PCB007 Magazine

PCB-Aug2015

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76 The PCB Magazine • August 2015 by Tara Dunn omni PcB flex talk Designing Flex Circuits for Domestic Prototyping Column Designing a flex circuit to be prototyped do- mestically? No problem. Designing a rigid-flex circuit for production offshore? Got it. Design- ing a part that will be prototyped domestically with a seamless transition to offshore produc- tion? That can be a little more challenging. We have probably all been there. The proto- types are needed on a very tight delivery sched- ule and are built domestically. The testing is complete and the same files are sent to an off- shore manufacturer for the production build. The order is placed and suddenly, the engineer- ing questions start coming in. Can the materials be changed? Can the hole size or pad size be altered to improve manufacturabil- ity? These common ques- tions now require time and effort to evaluate and ultimately, time and effort to complete the rev spin before production product can be released. Recently, Omni PWB's Elizabeth Fo - radori and I sat down with Ashley Luxton of Graphic PLC to learn his recommendations for minimiz- ing these disruptions. Our discussion focused on the importance of supplier selection, universal considerations, and key areas that have more significant variation. To listen to the discussion, click here. Following are some of the highlights from that discussion. Supplier Selection: Choose your suppli - er carefully and consider the different options available. There are manufacturers that own both domestic and offshore facilities, domestic manufacturers that partner with offshore facili- ties, and manufacturers that work only domesti- cally or only offshore. When working with a manufacturer that has both domestic and offshore capabilities, it is critical to communicate with them early in the design process. The fabricator, understand- ing both the domestic and offshore preferences and capabilities, will be happy to make recom- mendations for material selection, panel utiliza- tion, and also how to maximize yields for the production volumes. A domestic supplier who partners with an offshore manufacturer will be able to offer this same type of guidance. Due diligence is recom- mended. Most domestic manufacturers that partner with offshore suppliers do so to offer their customers a full service option. Signifi- cant effort is put into learn- ing their partner's techni- cal capabilities, material preferences and operations. The lines of communica- tion between the facilities are well established. There are also domes- tic suppliers that purchase product from offshore sup- pliers to support a full range of volume require- ments for their customers, but have not put the extra effort into learning and understanding the details of their offshore partner's technical capabilities. This model provides the customer with volume production from offshore, but may not be the best solution when looking for de- sign guidance to ensure a smooth domestic to offshore transition. When working with two independent facili- ties, take the time to fully understand the off- shore supplier's capabilities and material prefer- ences and then apply those criteria to the do- mestic prototype design.

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