Bridging the Gap: Why Designer-Fabricator Collaboration Matters in PCB Manufacturing

Posted 1/30/2024 by AdvancedPCB
Designer-Fabricator Collaboration

The relationship between designers and fabricators plays a crucial role in the success of any project. However, there has been an ongoing discussion about the disconnect between these two groups and the benefits of having designers who understand the intricacies of fabrication facilities. In this blog post, we will explore the different categories of designers, the importance of collaboration between designers and fabricators, and how our expertise and turnaround times can make a difference in your PCB projects.

Understanding the Three Categories of Designers

In the PCB industry, there are primarily three categories of designers, each with its unique set of challenges and priorities:

OEM Designers: These designers are often associated with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and tend to work on projects with concentrated hardware cycles and timelines. They usually interface with a limited subset of fabricators and Contract Electronic Manufacturers (CEMs).

Contract Designers: Designers on the contract side, like us, work with a diverse range of customers, various fabrication houses, and different CEMs. Their pace is notably faster, often juggling multiple projects simultaneously. This agility allows for quick turnarounds and adaptability in design.

Startup Designers: Startups, especially those focused on prototyping, often hire contractors to meet aggressive time-to-market goals. These designers prioritize schedules over cost and design optimization, aiming for rapid product development.

The Eye-Opening Experience of Visiting a Fabrication Facility

For many designers, the disconnect between their design work and the manufacturing process becomes evident when they step foot into a fabrication facility. Seeing the inner workings of PCB fabrication can be a transformative experience. Here are some key takeaways:

Understanding the Drill Process: Witnessing the hum and cadence of a drill and realizing the large number of drill hits in each design sheds light on the complexity of the manufacturing process.

Chemical Side of Fabrication: Experiencing the plating baths firsthand and understanding how different finishes are achieved provides insight into why fabricators may have limitations in offering a multitude of plating processes.

Etching Lines: Observing boards traveling down a conveyor in the etching lines and watching copper disappear as the board undergoes the etching process underscores the importance of giving fabricators reasonable margins.

The Importance of Collaboration

The journey of a designer into a fabrication facility helps them appreciate the physics and intricacies involved in PCB manufacturing. It also highlights the significance of collaboration between designers and fabricators. Designers who understand the manufacturing process can make informed design choices that lead to more manufacturable and cost-effective PCBs.

The synergy between designers and fabricators is vital for the success of any PCB project. Understanding the different categories of designers and the transformative experience of visiting a fabrication facility emphasizes the need for collaboration. At AdvancedPCB, we are committed to bridging the gap and delivering the highest quality PCBs with unmatched turnaround times. Partner with us to take your PCB projects to the next level, and let’s make your innovative designs a reality. Contact us today to get started.

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