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From: "Ken Taylor"
Subject: Re: 1523 joints
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 11:36:46 +1300
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"Christopher R. Carlen" wrote in message
> Hi folks:
> I have a design in the works, and it looks like it will involve two PCBs
> with a total of 1523 solder joints per assy. I will likely need to
> produce between 4-10 of these over the next few months.
> The objectional quantity of solder joints is making me consider having
> them manufactured by a local custom electronics assembly shop.
> But I dread the thought of something going wrong, and having to waste
> time figuring out what went wrong, and straightening it out with the
> possible cost of wasting my PCBs or having to salvage them. Plus, the
> time to document the assembly procedure and kit all the parts probably
> will equal at least one or two assembly times.
> Finally, the main PCB has the active stuff on one side, and the other
> side has a bunch of BNCs and LEDs, that have to be placed in the board,
> and then the board has to be placed into the panel in which it will
> live, before soldering the parts, so that the LEDs will stand off at the
> right height, and the BNCs will not get soldered with little tolerance
> errors that would make it impossible to get the PCB into the panel if
> they were soldered without first mating to the panel. Trying to
> describe this and then hope they do it right, is also dreadful.
> In short, the thought of other people doing my work and screwing it up,
> is dreadful.
> But I'm sure those among us who are used to manufacturing have learned
> to deal with this. For me it represents a substantial obstacle to
> opening up my mind to outsourcing some of my assembly work--something
> which I have never done before. The sadder part is that there are
> terribly few techs. here at the lab who can do this work with the kind
> of care that I would hope for, and none in my immediate facility. The
> only master builder we had left. Then he regretted it, but couldn't
> bring himself to reverse the error.
> Oh well. Any comments welcome on your experiences and wisdom with
> getting jobs outsourced, how to describe what to do, how to cover one's
> buttocks if there is an error, etc.
> Good day!
> Christopher R. Carlen
> Principal Laser/Optical Technologist
> Sandia National Laboratories CA USA
Hi Christopher. Without having too much of a dig at you, should you have
considered the manufacture stage during the design stage? Is the board
suited to reflow? If it really has to be hand-assembled and soldered you may
need to take a look at a few assembly shops and their work to make yourself
happy with their output. Outsourcing can work but it takes a fair bit of
preparation, investigation and ultimately confidence on both sides. Can you
provide a fully assembled one which you *are* happy with so they have a
model? What about if you maybe only get one side done externally, leaving
the fiddlier bit on the 'non-active' side done internally, so that maybe an
automated process can be used for the bulk of the joints.
What are the chances though of taking one or more of your lab tech's 'under
your wing' and bringing them up to your standard? They have to learn
somewhere, and if they currently are not up to spec then here's your chance
to improve things! :)
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