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Most PCBs are individually routed—meaning they're not panelized. That doesn't mean that, sometimes, sending them to a PCB assembler in a panel isn't a good idea or even required. Generally, assemblers don't require panels—sometimes called a pallet—but there are some cases when they do.
If the individual PCB, destined for full prototyping service, is smaller than 0.75" x 0.75", it needs to be panelized. If a PCB needing short run production service is less than 16 square inches, it needs to be in a panel of at least 16 square inches to qualify for short run.
Why else might you want to panelize PCBs?
- Protection: If you've got a lot of small boards, it's easier to handle and protect then when they're in a panel. A few panels can be more safely packed coming and going from your company to an assembler.
- Safety: You may be able to get the boards through a factory faster. If you have a really large number and need them quickly, panelizing them may enable that fast turn. With a lot of boards, sometimes it simply isn't physically possible to put them all on the machine, run them and take them off, in a short turn time. Panelize them and the machine will be running longer for each board change, which reduces the total run time.
- Cost: It may also cost you less. If you use leadless parts like BGAs, QFNs or LGAs, you can usually reduce your cost a bit by panelizing the boards. Leadless parts cost a little extra because of the X-ray test needed, but the extra handling is mostly per board, rather than per part. One panel of 10 boards with 10 BGA, in total, will cost a little less than 10 individual boards with one BGA each.
Chintan Sutaria, CalcuQuote
Excess inventory is a ubiquitous issue in the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry, and it is made worse by the complexity and volatility of the modern supply chain. Considered an unavoidable cost of doing business, unchecked inventory cost has wreaked havoc on manufacturers without strict controls in place to keep their businesses safe. Excess inventory is not only costly for manufacturers themselves, but also for their end customers. Unwillingly, manufacturers are sometimes forced to eat this cost to avoid disrupting relationships with their customers and with the hope of making up the losses in next year’s orders from the customer.
Zac Elliott, Siemens Digital Industries Software
Let’s face it, in the past, electronics manufacturing has not been a big business for North America. A majority of electronics are assembled in Asia where supply chains and operating costs offer many economic advantages. In North America, the electronics manufacturing industry has been generally focused on lower volume, high-cost devices, while higher volume products are produced elsewhere. However, the COVID pandemic and various legislation in the U.S. are changing the situation, making electronics manufacturing in North America a more attractive option. How can factories in North America compete for the same type of manufacturing traditionally performed in lower-cost regions?
I-Connect007 Editorial Team
No doubt you will relate to Foad Ghalili when he expresses his concerns about rising input costs to doing business, from getting the right components, to delivery times, and price increases. But what’s unique for the president of Epoch International is the way his company has leveraged its U.S. and China operations to make the most of the other thing on everyone’s mind—the labor shortage. If you’re not already implementing his ideas, you will walk away from this interview with some sure-fire tips.