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20 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2018 buying channels and go through all the bu- reaucracy of buying boards. So, they simply whip out their credit cards and buy boards on- line or use design services online. And there's nothing wrong with that. But what happens is as that board is elevated and goes upstairs to the traditional buying systems, the people who end up building the boards, the more tra- ditional board shops, have not gone through the develop- ment phase with the custom- er. That's where the commu- nication breaks down. That's an aspect I'm working on a lot right now. When you start dealing with companies that are literally building products that the world has never seen, including circuit boards with technology that the world has never seen, it's time that somebody talks to somebody. Johnson: Well, this gets to be kind of fun be- cause I do live and breathe in the area that Dan is calling the no-touch. We tended to find that this area is where the prototypers are do- ing their work, and Dan touches on something that's particularly important. If you're a pro- totyper, you're looking for a shop that can get you your prototype in a couple of days, quick- ly, in small quantities, and can be nimble and make changes alongside you to keep your de- sign team moving forward until you get your prototype ready to go and to optimize it for production. Then once you've optimized it for production, maybe you've taken it from a 4-layer prototype down to a 2-layer prototype where you changed the dimensions or cleaned up the DFM warnings and you are ready to go into production and get some good deals out of your overseas production shop or your major production shop in the U.S. Once you're there, it does change and there's information that we have established as the prototype partner that needs to be transferred over to the production shop to keep everything flowing properly. That's something that we see with our customers on a regular basis. We see it from the other way. We start handing things off, moving things over, trying to help the cus- tomers get their designs moved over into pro- duction and have things fall down on their face for the first couple of runs while they're getting up and going. So Dan's point is exactly right. How do we get that key step from helping with the prototype, all that knowledge we've built up because we're spinning that board with the customer and then getting it over into production where it can stay put and be stable with high yield and high profit for a long time for this customer? That's a key thought. We've been working to de- velop some relationships with some production houses in order to be able to create a communication channel to do that. It's interesting from our perspective that it's difficult to get the atten- tion of the production houses to do that. We're in a place where we're working with a lot of prototypers on a lot of different levels. Every- thing from the breakers that Dan mentioned, and down to university teams, individual en- trepreneurs, and hobbyists and makers. Many of these projects are turning into production products at some level, maybe small, maybe huge, but that transfer over into production is an area where we're struggling to get that in- formation passed over consistently and heard. I think there's some room for some protocols around that. Stephen Las Marias: How is it in the contract manufacturer or EMS space, Dan? Beaulieu: There is more conversation there by far. But for the most part, it's a longer quote cycle with parts and putting the package together, and ther e is much more conversation going on there. You just have to be closer. I work with one right now, for example, where I watch the project managers go back and forth for literally two or three days with the customer. Especially as you've got the quote cycle, which needs the Nolan Johnson, Sunstone Circuits

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