johnnyc wrote:I appreciate your enthusiasm for stencils and reflow for assembly. Indeed, at one point I was doing this for small run circuit boards. At some point I got frustrated and gave up.
I don't actually use stencils that much because I normally just do one-off's. But I don't find it to be a huge hassle to hand assemble a prototype or two (I go down to 0.5mm QFN's and 0402 passives). The time for assembly is nothing compared to producing a decent BOM/sourcing parts. I've used a stencil once with not-so-great results, but I'm blaming most of the failure to stencil quality and a lack of a decent fixture (see link above:)). I also don't do that many boards since I also do firmware (which can take forever and a day).
johnnyc wrote:I am interested though in what's offered for assembly, and hearing anyone's thoughts. For some reason, there's still no "ponoko" or "oshw" of assembly as far as I can tell: a quick, easy, and reasonably priced place to get prototypes made. Maybe it's just too complicated to do assembly?
I think part of it is due to the type of work involved, you either need skilled labor or automated machines (which require setup time and a skilled tech to "program" them). It's funny that you mentioned ponoko - another member was noting that it doesn't take too many orders from them to buy a 3D printer yourself:)
Here's another place I've talked with, they're mainly into cable harnesses, SMD rework, and elector-mechanical assemblies, but the owner said that they'd do PCB runs as well (proto runs in house, larger runs through a partner). Based on his description of their pricing structure, they sounded viable for small runs/prototypes, but I haven't done any quotes with them yet:Wunsch Technologies
There are a slew of other ECM's that I've dealt with, but nobody that comes close to the pricing you're looking for.
johnnyc wrote:I'm going to check the price with Advanced Circuits. A few years ago when I started doing PCB's, I used them. Then I moved on to less expensive companies.
I still use them at work for boards that will be recurring because they'll wave production tooling if you get proto's made through them (although this is only true if the copper doesn't change). I've started using less expensive options for smaller boards, but AC's pricing really isn't that bad for larger area boards. If you do quote an assembly through Advanced Circuits, please post back!