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'[EE] Market for low-volume PCB assembly?'
2008\11\23@223934 by apptech

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Posting guide:
   This had a valid [EE] and valid [OT] tag.
   Only one tag should be uised per post.
   I've made it [EE].

> But is there really a market for this?  I've know of product manufacturers
> doing this to offset the cost of their very expensive equipment, and
> allegedly it works for them.  But I also hear there's an increased rate of
> CEM failures nowadays, so I have to question the market nowadays.

I don't know about your market. BUT if you look at how much people in China
will do the same thing for it may give you some idea. Figure their semi
skilled labout rate at maybe under $1 /hour and their charge out labour rate
at maybe under $5/hour. And maybe free.

GMail recently popped up an ad for the following people in the depths of
China (OK - only 4 hours from Beijing by road). Possibly because I had been
to Shijiazhuang recently and was discussing PCBs. Power of the hive mind.

              http://www.ourpcb.com

They SOUND extremely good and extremely cheap. They may prove to be neither,
but who can say.
Statements like "parts for prototypes free" may scare off some of their
competition.
NEVER ask for a level playing field.

In the same city I saw a rather neat pick and place machine. It was about 30
feet long and 6 feet wide and used about 20 pairs of hands working at
stunning speed to populate SMD PCBs with parts. Probably cost under $20/hour
to run and probably ran 10 hours/day. They also had a "real" one in an
adjacent room, but thte fact that they ran that and the manual one suggests
it was better/cheaper/faster (choose any 4) for some tasks.


   Russell

2008\11\23@232214 by PicDude

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Ack!... I was posting this from Nabble in the [EE] sub-forum, but changed the
tag to [OT], and forgot to change to the other sub-forum.

China still does not seem to be a good option for the low-volume folks, such
as myself.  My usual batches are ~500 pcs at a time, but I find that lately
I'm doing specialized versions of my products to specific customers'
requests -- mostly just different layouts, but very short runs of under a
couple hundred pieces each.  Part of the reason I'm looking into my own
equipment is that the quote cycle time for each product or even each version
of a product is significant and it makes short runs very painful.  It's
amazing how much time I can waste just going back and forth with CEMs trying
to get quotes.  I'm thinking I can cater to those in a similar situation --
at least for a short time to help offset the machine costs.

Cheers,
-Neil.




Apptech wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> --

2008\11\24@050115 by Vitaliy

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PicDude wrote:
> China still does not seem to be a good option for the low-volume folks,
> such
> as myself.  My usual batches are ~500 pcs at a time, but I find that
> lately
> I'm doing specialized versions of my products to specific customers'
> requests -- mostly just different layouts, but very short runs of under a
> couple hundred pieces each.  Part of the reason I'm looking into my own
> equipment is that the quote cycle time for each product or even each
> version
> of a product is significant and it makes short runs very painful.  It's
> amazing how much time I can waste just going back and forth with CEMs
> trying
> to get quotes.  I'm thinking I can cater to those in a similar
> situation --
> at least for a short time to help offset the machine costs.

Neil, our company would certainly be interested. These are the options that
we have right now:

1. Contract manufacturers (1000+, 6 week lead time, low cost)
2. In-house manual assembly (typically 10-100 units per run, zero lead time,
medium cost)
3. http://www.aapcb.com/ (1-10 units, ~1 week, very expensive -- but may be
necessary in some cases)

We use #2 for our Bluetooth modules, mainly because #1 is ridiculously
expensive. CEMs assume that they will "lose" a percentage of very expensive
Bluetooth modules, and mark up the quote accordingly. However, building
thousands of modules by hand is no fun for the techs, and we'd be willing to
pay at the same rate for machine assembly (currenly, ~$2/unit), as long as
we didn't have to do it in-house. We would even accept a reasonable
percentage (1-2%) of defective units, which can be repaired at our facility.

Best regards,

Vitaliy

2008\11\24@052424 by John Day

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At 11:21 PM 11/23/2008, you wrote:

>Ack!... I was posting this from Nabble in the [EE] sub-forum, but changed the
>tag to [OT], and forgot to change to the other sub-forum.
>
>China still does not seem to be a good option for the low-volume folks, such
>as myself.  My usual batches are ~500 pcs at a time, but I find that lately
>I'm doing specialized versions of my products to specific customers'
>requests -- mostly just different layouts, but very short runs of under a
>couple hundred pieces each.

I have had a lot of success, as have clients, with http://myropcb.com
who have offices here in Canada to support the North American market
with seemingly knowledgeable production and engineering talent. Just
recently they did a series of jobs for me, including a 150 piece
fab/assemble run and a 200 piece fab/assemble along with another
longer run. We supplied the parts. Total time from "soup to nuts" was
under 4 weeks including shipping to North America.

Their on-line quoting system seems to work well and in fact so far
they have always billed us the price that system generated. Unless it
is an unusual quote requirement the system generates the quote in moments.

I supply gerbers, NC drill files and pick-place files, all generated
automatically by Altium Designer which is my choice for EDA software
and a box of components. They like things in reels but are happy to
handle cut tape.

>   Part of the reason I'm looking into my own
>equipment is that the quote cycle time for each product or even each version
>of a product is significant and it makes short runs very painful.  It's
>amazing how much time I can waste just going back and forth with CEMs trying
>to get quotes.

That is certainly true with CEMs in North America. Most of them
really don't want to do the low volume, price sensitive jobs.

However just recently these people:
http://www.electrocircuit.com/index.html have done a job for me with
100 of one board (through hole hand soldered, 100 pieces), 650 of
another (2 sided, SMD components on both sides) and 150 of another
with components on one side only. Price was in fact competitive with
China. End to end time was about two weeks, we supplied parts, they
supplied everything else.

For another client I have used: http://bramtronics.com also. They did
an excellent job, very knowledgeable staff and pricing for fab and
assemble was not out of line with Chinese prices.

>   I'm thinking I can cater to those in a similar situation --
>at least for a short time to help offset the machine costs.

I know folk who have tried the same thing. Usually they have ended up
costing me more to use! They require a lot more hand-holding from me,
have less experience and detailed knowledge about the processes
involved. And in the end most of them have regretted the decision not
to use CEMs, whether local or Chinese. Because they end up spending
far more time and effort doing what they are not so expert at.

Regards, John


{Quote hidden}

2008\11\24@082918 by Alden Hart
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I just did a project using Mettrix Technologies
(http://www.mettrix.com/) for short run PCB and manufacture - 200 units.
They were quite good and reasonably priced, with fast turn as well. We
had some component problems (my supplier, not theirs) that they helped
me work through. They are located in New York state and can do offshore
as well.

Alden


John Day wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\11\24@090229 by Funny NYPD

picon face
That's an interesting business thought.
If you can provide something unique, you should have no issue to survive.
Please don't give up easily.

Funny N.
Au Group Electronics, http://www.AuElectronics.com




________________________________
From: Olin Lathrop <spam_OUTolin_piclistTakeThisOuTspamembedinc.com>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 8:43:42 AM
Subject: Re: [EE] [OT] Market for low-volume PCB assembly?

Marc Nicholas wrote:
{Quote hidden}

But both these require that he does more than the usual contract
manufacturer, not less.  Requiring someone to show up with stencil and
centroid file is the opposite of guiding them thru their first production
run.

Neil, you won't be able to compete on price.  That means you either don't
get into the business (I think the smarter choice) or provide some sort of
premium service like Marc is suggesting.  Of course that would cost several
times per unit what Djula would charge for the same thing but with less hand
holding.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2008\11\24@090741 by Funny NYPD

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That's a place very close to IBM headquarter, and not so far from New York City, isn't it?

Funny N.
Au Group Electronics, http://www.AuElectronics.com




________________________________
From: Alden Hart <alden04spamKILLspamharts.org>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <.....piclistKILLspamspam.....mit.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 8:28:48 AM
Subject: Re: [EE] Market for low-volume PCB assembly?

I just did a project using Mettrix Technologies
(http://www.mettrix.com/) for short run PCB and manufacture - 200 units.
They were quite good and reasonably priced, with fast turn as well. We
had some component problems (my supplier, not theirs) that they helped
me work through. They are located in New York state and can do offshore
as well.

Alden


John Day wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\11\24@091310 by Alden Hart

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I believe they are in Poughkeepsie, NY. I first heard of them via
PIClist discussion about a year and a half ago.

Alden


Funny NYPD wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\11\24@093827 by Funny NYPD

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I checked their web site, basically a single page web. The address listed are very close to east fishkill on the google map.

Funny N.
Au Group Electronics, http://www.AuElectronics.com




________________________________
From: Alden Hart <@spam@alden04KILLspamspamharts.org>
To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public. <KILLspampiclistKILLspamspammit.edu>
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 9:12:38 AM
Subject: Re: [EE] Market for low-volume PCB assembly?

I believe they are in Poughkeepsie, NY. I first heard of them via
PIClist discussion about a year and a half ago.

Alden


Funny NYPD wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\11\24@101640 by olin piclist

face picon face
Funny NYPD wrote:
> If you can provide something unique, you should have no issue to
> survive.

Only if the market actually wants it.  You don't want to be the answer to a
question nobody asked.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2008\11\24@102924 by Alden Hart

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The website isn't much, but they were pretty organized in dealing with
them. I see that Hopewell junction is about 15 miles from Poughkeepsie
and also very close to Fishkill.

Alden


Funny NYPD wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2008\11\25@202948 by Vitaliy

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>> If you can provide something unique, you should have no issue to
>> survive.
>
> Only if the market actually wants it.  You don't want to be the answer to
> a
> question nobody asked.

I agree that it would be tough, but I did present a problem that could
benefit from Neil's solution. We have very expensive (tens of dollars)
components, that need to be mounted on a small PCB with a handful of
penny-a-piece components. We get ridiculous quotes (some as high as
$20/board, when our cost to build by hand, in-house, is roughly 1/10 of
that), because the CM expects to "lose" a percentage of the expensive
modules.

Shipping time and expense is another concern, we would prefer to build a
small-ish quantity at a time (300?) to keep the inventory costs down.

Vitaliy

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