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24 The PCB Magazine • July 2017 It can be quite tough to satisfy the prod- uct requirements of the military and aviation industries, and rightly so. There are not many other parts that we manufacture that could re- sult in a life-threatening situation should they fail when they are in use. Once a product has been qualified, the pro- cess route may leave very little room for ma- neuver. The nature of many of these products is that they may have a long life-cycle so these restrictions can make process changes very dif- ficult. Some processes such as tin-lead solder have had to be maintained just for this type of appli- cation and there are no signs that the require- ment is going to disappear soon. For fabricators, this puts them in quite a dif- ficult position. If they want to be able to com- pete for this type of work, they must maintain a process or multiple processes that may only be called into action when there are military or aerospace boards in manufacture. Real estate in- side the factory is expensive so this is a big ask for any company. There is also a large time commitment to manufacturing these products. The mainte- nance of the approvals and the inspection and testing which relate to these circuits mean that many working hours are required, regardless of whether you make one batch of boards or one hundred. To make things worse, there is nev- er any guarantee that you will get the contract. You can commit 100% to meeting the required standards and still fail to get a single order. I have spent plenty of time working directly in bare board fabrication plants—enough time to know that the salesmen have a tough job to do. They have targets to meet and sales is a competitive sport. If your profit margins are too large you will never get the order! To some ex- Time to Show our Hand? FEATURE COLUMN: LADLE ON MANUFACTURING by Marc Ladle VIKING TEST LTD.

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