Contract Manufacturing – Frequently Asked Questions
PCB Design & Printing
What is a stencil used for?
A stencil is used to apply the solder paste that adheres the SMT parts to the PCB. A high-quality stencil ensures that the correct amount of paste is applied to the correct surface area for each component. This is important because excessive or insufficient levels of paste can cause components to move or not adhere to the board.
How do I create a stencil file if I’ve never done it before?
Don’t panic. Just send us your PADS PCB file and we’ll take care of the rest.
Can I supply my own stencil?
For small runs we can accommodate most stencil types, however for medium to large runs we prefer to source stencils to fit our automated machinery.
What is the normal lead time for components?
We pre-order many commonly used components and store them at our manufacturing facility. For components that need to be sourced overseas, we reduce lead times by dealing directly with a number of sourcing houses. Lead times on these components are subject to global demand and availability, and can range from 1-12 weeks.
Can you source lead free components?
Yes. In fact, 99% of our components are already lead free. Click here for more information on our lead free services.
Aren’t lead free components more expensive?
No, they are not.
Can you source enclosures and casing?
Yes we can.
If I supply the PCB boards and/or some of the components, can you source the rest for me?
Absolutely! We frequently do partial turnkey for customers who already have some of their own materials.
Is there a minimum run quantity for prototype builds?
No, there isn’t. We can produce only one prototype if required.
How long does it usually take for you to build a prototype?
That depends on the run size and the complexity of the board. Our general turnover time for prototypes is 1 week.
How do I get started?
To build your prototype we’ll need your BOM (Bill of Materials) and gerber file (PADS and altium PCB files are also accepted).
What is the normal lead time for electronic assemblies?
Once we have all of your components, our standard turnaround time is 10 working days.
What is your manufacturing capacity?
Most of our run sizes are 100 to 10,000 units. For smaller volumes, refer to our prototype service.
Can you pre-form and cut thru-hole components?
Yes. We have EBSO machines to perform these tasks.
What board sizes you can process?
Up to 400W x 450L (SMT), 60-350 W (wave soldering)
Most manufacturers only want to do complete assemblies. Do you mind doing partial assemblies?
We prefer to do full assembly, as we believe you’ll get a better result. However, we understand that this is not an option for some companies, and we are happy to oblige.
What packaging options do you have?
We use anti-static bubble wrap and anti-static bags. We can also custom design packaging for high-volume shipments.
Is it expensive to go lead free?
No. Lead free components are the same price as leaded components.
Why should I bother with RoHS compliance?
RoHS is a European Union directive which took effect in 2006 and is enforced in each EU member state. Major companies in some other countries (such as China and Japan) are embracing RoHS voluntarily. Although there is no similar US legislation pending, most manufacturers will not waste their time producing both leaded and lead free versions of a single product intended for global export.
What does RoHS stand for?
RoHS is the ‘Restriction of Certain Hazardous Substances in electrical and electronic equipment’. RoHS restrictions apply to five other hazardous materials as well as lead: cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl and polybrominated biphenyl ethers.
Why is there so much concern about lead?
The primary catalyst for lead free legislation has been growing concerns that electronic products disposed in landfills could be leaking hazardous substances into groundwater systems.
Testing & QC
Why is testing so important?
Although the demands on electronic manufacturers (in terms of features and functionality) are always on the increase, product life-cycles continue to shorten. Testing ensures that both yield and quality expectations are consistently met, saving you money and preventing loss of reputation.
Won’t it be expensive to test my product?
Not necessarily. At Define Instruments we source our test-jigs off shore and can provide you with genuinely competitive rates on the use of our ICT tester. PLUS, testing now is insurance for later: simple faults which are easily fixed at the prototype stage can cost thousands of dollars in engineering time if a flaw is detected after the product has been sold.