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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked PCB manufacturing and assembly questions

General Questions

  • What are your PCB capabilities?

    We provided a full range of manufacturing facilities from our US-based facilities. Click here to read our capabilities.

  • How can I get a quote?

    Our website has a unique online ordering tool great for easy-to-build projects. For more complex designs or if you have questions about getting started, fill out our Contact Us form and we will get right back to you.

  • What files and data do I need to send you to get a quote and place an order?

    The files required depend on the type of service you are requesting.

    For board-only orders, we require:

    • Data Files (Gerber RS274x or ODB++)
    • Fabrication Drawing

    Optional (include in zip file):

    • IPC-D-356A netlist file
    • Custom requirements (mask, finish, etc.)

    For Orders that include assembly, we require:

    • 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.
  • Are you RoHs compliant?

    Yes we are. Click here to see our certifications.

  • Can I track the status of my order?

    All of our customers have access to their customized Customer Portal. In this portal, you can see where your project is in our manufacturing process and track your order once it has shipped. More portal features are frequently being added – so keep checking back!

  • How does shipping and handling work?

    We use FEDEX and UPS 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.

  • I don’t know much about PCB design. Where should I start?

    We have been fabricating and assembling PCBs for many years and believe in sharing our knowledge with all designers. Visit our resource center for blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars and more.

  • How many boards in an order will you accept?

    Years ago we started out as a quick-turn, prototype and low-volume PCB shop. However, over time our capabilities and capacities have increased, allowing us to accept some production size orders as well. However, we are not a production Contract Electronics Manufacturer (CEM.) If you have a larger order (+100) contact us directly to discuss specifics. Also, if you have small boards or a panelized array then let us know. We want to say yes to everyone but we will not overpromise and underdeliver.

Full Turnkey Manufacturing

  • 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. Read “Tips to Preparing a Kit” for overage guidelines. 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.

  • Why do you need our BOMs with all the “extra” data?

    The extra data such as manufacturing part number and name is used by our purchasing department to ensure we are purchasing the correct components for your build. 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.

  • What is XYRS and why do you need it?

    The XYRS is simply the information needed to place (or find) a component on the assembly. It is used by our automated pick & place machines. 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.

  • Why do you need Gerber data for assembly?

    Gerber layers for each side having SMT or through-hole components placed help us determine the following:

    • Copper is for verification of pad location and scaling
    • Paste is for stencil / paste printer file generation
    • Silk is for reference designator location and rotation verification
  • When does your promised “Turn Time” start?

    The clock begins when we have your data finalized and approved, and all the necessary parts/boards in-hand to assemble. Remember, we are Prototype and Quick Turn Specialists!  Standard turn time for most orders is 5 business days. Data and materials must be received by 10am MST to be counted for that day.

  • 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.

  • hat happens if you receive incorrect components or not the correct quantity? In other words, you discover shortages.

    In all cases, our receiving inspection of your parts will be based on our BOM, your packing list, the actual parts, and (if available) the kitting labels! We will contact you as soon as this problem is discovered, which will allow you to drop-ship missing or incorrect components, request that we hold the job, or simply no-stuff/no-load the parts in question.

  • How many extra parts do you require?

    We don’t experience much loss, but to be safe we appreciate having a minimum amount of overages.  Please ask your sales reps. for current overage guidelines. Parts that are properly shipped in anti-static carriers or in moisture sensitive packaging will be treated with care both while being inventoried and placed. Any unused parts are returned with your job.

  • How do you ‘count’ transformers?

    If our pick-n-place machine can handle it then it is SMT. If not, then it should be priced as a hand-load. This is true even if it has SMT pads shown on the PCB. Call us directly if you have questions regarding Odd-Form SMT components.

  • We have a custom ‘in-house’ component. Will you place it for us?

    Certainly! However, if it is an SMT component, we will need package/decal information. (pins, pitch, width, height) A datasheet would be useful.

  • Is there anything special I need to do with the order from my parts vendor (i.e. Digikey) or my on-hand kit inventory?

    Ask your sales rep. for our guide to preparing a kit. It’s a great reference.  Also, keep an eye out for custom kitting labels our team will email you for all consignment builds. Using our kit labels is required, but it is a great 100%, pre-shipping, inventory verification step! It will also help us make the same check when we receive your parts.

PCB Manufacturing

  • From which CAD systems do you accept data?

    We will accept data from almost any CAD program used today.  Orcad, Protel, Eagle, Power PCB or Pads, Cam350, and PCAD are examples of the most commonly used, however we welcome the opportunity to develop additional interfaces. Just let us know what you are using.

  • Why do I need to panelize my boards?

    Panelization is needed when your PCB dimension is smaller our minimum board size or  when your PCB is of any shapes (circular, or odd shape) other than rectangle. You can pre-panelize at your side, or we can also panelize for you.

  • How long have you been manufacturing PCBs?

    Combined our companies have been in the PCB business for nearly 70 years. We have built more than 70,000 unique PCB designs in the past decade.

MSIRobot