Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

Novice to manufacturing - so many questions!

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I'm working on a consumer electronic product that's rather.... large. It's more or less a large array of duplicated circuits. Rough specifications:

* 8 layers (1oz)
* 450x420mm
* 2000 SMT components
* ~25 unique BOM
* Initial production run - 5k units

This is the first product that I've ever tried to bring to market. I've been thinking about a few different options - either have it built entirely in China, or use a factory in my hometown (Toronto, Canada). There is value to having the production local, but I'm not sure if the price increase will be too high to justify it. I'm hoping the large size of the PCB will put more of the cost/unit into materials than labour. I also understand that setting up production in China would probably involve a trip over there, which I'm able to do.

My second problem is component sourcing. Most of the SMT components are 2 channel discrete mosfets, like the one in my prototype. I need over 1,000 of that part alone, per board. The cheapest mosfet I can find from Digikey or Mouser, even in extreme volume, is $0.05. That's $50/board of BOM right there! Compared to this one I found on LCSC. I'd have to assume it'd be even cheaper buying them in the millions straight from the manufacturer.

Some questions:

* How much cheaper would it be to buy components directly from the manufacturer? How indicative are the prices on distributor websites?
* Could it be good to source the components from China, but have the board built here?
* PCBWay's instant quote (with all the details filled out) gave me $60/board in 1000 quantity. Sounded too good to be true. Does this sound right?
* I've heard that it's actually easier to find factories for consumer electronics in China than the US. Can this really be true? Are all the US fabs more focused on higher-cost products?
* Could a North American based Chinese-sourcing company be worth using? Do they typically charge a fixed amount, or take a %?
Finally, if there's anything else I'm not aware of, please do tell! I'm very new.

PCBWay is the only Chinese fabricator/assembler that I have used.  They will buy parts from Digi-Key or other big distributor, if you want them to.  Otherwise, I would suggest getting samples of anything special other than resistors and capacitors.  PCBWay is VERY good, I don't think you actually need to travel there to get this done, unless there is something really special about your board.  This is their business, and they know it well.


--- Quote ---PCBWay's instant quote (with all the details filled out) gave me $60/board in 1000 quantity.
--- End quote ---

Is this the bare PCB with your BOM + PCB assembly fees?

We are down the 401 in Windsor, Ontario and have used assorted PCB assembly houses in Toronto / Markham with mixed reviews. Locally, they wish to retire off a single project. Been to HK many times over the past 20+ years and was in Shenzhen this last October for Nepcon, China. China will offer a very discounted PCBA fee with hopes of making a markup on the BOM. Often this results in a misunderstanding of the true PCBA fee. That is, for a quote of say $1.50 - $2.00 USD per board in 1k qty resulted in actually $10-$15 USD per board by the time they included their parts kitting service. Their claim is that they cannot trust the random kit of parts we wish to drop ship to their factory. They do not want to have finger pointing on who to blame if the PCBA does not work as designed.

If using offshore, be ready for some very late hour chats with the factory. They will hold the SMT line for '15 minutes' for your approval else the product will run as per their golden sample - good or bad. Be 1000% sure the product is functional before even considering offshore.

There are many front companies in Asia and fairly sure that PCBWay is one of them. That is, they have other names and the true PCB house is someone else. Most are brokers overseas. Have seen this repeatedly from attending various electronic fairs. Nothing wrong with that as long as you are aware that there is a risk of losing the tooling that you may have purchased. If the middle agent disappears / retires / quits - the tooling will be under their name and not yours. We did get lucky a few times to be able to convince the PCB house (Suntak PCB in this case) that the IP was ours so did not have to pay for fresh tooling.

At the start, do consider local shops to build a solid product. Then go offshore if it makes business sense to you. The customs in China can be anal for no reason other than ' how dare you export goods INTO China - China should be exporting to you ' attitude. We had thousands of HEAVY DSUB connectors we purchased from China -> shipped to Canada -> sent back to China for PCBA -> rejected back to Canada -> then we shipped it back to China using a different courier = HELL and expensive. We lost about 2 months on this dance. Vendor said to just declare the goods for less. So lie about it??? We did not want to do this but were forced to do so. Yup, China made money selling the goods + local taxes and duties were paid + China made money again in importing these parts. So where are the savings?? No savings other than we did not have to deal with the stuck up PCB houses in Canada. We have our own SMT line and other than it takes time, prefer this over offshoring.

In the quantities you're talking I'm not aware of any manufacturers who will sell MOSFETs directly to you.

Most western assembled products use at least some components sourced directly from China, so it's pretty normal to do that and then assemble locally.

Just make sure your not putting the cart before the horse. Are you are unquestionably sure your design is sound before going to volume.

What testing have you done on your prototypes?

How many did you test?

Does it meet all the certifications you require?

Have you considered/calculated your manufacturing test plan and the costs associated with it?

Have you determined import taxes, duties and the CDN$

Prices out of China are MUCH lower than GTA, and often quality is higher unless you go to the expensive assemblers in the GTA.

What CM's in the GTA have provided quotes?


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