How to find a quality PCB prototype company.

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The electronics world grows exponentially, year on year.  One only has to visit the various trade shows to see how many new uses have been found for electronics, which now underpin the day-to-day operation of all our lives.  Of course, just as electronic engineering evolves… so does the design and manufacture of printed circuit boards.  If electronics are at the heart of our lives, PCBS are at the heart of those electronics, driving the devices that power modern living.

prototype printed circuit boardMany companies have been established to match this demand for PCBs and of course that means a great deal of choice for electronic companies.  However, there are many things to consider, when choosing a PCB prototype company.  So to ease that perhaps daunting process, we have compiled a five-point checklist, to help you decide on the criteria by which to choose the company entrusted with designing and manufacturing your printed circuits boards, and delivering the best possible standards:

1 Bespoke PCB design

Rather like buying suits in Milan, this isn’t an off-the-peg deal.  Each PCB will be designed to suit a specific job, with unique specifications in terms of detail and size.  For these reasons – and especially if your PCBs are particularly advanced – you need to choose a company with the right blend of equipment and experience to produce the bespoke product you need.

2 Quantity of prototypes

And it’s not only a case of the right PCB, but the right numbers.  Some companies only deal in high volume orders – notably overseas – whereas others, such as Hi5, are adaptable and willing to discuss orders from modest runs to high volume production.  Being based in the UK also means we can offer more of a nuanced, local service to our customers.

3 Quality PCB manufacturing processes

As with all the best things in life, it’s not only quantity that counts, but quality.  Yes, many companies have emerged to serve the insatiable desire for PCBs.  Not all of them have them, however, operate to the best quality levels.  And as you know, when it comes to PCB manufacture, the levels of precision required – from design to prototype to eventual manufacture – demand high levels of expertise.  Even the tiniest error can cause bigger problems down the line; errors at the design stage might even cause the ultimate failure of the device driven by the PCB, reflecting badly on your own company.  So always demand the highest level of quality standards, in keeping with accreditation such as UL and ISO 9001.

4 Project turnaround speed

Response time is vital.  Of course quality and quantity must be born in mind but equally, your prototyping project is likely to be working to its own tight deadline.  Industry standard turnaround is five days, although Hi5 also offer a fast turnaround option, building a PCB prototype in only 24 hours.  If time is of the essence, this might really work as the best option.

5 Cost effective board pricing

Ah yes, we kept the key one until last.  By all means shop around and don’t ever pay more than you should, especially as the PCB is likely to be part of a much larger contract.  However, price isn’t everything.  At the end of the day you want a PCB that does the job it needs to do.  The best option is for the PCB company to offer a pricing tool within their website, so you can quickly price up a job, and then make your decision.  Hi5 has just such a device within the Prototype PCB shop – an innovative way to sell prototype PCBs cost-effectively.

Yes,  many companies have sprung up around the world, offering to design and build printed circuit boards.  Not many are as well established, skilled, and experienced as Hi5, a company proudly UK-based and dedicated to its business.  We firmly hit every one of the above criteria, so please price up your job on our innovative online prototype shop, or else give one of our customer care team a call.




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