You have a unique technological idea that does not currently exist. You wonder how you can share this idea with a company that is technical and has the capability to design and put it to market. The design process itself is very long and complex and requires many specific steps. These are also the steps that people who are not technologically privy are unable to do themselves. You will need a prototype assembly manufacturing company that has the ability to design and create your unique technological item.
Obtain legal rights
It is likely that you will be shopping around at multiple small batch PCB manufacturing companies to find the one that will design and produce your product. For this reason, you will want to obtain the necessary legal rights to the product. This prevents the people you speak to from stealing your intellectual property and designing and producing the product as their own. If they were to beat you to market, they could claim the majority of the market, before you ever have your product fully designed. You will want to work with an intellectual property and patent attorney on obtaining these necessary legal rights.
Request PCB assembly quotes
You will want to request the final PCB assembly quote. This is a quote of the costs the small batch PCB manufacturing company will charge you for design and production. This is likely to be your biggest comparative feature among small batch PCB companies. However, in addition to the price quote, you will want to pay specific attention to the types of services and manufacturing items they will include. This will also be important in your comparative details.
Request turnaround times
The turnaround time is also an important question to ask of your turnkey PCB manufacturing company. A long turnaround time increases the chances that someone else comes along with a similar product and takes over intended market. It also increases the chance of losing money, depending on how your contracts are detailed.
Also, most copywright and intellectual property patents have a specified time limit until others can join the market. If the small batch PCB process takes too long, you could risk inviting others to compete with you. A single automatic line can place and solder more components than 50 hand solder operators, and do it better, with more consistent quality. This makes manufacturing companies ideal over single hand producers.
Types of materials used
Do not sacrifice time or price for a cheaper made product. Your intended customers will notice the low quality item and this may prevent them from purchasing it. It also opens the market for larger companies to develop a similar product with higher grade materials, causing you to lose a lot of money. A fast PCB prototype is not always beneficial if it means reducing the overall quality of the product. A heavy copper PCB is ideal, meaning it is a printed circuit board with copper thickness or more than 3 Oz in inner or outer layers.
Always complete PCB inspections
It can also be harmful to your business to assume that everything is going as planned. Always request regular PCB inspections of your product. You are paying for their services and designs, after all, and you have a right to also inspect the product. If you do not have the technical knowledge required to properly inspect it, hire someone who does.
The design and PCB turnkey business is a huge industry. In fact, the revenue of circuit board and electronic component manufacturing in the U.S. ranged at about $44 billion in 2014. If you have ownership of a unique electronic or technological design, carefully consider your design and production options. You always want to protect your intellectual property with the services of a patent attorney, shop around for manufacturers, request high quality materials, do not sacrifice quality for time, but find something that can turn your product around relatively quick. Also, remember to regularly inspect your product.