If you have been into electronics products manufacturing, you would have already enough experience sourcing your PCBs and dealing with your PCB manufacturer. You also would have learnt that PCB manufacturing involves a series of steps. This is not something that you could get overnight. Given the fact that it is an elaborate process and that it involves various steps, the chances of things going wrong are high. You should therefore prepare a checklist before you approached your PCB manufacturer.
When you have a checklist before you, the chances of skipping crucial processes or forgetting important factors would be reduced greatly. This will pave way for a smoother sourcing cycle. Before you could prepare a checklist, you need to first understand what is involved with the entire process and what are the different steps. You are therefore required to invest enough time to educate yourself regarding the basics of PCB sourcing process.
Your checklist should include the following components. PCB prototype manufacturing is the first step in the checklist. Cross check whether your manufacturer is dealing with prototype manufacturing. Only when this box is ticked you should proceed with that manufacturer. It is not a good idea to get your prototype and mass production done by two different companies. Ideally, the company that manufactures the PCB prototype should be engaged for mass production too. Therefore, in your checklist you should have crosschecked this factor.
Does your manufacturer have their own manufacturing facility? Select only companies with their own manufacturing facility so that you will not be required to worry about the quality or about the timely delivery of the order.
What are the testing methods used by the manufacturer? All the PCBs should be tested before they are delivered to you. This should be an important item to be included in your checklist. You are also required to check how soon your manufacturer will be able to commence the manufacturing process. Do you have the committed dates from the manufacturer for PCB prototype building, sample order processing and mass production? If not you should have the manufacturer’s commitment before you have proceeded with any sort of payment. You would not want to have your funds locked with a manufacturer that is not ready to commence the manufacturing process immediately.
Is your manufacturer capable of delivering to your country and city? Do they have clearance to export to your country so that you do not have to face issues once the consignment reaches your dock?
Does the manufacturer use lead free environment for PCB manufacturing and PCB assembly? Include this factor without fail in your check list and have it confirmed before you order your PCBs.
This is the most basic checklist to help you get started in the right direction. Depending on your specific requirements and situation, you could update your checklist and keep appending it as you go. This will help you pick the best companies and get through the manufacturing process in a highly streamlined way.