What comes to mind when you think of fussy circuits?

You probably try hard not to think about them, just because they’re complicated, difficult, time consuming, and a nightmare to source. As low volume, prototype or one-off items, their production costs can be high, assuming, of course, that you can find an EMS contract manufacturer willing to produce them.

It would be nice if these fussy circuits could go away and be replaced by sleek state-of-the-art circuits produced in large quantities by fully automated systems.

But that’s not the reality.

These circuits may be purpose designed and critical to complex pieces of technology. Fussy circuits can be:

  • Older, legacy designs, vital to a specific purpose, but that often require manual operations incompatible with automated processes.
  • Designs with unusual size and shape constraints or that even require multiple boards to be soldered into a larger circuit assembly stack.
  • Hybrid designs, new or existing, that require both SMT and through-hole components.
  • Boards that wind up being used in products that perform in extreme environments often must meet special standards. Some require the higher mechanical strength a through-hole solder joint provides, others need encapsulation or conformal coating to withstand harsh conditions.
  • Complex board designs that, for a range of customer reasons, have not been redesigned to take advantage of newer and more automated technology.

It’s understandable that many EMS companies may view these circuits as too labor intensive to bother with because they can’t be produced using their highly automated set-it-and-forget-it manufacturing systems. Even if they did choose to interrupt their processes and take on these difficult projects, the ultimate cost would be prohibitive or unsustainable.

But when your project depends upon complicated, unusual or difficult circuits, that’s when the sourcing challenge begins.

Willingness to produce fussy or difficult boards is not the only attribute needed in a custom contract manufacturer.

Look for these key attributes in the supplier you partner with:

Collaborative mindset. Working through the stages and iterations of prototyping and refining a design requires a manufacturing partner willing to participate in your vision and help bring a viable product to market.

Knowledge and experience. Nothing replaces accumulated experience in solving a wide range of circuitry design and production challenges.

Clear communications style. An effective relationship depends on accurate, timely, and helpful communications. With the potential for so many variables to change, in terms of availability or material costs, constraints and challenges need to be communicated openly to prevent surprises, allow for fresh input, and guide modifications.

Stick-to-it-iveness. Challenges are to be expected–and overcome. You need a manufacturing partner that shares your vision for a final outcome and your dedication to seeing it through.

Constant improvement and innovation. Every new design should be viewed as a learning opportunity. Machines and technologies should constantly be updated.

Capabilities on a scale that aligns with your needs. Highly complex boards often need multiple prototypes and result in low volume production runs with high variety rather than high volume runs having little variation.

The team at Aurora Boardworks knows a lot about fussy circuits and the attributes required to produce them. Decades of experience have given us knowledge of components and equipment. As a result, unlike many other contract manufacturers, fussy circuits are our favorites.

Challenge accepted!

Nothing beats the close collaboration and personal relationships that develop as we take on a customer’s vision to bring a project to life.

And solving difficult problems and finding new ways to create top quality results at affordable pricing is the icing on the cake.

Beyond that, we love the process of producing unusual boards and all that we learn along the way. SMT Process Engineer Daniel Stanphill describes himself as having a voracious appetite for learning; that drives a can-do spirit that’s shared by the Aurora Boardworks team.

With attention to detail, personal service, and Nebraskan determination we have what it takes to deliver on your vision and help bring your project to life. Give us a call and talk to the A-Team to tame your fussy, complicated circuit challenge once and for all.