Is In-house PCB Prototyping for Everyone?

Is in-house prototyping of printed circuit boards for everyone? Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of this technology. To learn more about prototyping printed circuit boards in-house, register for the IPC webinar PCB Prototyping: In-house v. Outsource live at 11:00 am EST, Thursday, May 10. Josh Brown, market development representative, LPKF Laser & Electronics, will be presenting.

Pros of in-house prototyping

  • Quick turn? Try immediate return: Rapid PCB prototyping machines can produce a test-ready board in the time it takes to fill out a purchase order. This is essential in an age where R&D turnaround times must be quicker than ever.
  • Long-term cost saver: Cost of a hamburger made at home? $2. Cost of a hamburger bought at Red Robin? $12. Similarly, the material cost to make a prototype PCB in-house is minute when compared to outsourcing. In this case, consider PCB prototyping machines are to PCBs as barbecue grills are to hamburgers.
  • The initial expense may be larger, but the return on investment saves money over time.
  • Creative culture: You can’t make design adjustments when you are waiting for your prototype PCB to show up in the mail. But when you have your board finished before lunch, and the cost of making another one is a pittance, going back to the drawing board is easier than ever. This fosters a creative climate in which PCB designers can push technological limits to the edge and spur your company to the forefront of modern electrical design.
  • Secure: Is your organization one of the many that is placing an increased premium on keeping your design safe from prying eyes? Prototyping PCBs in-house assures that only your people will ever see the details of your design.
  • Environmentally sound: Environmental compliance is easy when you don’t have to worry about disposing ferric chloride and other harmful chemicals.

Cons of in-house prototyping

  • Non-volume prototyping: Remember that barbecue analogy? A grill may not be the best investment if you only plan to make one meal with it. Similarly, if you are only producing a small amount of printed circuit boards per year, going in-house may not be the best option, as your ROI will be permanently seeing the world with red-colored glasses.
  • Maintenance: A PCB prototyping machine is similar to any other mechanical object in that it will take time and effort to maintain. For many business models, this time, effort, and cost is not worth it. It all depends on your time, technical requirements, and cost considerations.

Sign up today for this webinar.


One Comment

  1. Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    That’s a very good analogy you’ve got there for circuit boards. Personally I think having the capability to make those last minute tweaks to your prototype board makes in-house production all the more inticing, although there are many pitfalls too…

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