Most electronics startups find the conventional ways of sourcing PCBs to be cumbersome due to costly, slow, and error-prone processes. Fortunately, the option of turnkey PCB assembly is now available to businesses that would like to receive circuit boards for products in the shortest lead time. If you want a competitive edge in the market, you need PCBs that are ready to use so that you can develop, test, and introduce new products before your competitors do. And that’s where turnkey PCB assembly makes a difference.
This post will break down what turnkey PCB assembly actually means and the benefits it brings for startups.
What Is Turnkey PCB Assembly?
The word ‘turnkey’ refers to an item or service that is ready for immediate use. In the PCB industry, turnkey assembly implies a service where the supplier manages all aspects of the PCB project. The vendor procures the components and parts as well as assembles the printed circuit board. Turnkey PCB solutions make use of powerful machinery and cloud-based technology to develop PCB units cost-effectively and at a faster pace than startups can achieve on their own. Put simply, they give you more time and freedom to focus on creating products while the supplier handles the whole of the PCB project.
You might also come across the term ‘full turnkey’ – this means that the PCB supplier is a one-stop shop for sourcing a fully-functional PCB. Full turkey PCB assembly is a complete solution that includes PCB fabrication, DFM checking, parts procurement, AOI Inspection, circuit board assembly, and shipping.
The other type is partial turnkey PCB assembly, where a startup outsources only part of the PCB assembly process. With partial assembly solutions, you will have some involvement in purchasing, sorting, and packaging parts and components for shipment to the manufacture. This type of PCB assembly service is best for companies that already have most of the required PCB assembly parts on hand. It can save money and significantly expedite the manufacturing process.
Advantages of Turnkey PCB Assembly
Using turnkey PCB assembly offers a wealth of advantages to startups. The main ones include:
1. Single point of contact
With traditional PCB assembly, startups have to quote and verify their PCB design files with various suppliers in different phases. Having to coordinate with multiple vendors can easily overwhelm a small business, as only one error or change can create a ripple effect of delays and low-quality items across the PCB supply chain. In contrast, when you onboard a turnkey PCB assembly partner, you only have to manage a single point of contact. This means you can initiate immediate order changes with one phone call to the vendor who’s in charge of all phases.
2. High-quality product
Since turnkey PCB assemblers often work with professional PCB manufacturers, you can expect good board quality and fine soldering on surface mount components. Professional assembly manufacturers use solder resist, high-quality laminates, and silk-screen techniques. Although you can reduce costs by forgoing silk-screen printing, it is more impressive to have your startup’s logo and name printed on the board. Also, expert assembly of SMT components leverages a reflow oven and precise automated placement for melting solders. The results are perfect solder joints, even on the smallest of microprocessors, or components with closely spaced pins. The high-quality product is sure to impress investors and venture capitalists.
3. Early error detection
A major dollar-saving benefit of turnkey PCB assembly is the ability to detect issues in the early phases of the project (i.e., before the circuit boards are installed into the products). You contribute to the process by submitting a netlist file to the assembler. Once you do, the assembler will examine the specifications to ensure they match the application and spot potential errors. Should an error be detected, you have the time to correct the design rather than being burdened with heaps of unusable boards. Mistakes can put a strain on your startup’s production, so it pays to have all the bottlenecks detected earlier.
4. Purchase one or many
Efficient turnkey manufacturers have systems that can amalgamate various small orders and turn them into a large one. Plus, they are open to manufacturing the PCBs in your desired quantity once the design is perfected. The use of cloud software enables them to manage orders of various sizes and serve all kinds of businesses. As your startup grows, you can order a higher volume from the same vendor. Plus, assemblers can also provide effective quotes after you indicate the number of PCBs you’ll require per month, which should help you better estimate your product costs. Moreover, you can avoid the hassle of purchasing and storing your inventory and the complications associated with the traditional approach. Let the PCB supplier worry about these things as you focus on coming up with a unique design that impresses your investors.
5. Save time
Another key advantage to using turnkey PCB assembly is that you can free up time to devote to other critical areas of our startup. You don’t have to spend valuable time sourcing for quality parts – the supplier does it for you. The working hours you save can be geared towards improving the performance of your final product. The ability to track orders in real-time, coupled with short lead times, will ensure you enjoy faster time to market while delivering quality products to your customers. Not to mention, dealing with one company instead of a whole PCB house, several component suppliers, and an assembly house can also save precious hours and make it simpler to manage the operation.
When looking for a turnkey PCB assembly service provider, you need a partner you can trust. EMS Solutions is a leading, full-service turnkey assembly provider dedicated to providing superior quality, competitive pricing, and customer service. Our suite of advanced machinery and skilled professionals are capable of fulfilling all your circuit board needs. Get in touch today to learn how we can help support your business.