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48 The PCB Design Magazine • July 2015 by Steve Dobson QuaDRa SoLuTionS Outsourcing your design work is a big deal. How do you know that the end-result will be as you envisaged? Will you have full control of your design? Will it be done to the quality you expect and within the time frame required? Outsourcing can pose some fairly scary questions, so what are the key things to con- sider and what are the pitfalls to avoid? 1. Will Outsourcing Work for you? Outsourcing of PCB design work is done by a wide variety of companies, in numerous industries ranging from one man operations to large design bureaus and equally there is no blueprint for the type of company that out- sources or the reasons given. Many small organisations may not have the capacity to employ PCB professionals or have sufficient design work to allow them to employ someone full-time. However, when new prod- uct development occurs, the need for these skills increases and, in order to innovate and adapt, these skills suddenly become a hot com- modity. In these situations the ability to have these skills on-demand becomes a critical part of the potential success or failure of a project and outsourcing this crucial element can prove a worrying issue for many companies. However, many of the design bureaus and freelance de- signers can provide a vital lifeline in getting the product to market on time, keeping costs down and enabling small organisations to be lean and responsive to customer/client needs. But outsourcing isn't just for those organ- isations without in-house personnel. Often, outside PCB design support is sought by organ- isations because the skills required are beyond that of the in-house electronic design profes- sionals. It is also the case that sometimes the in- house professionals require additional support and advice especially if they have had limited exposure to the latest industry developments in design, software or manufacturing. High- speed signals, matching track lengths and sig- nal propagation varieties are just a few of the elements making PCB design more challenging. The complexity is often driven by the require- 10 Considerations for Outsourcing PCB Designs article

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