Column Standard of Excellence: Three Ways to Face the Future With Your PCB Suppliers

Written by: Anaya Vardya on June 6, 2019

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Once you have established a solid, trusting relationship with your PCB vendor, you can start working together developing new products, technologies, and in some cases, services. There are even times when your PCB supplier will bring projects to you. Here are three ways that you can work with your PCB suppliers to face the future.

1. New Products

Your company decides to expand its product offerings. Say you are a medical electronics company specializing in microelectronic products, such as pacemakers or hearing aids. Both of these products are getting smaller and more complex all the time. They also require “micro PCBs.” The smaller your product, the more PCB expertise is required.

Chances are that nobody in your company has the knowledge or skill set to build micro PCBs. You might have engineers and designers who can design what you need, but they will not know if it can be produced. This is when the participation of your PCB fabricator is critical and when you make your supplier part of your development team. Together, both of your companies can develop the micro boards that you will need for your products to work.

2. New Technologies

If you think about it, there is no way you can launch new technology without consulting with all of your key vendors—especially your PCB vendors. Here are some examples of new technologies where the PCB supplier played a critical consulting role in the development of the new product.

The space program needed to use PCBs that were built from the right thermal management materials. When a rocket is launched from the ground at 80°F and within a few seconds is miles above the earth at -55°F, the PCBs and components must have a matching coefficient of thermal management or the chips are going to pop off the boards. Or when a company like Haliburton develops a new drill bit for their oil excavation, that drill bit must contain boards that are virtually indestructible and have a solid CTE match with the components since they are often drilling through rock and also going through drastic changes in temperature.

Fast forward to today with everything from self-driving cars to robotics to private space exploration programs. More than ever, companies have to consult with their PCB vendors to make sure they get it right!

3. New Services

Suppose your company sees a very sharp demand from the marketplace. You need a great partnership with your suppliers to make sure you have everything you need when you need it. Years ago, the gaming industry was always faced with this dilemma as companies like Bally and Sony invented new games. They never knew which ones were going to take off and which were not.

For the ones that “got hot”—such as “Mortal Combat”—Bally had to come up with literally millions of game cartridges for all of them containing PCBs as fast as they could produce them. That took a great deal of cooperation and support from their trusted PCB suppliers. Or how about when you are about to launch a new product, you’re very late with your design, and need to rely on your PCB vendors to provide the boards overnight; that is when a great PCB partner is invaluable.

These are just a few of the ways having a trusted PCB supplier to face the future with can pay off. But there are others as well—problem-solving when you have field failures, building spares to repair older technology products, or even joining forces to solve a problem that the market needs a solution to immediately. These are important examples of when you need to have a PCB supplier by your side.

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