Four Best Practices in Electronics Manufacturing

March 15, 2021

Loss of market share and warranty returns become the norm when manufacturing issues become common. Printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) production challenges and supply chain problems can destroy the reputation of a company beyond repair. 

A design for manufacturability protocol is essential in order to avoid such issues from developing. The reliability and quality of supply chains can be reviewed via a series of best practices. 

The best practices that are implemented will also reduce the number of defects, although such practices work best when they are employed early in the design process. Here, we will discuss four best practices in electronics manufacturing, as well as prototype productions in Toronto.

What exactly is design for manufacturability?

Design for manufacturability serves as the process used to ascertain that a design can be fabricated by a supply chain with minimal to no defects. Overlooking the design for manufacturability process during the early stages of the design process may lead to serious issues that cannot be rectified.

The end result is increased expenses, as well as several design iterations in order to solve the issues. Design for manufacturability should be implemented as early as possible, and proactively as well. Spending resources on the front end in order to quickly find issues on the back end will save large sums of money in the long run.

Industry Standard Design Rules

Industry standards that already exist, such as ISO, JEDEC, and IPC, should be leveraged whenever possible. They will serve as a solid starting point for a design for manufacturability review.

The standards that are employed are also tried-and-true in the vast majority of cases. They will provide some much needed insight into reliability tests and design practices for printed circuit board assemblies and printed circuit boards.

There are several IPC test methods and standards that you can use. For example, you can employ IPC-2221, which is the Generic Standard on Printed Board Design. You can also use IPC-A-610, which is the Accessibility of Electronic Assemblies, or the IPC-A-600, which is the Accessibility of Printed Boards.

As for the Test Methods Manual for IPC, it is broken down into many sections, including Chemical, Visual, Electrical, Environmental, and Dimensional test approaches.

However, it is important to remember that standards can sometimes be backwards looking. Your specific design may involve unique issues that may not be covered by industry standard design rules. Thus, collaboration among your reliability, quality, manufacturing, purchasing, and design teams is essential throughout the process.

Design Review

Next, you should perform a design review. The design team that conducts the formal design review must be insulated from the manufacturer. However, you can opt for either an in-house team on an outsourced team.

In any event, the formal design review should consist of an evaluation of the application, system, and/or product in question. The components must be reviewed carefully in order to ensure that they all perform to optimal industry standards.

In performing a formal design review, you will ensure that you are developing an optimal design and successful product before the prototype process has begun. By doing so, you will expedite time to the market, which is a must in a competitive industry. You will also reduce operational costs and save business resources in the long run.

Design and Simulation Software

You can make use of simulation software in order to have a better grasp of failure sources that are related to post-reflow manufacturability. For example, you can evaluate an in-circuit test (or ICT) using a state-of-the-art simulation software.

ICT is commonly used during the PCBA manufacturing process in order to check for defects and other anomalies. However, ICT may lead to component failure as well as excessive board flexure.

There are tools to perform an ICT analysis that will evaluate units that are at elevated risk of overstress. These tools can also compare ICT test and PCB design changes rapidly, including reducing displacements and test point loads.

Adjusting test point locations are also possible, and moving or adding board supports can be evaluated in order to determine which board components are the most at risk during the in-circuit test.

Simulations are also useful when assessing rigid flex technology. Many laptops and smartphones that have small or curved form factors will make use of rigid flex technology. However, design changes may be difficult for such devices, and rigid flex technology tends to involve more manufacturing steps.

Fortunately, simulation software can be used in order to optimize the design of your prospective product. You can also use simulation software to determine many potential failure red flags that may result.

Process and Materials Audit

The last step in the design for manufacturing procedure involves a process and materials audit. You should perform an audit on your printed circuit board manufacturer if possible. You should also perform an audit on their suppliers and their contract manufacturers.

In fact, we would recommend that you conduct an onsite audit in order to have a better understanding of their process as well as to review their materials. Large production runs are very serious business, and should be treated as such.

You can also make use of many audit services, such as a supplier assessment, in order to reduce stress. A supplier assessment will evaluate the technologies and components that are used by suppliers. 

The assessment will ensure that their technologies and components meet industry standards without compromise for peace of mind. It will also confirm that your product will not have any reliability problems that were brought on by manufacturing defects or errors.

Circuits Central

If you would like to learn more about prototype productions, or require prototype productions, then please visit our website. We can also be reached at 1-888-821-7746 for a free, no obligation quote and consultation if you would prefer to discuss your best practices needs over the phone.

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