model, and this will take some time and effort. Once a design is crafted, physical prototypes will be made first, and given the power and importance of PBCs, a number of prototypes will be used before mass production will begin. Aberdeen Group has conducted some surveys on the topic of PCB manufacturing, and the Group found that an average simple PCB will require nearly 11.6 physical prototypes before mass production can begin. And more advanced models may need as many as 16.1 physical prototypes. Meanwhile, around 52% of all survey respondents said that increasing product complexity was their top design problem to solve in order to improve their manufacturing process.

Once a prototype proves that a model is ready for mas production, automated devices will create them. It is possible to produce these printed circuit boards by hand, but this process is slow and error-prone when compared to an automated line. In fact, just one automated line can solder and create more components than 50 human operators, and with more consistency in quality, too. Some PCB assemblers can boast a standard turn-time of just five days or under, and this is 75% faster than the industry average. Those numbers would not be possible with human operators.

Even with automated lines, great care should be taken when making PCBs. These items are sensitive to heat, so engineers will carefully program the robotic assemblers to use steady heat levels when soldering. Until a temperature of 160 degrees Celsius is reached, the soldering device should only raise the temperature by one or two degrees Celsius during work. And these boards are delicate, with spaces between electrical conducting paths being just 0.04 inches, or one millimeter, apart. And in theory, transistors may keep miniaturizing until they are just one nanometer across, or just the thickness of 10 atoms pressed together.

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