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Prototype Assy - Issues

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Prototype Assy - Issues | 7 May, 2009

Hi, I'm a newbie here but I've lurked about this forum in the past! I'm an experienced PCB Designer I've found myself out of work due to the economy so I'm attempting to start out as a freelancer, I've found that more than a few of the smaller R&D firms have expressed an interest in a full turnkey solution - layout + proto-type assembly ( in fact more so the assembly). According to them getting 5 to 20 Proto-types built is a problem as in no-one is bothered in dealing with that type of work? I'm wondering is that because the set-up time/cost makes it too much hassle?

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Prototype Assy - Issues | 13 May, 2009

my guess is yes or they are just lazy. if you quote a job then you should know up front what you have to do. i am in the business of building 1 to 10,000 boards, and understanding that not every job is fun, but that's the nature of the beast. if you need anything let me know i will be more than happy to give you a competitive quote.

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Prototype Assy - Issues | 13 May, 2009

A lot of the problems with very small proto runs is that there is little profit in it. It seems to be getting worse with small start ups with no configuration management, half baked documentation, and no concept of manufacturing, pushing on proto shops to fill in all the blanks and deliver quick turns but with volume pricing because of the expectation of big things to come. You end up putting hours and hours of extra work into it that you never get paid for. And you may or may not see the production work for your efforts.

Proto work can be lucrative if you are lean and clean, and have your act together. And you have the talent to fill in the blanks. But that talent costs, and you have to be careful of who you work with.

Another big risk is material. After the debacle of 99/01, inteligent shops are wary of commiting large amounts of funds to fronting material for some start up with big ideas and poor excecution. With the economy diving, a lot of small shops have gone under with the weight of stale material bought based on someone's big dreams.

Be vary careful you you commit yourself to. As Richard Branson said repeatedly in his latest book, take the risk, but always be sure you can handle the downside before you leap.

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