PCB Prototyping - Why In-house?
Today, more than ever, PCB prototyping is crucial to the electronic design process. In this world of blazing time-to-market requirements and fierce R&D expectations, effective PCB prototyping is critical to success.
In-house PCB Prototyping has Clear Advantages over Outsourcing
Yet, in spite of the need for effective PCB prototyping, engineers still find themselves constrained by the time and cost limitations inherent in outsourcing their prototypes. As a result, an increasing number of engineers are adopting LPKF’s in-house PCB prototyping solution because of its enhanced technological capabilities and clear advantages over outsourcing.
PCB Prototyping: The Problems with Outsourcing
The following example is typical of the time and iteration constraints inherent in outsourcing:
An engineer must order a minimum of 10 to 20 boards and wait one to two weeks in order to receive an initial PCB prototype. Usually, the prototype is populated with components and then tested. If the test results are unfavorable or the engineer wants to test a second iteration, then the design has to be reconfigured and a set of prototypes created a second time, usually taking another one to two weeks to be received and tested.
Outsourcing makes it difficult to meet the demands of many development cycles
Since effective PCB prototyping almost always requires multiple design iterations, outsourcing makes it difficult to meet the demands of many development cycles. Plus, downtime between prototype builds can lead to a loss of engineering focus and momentum, thus causing projects to suffer.
The cost to fabricate one or multiple prototypes can be prohibitively high
Another problem with outsourcing is that the cost to fabricate one or multiple prototypes can be prohibitively high and these costs must be estimated for each project. Outsourcing costs become an even greater issue when designing multilayer boards. Those costs can easily run into the thousands of dollars for a single prototype.
"Thanks to our LPKF ProtoMat we took a project that should have taken 10 weeks and did it in only one week."
The Solution – LPKF Plotters
For over 30 years, LPKF Laser & Electronics has been the leader in in-house PCB prototyping equipment and products. Today, LPKF customers around the world benefit from our passion and commitment to product quality, precision and performance.
LPKF Plotters produce high-performance boards that match the quality of outsourced PCBs by delivering high signal integrity and SMT component capability. Plus, LPKF plotters do not require hazardous chemicals for processing and their versatility makes them capable of producing many different applications.
Former PCB Prototype Outsourcers are now Clients
Many of our customers are former outsourcers who benefit from the increased productivity, performance and control this equipment provides. Maintaining total control over prototyping projects while still producing boards equal to outsourcing is an important reason for the tremendous popularity of LPKF plotters.
Mechanical PCB prototyping never requires a minimum production quantity
Design engineers can fabricate one or many boards simultaneously, all of which can be tested and reconfigured the same day. This instant turnaround enables our customers to make immediate revisions one at a time instead of being forced to accumulate design changes. Plus, fabrication and testing time is reduced from weeks to minutes. This encourages better designs and fewer production-related mistakes. Concerns about guarding a design’s intellectual property are also alleviated because development efforts remain in-house.
LPKF systems are easy to operate and have the precision to fabricate multilayer PCBs
Recent LPKF advances in PCB prototyping and milling system technology continues to be a primary factor contributing to the increasing use of our equipment. Unlike other basic milling equipment, LPKF systems are easy to operate and have the precision to fabricate multilayer PCBs that use cutting-edge SMT components and have professionally-plated through-holes.