We are pleased to announce that PCB solutions just finished a major PCB & PCBA build for a Tier I customer. This project truly defines our scope and scale of capabilities when it comes to complex builds both for the circuit board and the circuit assembly. This project started in the beginning of March with an introduction email from research division of this customer in Brazil. The contact was looking for a manufacturer who could build the PCB and assemble the boards.

After a timely quote and effective communication, the customer replied to us on April 5th with the confirmation of a go ahead into production. Some of the communication below shows the complexity of the situation:

“The management has decided go ahead with both PCB and PCBA.
We will send the components that you could not find (N601, N6601, B601, R208, S305-S307, V205). The locations X601 and A504 do not need to be assembled.

But there is an issue. We have limited BOM kits. So I would like to ask you to change your quotation in the following way:

  • 50 PCBs (5 panels for assembly and 2 bare panels for our analysis).
  • 30 PCBA

Furthermore, our components are in cut tape format, the tapes are cut right on the quantity (40 pieces for each location – 10 in excess). This reduced tape length is a problem to you somehow?

And the previous email questions:

  • Where the bare PCB would be produced? USA or China? I understand that you guarantee the quality of Chinese factory, but if we choose to do it in U.S., how expensive this would be?
  • In your manufacturing process, are you considering copper filling on vias located under BGA pads?”

In a prompt reply, we confirmed all the details of the customer’s questions:

“Attached is an updated quote for your review. Here are some quick notes:

1. PCB Production – USA: No Bid – I took an extra day and branched out to a couple of our partners who take on work we can’t handle. They no-bid the opportunity. All in all, I spoke with 4 Hi-tech PCB shops that I have used in the past for small quantities and prototype runs with hi-technology, and all of them stated this board was beyond their capabilities.

2. China Production – With the No Bids from the USA partners, I went back to my China supplier to make sure they were confident in production of this PCB – they said YES.  We stand behind our shop in CHINA 100%. They are not a typical China shop at all. They build for Honeywell Shanghai, Raytheon (for us), and many more very complex customers.

3. Copper Fill under the vias – Yes. This can be produced according to your requirements.

4. PCB Lead Time – we are 12-14 days to produce the PCB after engineering questions have been resolved.

5. PCBA Lead Time – 5-7 days after receiving the PCB and components.

If we need to tighten up the lead times, I will certainly push these through where I can. One of the most critical areas is answering engineering questions promptly by your engineers. If this is done, I might be able to get you a 10-day turn for the PCB with no extra costs.

What we need from your team:

  • Official Purchase Order
  • Bank and Trade Details
  • Shipping account number with any specific shipping instructions
  • Prepayment for the PCB = $$$$
  • 50% prepayment for PCBA components, Set-up and Stencils
  • 50% payment when product is ready to ship – we will send detailed pictures prior to shipment
  • Credit Card payment is 3% of the transaction or a wire fee is $50 per transaction
  • Details on arrival of components

We will supply you our banking coordinates once you are ready to process the payment.”

There were other small details to begin the campaign but this is the general process. It truly was an international project with the PCBs being built in China; part of the kit being shipped to the USA from the customer in Brazil; fully assembled in America and then shipped back to Brazil to the customer.

It is important to highlight the PCB production. Here are some of the details regarding its specifications:
• 6-layer
• Fine line
• Blind and Buried Vias
• Vias that required laser drilling & “controlled depth drilling” for cross blind vias
• Quick turn of 10-12 days
• BGA and fine pitch pads

Here are a couple of pictures of the boards from the microsection. You can see the very high quality lines of copper and the clean drilling to connect the inner layers of the vias. In addition, the soldermask registration is near perfect for the BGA pads. It is an electronic manufacturing piece of art…

blind buried vias printed board
Complex blind and buried vias

Nokia 4

As noted above, we worked with over 4 different factories to that could not build the boards. It is rare but when you have done as much research as we have, you can build a very complex PCB like this one in a factory in China. We and our customer would have liked to do the work in the USA but technology and price combined did not allow for it. We were fortunate that one of our partners has the skill to manufacture at this level and can do the work in a short period of time.

Our project manager saw the whole build to the very end detail – and that includes today by informing the product was delivered and signed for successfully and on time. It crowns a two month effort to provide excellent quality products, on time and in a professional manner. It is our understanding this customer has multiple prototype needs and we believe going forward we have earned their trust as a supplier that can produce tier 1 quality experience.