sam512bb wrote:Thanks for the info and links. This helps a lot.Most appreciated!
No problem! I'm glad it helped.
To put the rest of this post in context - I'm definitely not trying to talk you out of this. . .
sam512bb wrote:the cost for low volume assembly is quite high to the point where I can buy the Madell unit for less than two low volume assembly runs done here...hence the reason I am exploring my options...
You probably already realize this, but do factor in your time paying the PCB populating learning curve. Most of the setup fees the pro shops are quoting are NRE (usually a few hundred for a local board shop and a few hundred for SMD stencils/tooling/programming, etc). The small DIY-ish crowd can certainly get stencils made less expensively, but it's definitely low volume.
If you search for rsdio and PnP in this forum, you'll probably find some earlier discussions on PnP in-house assembly vs electronic contract manufacturers (ECM's). The consensus is, if you're being paid engineering wages for your time, it's probably wise to get an ECM to do the work for you since you'll wind up with a better quality product earlier and (depending on the quality of the ECM) much less of a headache. I agree with this for medium and high volumes. However, if you're doing "high mix / low volume", it'll probably be extremely hard to justify the cost of sending something out of house to be made - unless you've already worked the expense into the contract (if it's contract work).
All that being said - I certainly wouldn't mind having a PnP sitting on one of my benches/floor ;-)
Lots to consider..