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Export For Manufacturing

Prerequisites:

  • Prototyped and debugged design
  • Funding or pre-sales sufficient to cover manufacturing costs

Tools:

  • Design tool (Gerber Export)
  • ERP system (Inventory & Supplier Contacts)
  • Spreadsheet software

Next Step:

Much of this stage overlaps with building an archive for prototyping, we recommend you review that section before proceeding.

Depending on your supplier arrangement you need to begin building an archive for each of them. Think of the archive as their guidebook to building your design. In addition to the files you collected in the prototyping stage you want to include any lessons you learned in your previous debugging and prototyping, any ECOs (Engineering Change Orders), and a test plans for qualifying your design through manufacturing.

The archive, should probably be a .zip file and it should be structured as following, most of the files are documented in the prototyping section:

TODO: insert an example archive including a template .zip file [[ your company ]]_[[ board name ]]_[[ version ]].zip

  • readme.txt
  • assembly_info
    • assembly_spec.txt
    • bom.csv
    • centroids.txt
  • design_files
    • design_[[ version ]].json
    • link_to_online_design_viewer.url
  • manufacturing_info
    • manufacturing_spec.txt
    • drill_files
      • [[ long list of excellon drill files ]]
    • gerber_files
      • [[ long list of gerber files ]]
  • misc
    • [[ anything else you think they will need ]]
  • eco
    • [[ any engineering change orders ]]
  • testing
    • [[ test plan, test jig details & test software ]]

There are templates for all of these files in the reference section below. But here is a quick walkthrough of the files not included in the prototyping section and why they’re needed.

eco

Place all of the eco documents required to rev a PCA from freshly manufactured through to the latest version here. They should be very explicit documents that walk the operator step by step through applying the ECO, including pictures if possible.

testing

This folder should detail any testing you expect the manufacturers to do. There will be a process which will probably include a test jig and some amount of test software. As a product matures so should the testing done by the manufacturer as any stock received, despite how defective it is, will often be unreturnable and a cost burden on your company.

Once you have collected all the files you need and assembled your archive you need to start contacting your mass-manufacturing suppliers. If possible it may be worth sticking to your prototype suppliers, or running small volumes with your prototype suppliers while you turn on a larger production scale process. There are also a number of developed world service providers that can also help you make the transition into lower cost countries.

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