High-volume PCB Production

High-volume PCB production refers to the manufacturing process that produces large quantities of printed circuit boards in a single production run, usually in quantities ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands or more. The high-volume PCB production model is suitable for mass-market products that require large quantities of the same circuit boards, ensuring economies of scale and reducing unit costs.

High-volume PCB assembly

High-volume PCB assembly is the process of assembling electronic components onto PCBs on a large scale, with production volumes typically involving thousands or even millions of PCBs. High-volume PCB assembly is commonly used in consumer electronics, automotive parts, industrial equipment, and other applications that require large quantities of electronic equipment.
High-volume PCB assembly is a complex operation that requires extensive planning, coordination, and an emphasis on precision and quality control to ensure that each unit produced meets the standards required to efficiently perform high-volume PCB assembly.

Aspects of high-volume PCB assembly include:

  1. Automated Component Placement: High-speed pick-and-place machines are used to place components onto PCBs with a high degree of precision and at a rapid pace.

  2. Soldering: This can be done through Automated Solder Paste Stencil Printing followed by Reflow Soldering for Surface Mount Technology (SMT) components, and Wave Soldering or Selective Soldering for Through-Hole Technology (THT) components.

  3. Inspection and Testing: High-volume assembly lines use Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), X-ray inspection, and In-Circuit Testing (ICT) to check for soldering defects, component placement accuracy, and functionality.

  4. Component Procurement and Management: Securing the supply chain for the necessary components is critical in avoiding production delays, and it often involves forecasting, bulk ordering, and inventory management.

  5. Design for Manufacturability (DFM): Prior to high-volume assembly, PCB designs are often analyzed and modified to ensure they suit the capabilities of the assembly equipment, improving yield rates and reducing wastage.

  6. Quality Control: Strict quality control processes are implemented to ensure reliability and function, such as Six Sigma methodology or Total Quality Management (TQM) practices.

  7. Flexibility for Changeovers: Despite the focus on large runs, high-volume assembly lines are also designed for relatively quick changeovers to accommodate different products as needed.

  8. Lead Times: Longer lead times are common due to the scale of production, although per-unit production time is efficient.

  9. Economies of Scale: The cost-per-unit is reduced, benefiting from the large scale of production and standardization.

  10. Packaging and Shipping: The final assembled PCBs are packaged in protective materials and shipped in bulk, sometimes requiring logistical planning to handle the large volumes.

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

High-volume PCB production typically starts at the threshold of thousands of units and can extend into the millions. The specific volume that defines “high volume” can vary based on the manufacturer’s capabilities and the product’s complexity.

With high-volume production, the cost per unit is reduced due to economies of scale, standardized processes, and amortization of upfront costs, like tooling and setup, over a large number of units.

While the actual production time per unit is lower, the initial setup and the aggregate time to produce the entire batch can be longer. This needs to be planned for as part of the product’s manufacturing timeline.

Quality control measures include Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), In-Circuit Testing (ICT), functional testing, and sometimes X-ray inspection. These are used to ensure every PCB meets the required standards.