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MARCH 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 85 times respond, "Everything went perfectly! We'll ask our fabrication or assembly house, "How many boards fell out of the design pro- cess?" Again, they'll say, "We had 100%." Matties: I was born at night, but not last night! Watson: I fell off the truck, but not the turnip truck. Statistically, it is impossible that every- thing was perfect. That's not good information or feedback for us to operate on because we're looking to improve, and I know it's not perfect. Working with international suppliers is very difficult. Matties: How are you han- dling your prototypes? Watson: We handle our prototypes domestically, which comes with its own problems. Understand that a prototype is only the be- ginning process because you design, fabricate, and assemble it with more of a controlled situation. When we do things domestically, I talk to the fabrication and as- sembly house to find out the details because we want to make sure that we monitor everything in detail of this design; I was just on the phone this morning doing that with our fabrication and assembly house in Germany. That works well to get a high-quality board. Next, the board will be put forward in the process, and a lot of times, we look at compliance and certification. Then, you switch everything over from do- mestic to international and lose control of our entire design, fabrication, and assembly. We may lose compliance. Compliance is not some- thing you want to redo, so we have to take it down to a point before it gets into compliance and then transfer it over to the international level and get that certified. We want the certifi- cation based on what we're going to be build- ing, not just a prototype. It's great if you have a product you can verify, but somehow, that has to be translated into the international area. Holden: Why do you go to international com- panies? Watson: Price. Holden: If you could get the prototype for the same price as the high-volume international, would you use the same source? Watson: I think we would. Matties: More and more offshore fabricators of- fer that. We see the lot size move down to 40 in some of these big places. Watson: These are some of the conversations that I'm going to have in a couple of weeks in China. I'll be in Shanghai to discuss it with our board house. Matties: This is bad news for U.S. fabricators. Watson: True, but there are so many restrictions on U.S. fabricators, espe- cially in California. The restrictions on chemi- cals and processes that can be used have killed PCB fabrication in the U.S. Shaughnessy: Of course, state regulators would say it was because they dumped everything in the river for many years. Holden: Even the Chinese are learning that PCB fabrication has a lot of nasty chemicals. Now, the Chinese are moving to Vietnam be- cause they can't meet their own emissions standards. Watson: It's starting to impact China like what we have gone through here in the U.S. Matties: When you do prototypes, this is a race for time as well. If a prototype house is late, what impact does that have on you?

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