Frequently Asked Questions

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What files and data do I need to send you to confirm pricing and place an order?

We require the following files for every PCB assembly order:

  • CAD-Generated BOM List (.xls spreadsheet) – The BOM needs reference designators, value, package/decal, description, and part number
  • CAD-Generated Component Location XYRS File (also known as Parts Position/Rotation File or the Machine Pick ‘N Place File) – Each CAD system will generate this, if requested.
  • CAD-Generated Gerber Files – For top/bottom copper, silkscreen, and solderpaste.  (We don’t need the soldermask file, but it’s okay to include in the .zip file.)
  • Board X, Y, 0, 0 Reference Designators – Board fiducial marks are appreciated by not required.

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What part formats do you accept?

Our unique handling system is designed to automatically feed loose parts, but we accept any format. We gladly accept parts in cut tape, trays, tubes, reels, even bags if necessary. If you are ordering cut-tape from a vendor, please request a continuous strip for the order quantity plus overage. We will provide bar coded part tags that you can securely attach to each part container. Drop ship your parts to us, and make sure they have our build number with them for identification.

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How do you handle shipping and handling?

We prefer to use FEDEX Overnight and can use a customer-provided shipping number if requested. All shipping is sent insured. This handling fee includes all costs incurred with anti-static packaging and processes. Examples of materials include anti-static bubble wrap, bags, and foam in some cases. The fee also includes anti-static handling of kits and returning parts. Due to improved manufacturing processes we have recently reduced this fee by 50%.

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Why isn't the online quote the firm / final quote?

If your data and design matches the data input to the online price calculator, then it is the same. Often, the initial data we receive is not the final or correct data needed for proper PCB assembly. Things can change with a printed circuit board design as it goes through the design/layout process. Consequently, data files and placement configurations may not be updated or synchronized upon submission to us. We will also verify the component counts and stuff configurations, fin pitch and line item counts, turn time and board quantity. After reviewing your files, we will send you a formal quote for your final approval and authorization. The quote will include line item detail for PCB assembly costs, set up fees, stencil expenses as necessary, and any promotional discounts currently being offered. We also include complete documentation “deliverables” which you can use to verify both our quote and the integrity of your data. These “deliverables” allow you, the customer, to verify that all information received relates to the same revision of a board and that all is ready for a successful build.

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What exactly are these other documentation "deliverables"?

Along with our quote you will also receive:

  • Production Bill of Materials (BOM) and Purchasing BOM .pdf showing exactly which parts we believe will be SMT, hand-load, and No-Stuff/No-Load.
  • Smart .pdf – An interactive assembly graphic/document allowing the mouse cursor to show reference designators and BOM information.
  • Kit Label .pdf – Printable labels showing reference designators, part numbers, description, and bar code.

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Why do you need our BOMs with all the "extra" data?

This is what our purchasing department uses. It really has little to do with our CAD system. This may be true and we do not want to cause anyone wasted effort, however please consider this simple example of a common BOM problem:

A single keystroke error could result in describing a part as being a SSOP, but SSOP is not a valid package type. Should it have been a TSSOP or a SOP…or even a TSOP?

The part number is what we would use to be sure your received part is correct. So, asking for a reference designator, value, package/decal, description, and part number are all verification checks. Quality and accuracy are most important to us.

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What is XYRS and why do you need it? No other assembly house has asked for it.

You are probably right, but no other company assembles low-volume boards using fully automated machines for all place-able SMTs.

Did you know that a portion of the cost and time needed when using a production assembly house may include a hidden “one time” cost for the hand placing of ALL SMT “parts”? This is done so the pick-n-place machine can learn the XYRS information! This placement effort is usually based solely on gerber land patterns.

We hope to avoid this cost and human intensive operation by getting the information directly from your CAD system output. Every CAD system can generate this information. The XYRS is simply the information needed to place (or find) a component on the assembly. The (XY) information is in inches, MM, or Mils; and is measured from a given board origin. The (R) rotation is in degrees clock-wise (0, 45, 90, etc.). The (S) side is usually defaulted to the top side, but can be expressed as Top/Bottom or even 0/1.

Please note: The XY information should represent the centroid of the part as opposed to the Pin 1 location as that is what the pick-n-place machine needs to use.

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Why do you need Gerbers?

For each side having SMT or through-hole components that we will be populating:

  • Copper is for verification of pad location and scaling
  • Paste is for stencil generation
  • Silk is for reference designator location and rotation verification

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Why do you need Silk Gerber Layer?

The silk layer normally includes POLARITY information and reference designators for parts. From diodes and polarized caps to QFNs and BGAs, orientation is critical. If your CAD system is “weak” in calling out the rotation, then the visible information contained in the silk is our best check. That doesn’t include the requirements of a repair tech or a QA inspector.

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