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Understanding Fiducial Markers on PCBs

January 14, 2021

By Zack Keas

With a better understanding of What is Needed to Quote Your Circuit Board Assembly, I would now like to discuss Fiducial Markers and the advantages they offer to yield the best possible placement of SMT components.

When your custom PCB is fed into our SMT Pick and Place machines for SMT component placement, the first process our SMT Pick and Place machines look for are the three (3) fiducial markers to recognize the X and Y position of the PCB.  Why is that important, because with a known X and Y position baseline, the SMT Pick and Place machines can optimally place the SMT components.

Now that you know more about the importance of fiducial markers, here are recommendations on how to incorporate them into your custom PCB design.

The fiducial marker is made by placing a non-drilled copper layer in a circular shape.  The fiducial marker must be free from solder mask.

The optimum size of a fiducial marker should be between 1.5mm and 3mm. A clearance area similar to the diameter of the marker must be maintained.

The fiducial marker must maintain a distance of 0.3 inches to the edge of the board, excluding the clearance area of the fiducial marker.

While having fiducial markers on the PCB is ideal, if your board is already in production, or if due to regulatory requirements, adding fiducial markers is not possible, SMD can add these fiducial markers to the breakaway PCB border, aka PCB rails.

SMD is happy to answer any questions you have.  Contact US today and we look forward to hearing from you.

Customer Survey Results Q3 2020

By Zack Keas on November 19, 2020

An integral part of ISO 9001:2015 is customer satisfaction. If you are not already working with SMD, does your current supplier obtain, monitor, measure, analyze and evaluate your degree of customer satisfaction? If not, how does your supplier continuously improve? Every six months SMD sends a survey to our customers asking for their feedback regarding Quality, Delivery, Quote Turnaround and Overall Satisfaction with SMD. Via SurveyMonkey, we are pleased to be meeting or exceeding our customers’ expectations for quality, delivery and overall satisfaction, and continuously improving quote turnaround. Our Net Promoter® Score placed us in the top 25% of more than 161,000 global benchmark companies with zero detractors.

Contact Us if you would like this level of service and thank to you all our customers completing the survey.

What is Needed to Quote Your Circuit Board Assembly

June 22, 2020

By Zack Keas

I am often asked, what does SMD need to provide a quotation. I thought it would be helpful to elaborate on what SMD requires at a minimum.

SMD works with the top electronics distributors to evaluate your component stock amount, pricing, and lead-time should stock not be available.

SMD works with both domestic and offshore PCB fabricators to meet the needs and requirements your custom PCB requires.

SMD also provides Cable and Wiring Harness Assemblies. Customers like the convenience of having SMD supply both their circuit board assembly and cable/wiring harness needs and requirements.

Contact Us for your quotation, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Industry Update Regarding Cypress

https://www.cypress.com/file/505856/download

Customer Survey Results Q1 2020

By Zack Keas on April 30, 2020

 

An integral part of ISO 9001:2015 is customer satisfaction.  If you are not already working with SMD, does your current supplier obtain, monitor, measure, analyze and evaluate your degree of customer satisfaction? If not, how does your supplier continuously improve?  Every six months SMD sends a survey to our customers asking for their feedback regarding Quality, Delivery, Quote Turnaround and overall Satisfaction with SMD.  Via SurveyMonkey, we are pleased to be meeting or exceeding our customers’ expectations for quality, delivery and overall satisfaction, and continuously improving quote turnaround.  Our Net Promoter® Score placed us in the top third of more than 151,000 global benchmark companies with zero detractors.

Contact Us if you would like this level of service and thank to you all our customers completing the survey.

SMD to exhibit at Southeast Design-2-Part Show

SMD is coming to Southeast Design-2-Part Show in Raleigh, NC.

SMD will be exhibiting at the 2018 Southeast Design-2-Part Show in Raleigh October 10-11 at the Raleigh Convention Center

Visit SMD at booth 350, and meet one of the leading electronics contract manufacturers in the Southwest to learn more about our experience in manufacturing circuit board assemblies.

Learn more about this event

2018 Central Texas Manufacturing Expo & Conference

SMD will be at the 2018 Central Texas Manufacturing Expo & Conference in Austin, TX.

SMD will be exhibiting at the 2018 Central Texas Manufacturing Expo & Conference in Austin September 13th at Palmer Events Center

The expo will feature over 80 vendors showcasing advanced products, capabilities, and services. A full day of panels and presentations will explore trends in automation, smart factories, logistics and industry updates, and lean leadership.

Visit SMD at booth 216, and meet one of the leading electronics contract manufacturers in the Southwest to learn more about our experience in manufacturing circuit board assemblies.

Learn more about this event

Sales Manager Zack Keas speaking at the 2017 UAS Tech Forum

Sales Manager Zack Keas speaking at the 2017 UAS Tech Forum in Wichita, Kansas about how SMD (Surface Mount Depot) can support the unmanned aerial systems industry with their custom-designed circuit board assemblies, cables and wiring harnesses, and electromechanical (box build) assemblies.

SMD Has “No margin for error”

Learn more about SMD in this article from NewsOK.

Five things to consider when choosing an electronics contract manufacturer

1. Quality Control – When you sign a project over to a contract manufacturer (CM), the production is somewhat out of your hands. The single most important thing to consider when choosing an electronics contract manufacturer is quality control. Look for a CM that you trust to communicate issues to you before and during the production process. This could save your company a lot of money and save you a big headache.

Ask your CM what quality control procedures they have in place. They should have the proper certifications for your specific product application and should be able to answer any questions you have about the production of your product.

2. Contractor Relationship – This should tie for number one on the list because it is such a crucial factor in choosing a CM.  You should be mindful of how you click with the program managers/engineers, because if you like them, you may be working with them for a long time! Your first project with the right CM could blossom into a relationship that lasts for years.

Part of determining who you should choose as your CM is a gut reaction. If you have a bad feeling about a CM, use someone else. You should feel comfortable leaving your project in your CM’s hands.

Beyond trusting the CM, you should ask your CM who your point-of-contact will be with the company. Will you have one liaison to manage your project? Or will you be responsible for contacting different staff members within their organization? You should be comfortable communicating your company’s needs and concerns with your point-of-contact. Choose someone you and your coworkers will enjoy working with if a problem arises.

3. Capacity – Some manufacturers may simply be unable to take on high volume projects. You should choose a CM that can accommodate your specific needs. If you have a prototype, you may be better off choosing a CM that can do quick-turn, low volume products. If you have a high volume order, you may choose a CM that specializes in high volume production.

Either way, if you choose a contractor that is already operating at maximum capacity, your electronics assembly or other project could suffer during a busy production period. When you’re searching for a contract manufacturer, you should ask if that CM has room to accommodate your project. Ask what the plan of action is if they earn enough business to be operating at maximum capacity. Do they have room to grow?

4. Cost – Just as with anything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you request a quote from a company and it seems abnormally low, you should ask them the reason for the pricing.

A competitively-priced quote isn’t an indication of poor quality control. In fact, many high-quality contractors are able to offer competitive pricing. Just make sure you trust the CM you choose to do your project well and ask for an explanation of each costs when you request a quote or receive your invoice.

When beginning on your project, you should determine if price or delivery are of higher importance to you. You will find that quick-turn projects may cost more than projects with a standard lead time. You also may find that the volume of the product can affect the cost.

Do your homework when searching for a CM and choose the contractor that best fits your needs and budget.

5. Location of production – There are a number of pros and cons to consider when choosing between an American or offshore CM. This is very specific to your company’s and your project’s specific needs.

No matter what, you need to be able to communicate freely with your contract electronics manufacturer. With labor costs rising overseas, it may be more affordable to hire an American company than you think.

When you contact a potential CM ask them why you should use their company as opposed to a foreign or domestic source. They should be able to give you an answer that is specific to your project.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a CM, but if you consider each of the above tips into your decision-making, you will be able to make a more educated choice when it is time to begin production on your project.