A new PCB prototype service launched at Southern Electronics has proved a big hit with manufacturers seeking to reduce development costs and time-to-market for new products. Oxfordshire-based ALR Services launched its new Panel Sharing Prototype (PSP) service in February this year, and has already secured 23 new customers as a result.
Sales manager, Jo Saltman, said, “We are delighted with the success of our PSP scheme. Not only has it brought us new customers but it’s also proving an invaluable service to our existing client base as well”.
Panel sharing – having boards from several customers produced on one panel – is one way for manufacturers to lower the costs of producing prototypes. However it is not always a successful strategy. In existing schemes, boards are not design-rule checked before production, nor tested afterwards, meaning that a simple error can result in a board that requires re-work before use, or has to be scrapped altogether. Either way, it’s an expensive waste of precious production resources that few companies can afford in the current climate.
With its new added-value PSP service, ALR processes shared panel prototype boards in much the same way as it handles full production boards, ensuring the highest possible quality but at a comparable price to existing “no-frills” services; All PCBs are produced in the UK on top-quality, high Tg FR4 laminate. Design-rules checks are carried out prior to production, and – unlike rival services – finished boards are supplied solder-resist coated and screen printed with component identities and then tested. The finished boards are built to full production specifications giving customers the ability to accurately access their designs.
Crucially, the ALR PSP service includes bare-board testing at no extra cost, with free tooling and an impressive five-day turnaround on double or four-layer boards. Jo added; "Our service will provide a prototype that will give you a true representation of your finished product, at an extremely competitive price.”
The added-value of ALR’s PSP scheme has proved popular with customers, not least because of the ease with which prototypes can be translated to the full production version with the minimum of effort. Jo Saltman commented, “By handling the prototype in the early stages of design, we get to know the board intimately well; any idiosyncrasies are learnt at this early stage, allowing any potential problem areas to be highlighted or designed-out before full production.”
ALR Services PSP boards are produced on 1.6mm High Tg FR4 (Ventec 150) with 1oz finished copper. Green solder resist and white silk screen component identity markings, are available on one or both sides if required. PCBs can be routed and/or scored and employ Lead Free HASL or Nickel Gold with a minimum hole size of 0.3mm.
ALR Services Ltd. is one of the largest printed circuit board brokerages in Europe, providing a wide range of circuit board technologies sourced from both UK and off-shore PCB manufacturers. Established over 15 years ago, the company has built-up a loyal customer base though its innovative business methods, technical expertise and its commitment to added-value customer service.