We are currently in a great time for the electronic products industry. The business is evolving at an unprecedented rate. However, this growth is putting pressure on companies to look more closely at efficiency, design, and manufacturing. As a result, reverse engineering has become a popular practice. It is a tool that is becoming easier to afford and use, and it can improve your bottom line in a highly competitive market.
Levison Enterprises Blog
As tech companies grow, so has the popularity of reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is the process of disassembling a product or component in order to study it to find out how and why it works. From exploring incomplete design data and understanding design flaws to sustaining competition, the advantages of reverse engineering are widespread.
You’ve got a product that just isn’t functioning quite right. Maybe it’s in production, but you’re not convinced it’s going to perform how you originally intended. Or, maybe it’s still in prototype and technically it’s meeting your needs, but already you can imagine some of the future issues that are going to crop up.
You know you have a great product, but as times change, perhaps the product needs to change a little too. A big issue in the tech industry is parts obsolescence. This means there is a continuous need to update successful product designs. Tweaking and troubleshooting a successful product does not equate to reinventing the wheel, and you don't need to rely on pre-made parts because you can fabricate the components you need. How, you ask? It is achieved with some simple reverse engineering.
Most companies adhere to the old adage “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, that philosophy can be hard to stick to in the ever evolving world of electronics. Even with rapid pace electronic breakthroughs, older technologies are still extremely valuable in countless industry applications. These legacy systems, products, and components sometimes just need a little bit of attention to bring them up to date and keep them functional. If you have a great product and you want to keep it viable, you need to update it. Here is how to rebuild your legacy product.
In the world of electronic manufacturing, pre-production work, such as PCB prototyping, is vital to building a cost-efficient, quality product. In a marketplace that demands the latest technology yesterday, we often feel pressure to get right to production.
Printed circuit boards are intricate and perform vital work in your product. Prototyping your PCB is always recommended, but particularly if your product is headed for the consumer market. There are many advantages to PCB prototyping.
Ah. It's the New Year, a time for resolutions and fresh starts. Get healthy, take that vacation, spend more time with the kids, but don’t forget professional resolutions in addition to your personal ones in the New Year. It is time to tackle the big things, like the product you’ve had on the back burner. 2019 is the year of the flux capacitor, after all. Now is the time to take your electronic assembly baby to production, and here is how you are going to do it.
It’s a new year! Time to start thinking about your relationship with your current PCB assembly ECM. Are they really working for you and your best interests?
At the start of a fresh new year, we are inclined to think about where we’ve been and where we’re trying to go. What goals did we achieve last year? What do we hope to accomplish in the new year?
There is no need to scrap a product that doesn't work properly or is obsolete. Give it new life with reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is a way to duplicate a product, subassembly, or component and find out what once made it tick. This is especially handy when you don't have documentation or original drawings for your PCB assembly.
It is sometimes said that PCB design is 90% placement and 10% routing. That may be the case, but both beginners and experienced designers can get caught off guard by simple oversight. It doesn't take much to turn a successful design of a printed circuit board into a high-tech disaster. It is best to know what to watch out for in order to avoid potential problems. Here are some tips to help you avoid function and reliability problems in your PCB design.
You’ve worked hard all year, but there is no rest for the weary. No doubt you are already looking toward projects that need tackling in the new year. Give yourself a gift and find an electronic assembly and manufacturing partner to take some of the workload off your shoulders while still making your electronic project a success.
PCB fabrication and assembly is a pretty straightforward process, however, there are factors early in the production process that could hold up your production and bust your budget before your printed circuit boards are even close to rolling off the assembly line. PCB designs and set ups can vary greatly, and so can the price to produce them.
Producing a printed circuit board is no easy feat and it’s also not an inexpensive one. When it comes to your electronic assembly you want to get the most bang for your buck without compromising your product.
As electronics evolve and technology becomes more complicated, companies no longer have the facilities or capabilities to assemble PCBs. This is especially true when it comes to prototyping. Turning to an electronic manufacturer to help with the prototyping process just makes sense. Electronic assembly manufacturers are experts in their field. There are a number of advantages to outsourcing your prototype to an electronic manufacturer.
What do we want? Quality products!
When do want them? Yesterday!
Sound about right?
Have you ever thought of a product redesign as a cost-saving process? Typically, we think of redesign as a way to fix a problem or improve a product’s functionality. With rapid advancements in technology and manufacturing processes, a redesign can also mean cost savings.
If you're using an electronic contract manufacturer for your PCB assembly, then you will need to provide a thoroughly defined set of instructions for your board fabrication and PCB assembly, including the selection of components to be used based on the equipment capabilities of your electronic contract manufacturer. Your choice of components will have an impact on the final quality of the assembly as well as the efficiency of the assembly. Keeping that in mind, the following are a few tips on how to select components for PCB assembly optimization:
Through-hole assembly, once the most common electronic assembly technique, has become rare in a world where tiny components with many connectors are the norm. Through-hole assembly is an excellent choice for producing a high-quality PCB assembly, but it cannot perform well when small size is the top priority. In some instances, particularly in unpredictable or extreme environments where high reliability is important, through-hole assembly is still the best way to go.
Obtaining a quote from your electronic contract manufacturer (ECM) for printed circuit board assembly sounds simple. But don't let that impression fool you. Your quote is, perhaps, the most important factors in your PCB assembly project's success or failure.
When you’re choosing an electronics contract manufacturer (ECM), there are lots of options you need to weigh. Whether you’ve already got a concept for your project, or need design help to bring your idea into reality, an important factor to add to your list of considerations is whether or not the ECM has engineering support. While this may seem like just a “nice to have,” when it comes to quality electronics design and manufacturing, engineering support really should be on your “must have” list.
Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are right in the center of the rapidly growing and changing world of electronics. The push for faster, lighter, and more robust electronics products has given birth to multiple ways to use PCBs in order to meet those demands. One way that printed circuit boards have been shown to help increase these capabilities is by use of the multi-layer printed circuit board.
Flexible electronics. A generation ago, we thought that a flexible electronic meant you could hoist your boombox up on your shoulder and carry it around. Although this idea of flexibility produced the iconic look of the 1980s, it comes nowhere near what modern flexible electronics can do.
Whether it’s your first time contracting with an electronic contract manufacturer or your hundredth, there are things you want to land in your contract and things you want to avoid. By watching for a few key tells, you can be the kid with all the king-sized candy bars and none of the tricks after trick-or-treating.
It’s that time of year when there just might be a clown or a fright around every corner. But don’t let that stop you from hiring a quality electronic contract manufacturer.
When ISO 9001:2015 rolled out, along with it came the complementary revisions to AS9100, called Revision D. The core concept of risk-based thinking has been placed at the center of both these important standards.
As an industry, aerospace has always held risk management in high regard, given the risky nature of its work. This is why AS9100 takes risk-based thinking a few steps further than ISO 9001.
In order to participate in the aerospace or defense industry, nearly all manufacturers and suppliers must make themselves AS9100 compliant. This set of standards is followed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the United States Department of Defense (DoD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as many large prime contractors in the aerospace industry.
You may have heard that there are new standards in the electronics manufacturing world. Among those are changes to ISO 9001, which now some variations to note between ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2016.
Design for Manufacturing or DFM is a process that aims to make parts, components, and products less expensive by easing their manufacturability. It’s how you avoid getting a very pretty part that cannot function properly. It’s how you avoid manufacturing an outdoor part for your Northern Michigan operation that cannot operate in freezing temperatures. It’s how you avoid a lot of avoidable headaches.
Even with the best designs, supply chain management, and manufacturing standards, mistakes sometimes happen. You don’t go into a project anticipating problems, but good project management means considering what might happen if your product has errors. You’ll want to know ahead of time how your electronics manufacturing service will handle troubleshooting and repair for your electronics manufacturing.
Our commitment to our customers is at the core of everything Levison Enterprises does. The dedication to our high-quality certifications and standards, sets us apart as an electronic contract manufacturer and we know this is reflected in our partnerships with our customers.
Prior to 2006, most of the metallic components in electronic devices were created using tin or lead solder. These materials were reliable, easy to observe and understand and readily available. Assemblies were designed specifically for use with tin/lead solder, including the temperatures required to work with these materials.
If you have held a TV remote control in your hand, punched a button on a microwave or adjusted a digital thermostat, you have interacted with surface mount technology, or SMT. Since the 1980s, nearly all mass-produced electronics are now manufactured using SMT.
When you hear the term “PCB,” what do you think of? Most people probably imagine a rigid PCB (printed circuit board) with traditional copper pads and wiring harnesses. More and more, however, PCB can also refer to a flexible PCB, also known as a flexible printed circuit board. With the growth in small electronics, the possibilities for shaping, twisting, and folding a flexible PCB have increased its popularity.
Since our beginning, Levison Enterprises has been about quality and partnerships with our customers. We set out to be an electronic assembly manufacturer that our customers could count on. We are proud to be an electronic contract manufacturer that works and trains our team to make the best quality products, on time and on budget, for every one of our customers. Today, we honor that commitment to quality in every project, piece, and part.
When you’re manufacturing a product, there are usually three considerations you need to meet by the time it’s finished. The product needs to meet your desired level of quality, it needs to meet your performance standards, and it needs to be able to be priced competitively.
SMT and SMD.
These two little acronyms get mixed up a lot in the electronics manufacturing service world. On paper, they only vary by a single letter, but in practice, there’s a lot more separating SMTs and SMDs. Chiefly, one is a process and the other is a device.
Much of what goes into the design and manufacture of quality electronic components revolve around testing – individual parts and the assembly itself, once completed. For the electrical connections that make up cables, harnesses, or any other wired assemblies, cable testing is performed to check for conformity to plans, quality, and functionality.
For an electronic device that requires any kind of reliability, the solder paste printing process is arguably the most important step in its assembly. Taking a close look at how an electronic manufacturing service does its solder paste printing is, a reliable way to separate a good electronic manufacturing service from one of lower quality.
Continuous improvement is a philosophy. It plays out in an organization’s culture as it drives progress and growth. It comes from culture because, ultimately, continuous improvement is about people.
Two assembly types are prevalent in electronics manufacturing: through-hole technology (THT) and surface mount technology (SMT). Selection of SMT or THT plays an important role in manufacturing efficiency and cost. This means it is important for customers to be aware of their definitions, differences, and applications.
The electronics industry is extremely diversified. It includes manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, retailers, and many more. This sector has been growing at a rapid pace with the invention of innovative technologies.
However, in an industry like electronics manufacturing that moves at a rapid pace, it is imperative that mistakes are kept to a minimum. Additionally, if and when errors occur, they must be corrected immediately in order to stop the trickle down effect that could cost customers valuable time and money.
When we talk about standards, we often think about processes. When we talk about IPC Standards, however, what we’re really talking about is the actual manufacture of your project. We aren’t talking about tools, we’re talking about the people, training, and background to make your highest-quality product. We’re talking about keeping those people trained so that your product stays top-of-the-line as technology and regulations change.
The term Electronic Manufacturing Service took off in the early 1970s. Up until that point, most large-scale production was handled by in-house assembly. As manufacturing evolved, smaller electronic manufacturing services sprang up to deliver low-cost assemblies by taking advantage of economies of scale. Manufacturing, material procurement and the pooling of design and customer support services made this an attractive alternative to costly in-house operations.
Does it seem like everything you need – all your parts and materials – are either going way up in price, taking longer to get, or completely inaccessible altogether?
It doesn’t just seem that way.
You already know that your design package is key to a well-manufactured end product. Without good design, timelines, quality, and basically all your money may as well be forgotten.
There is much to be said about how clearly you communicate your goals, how accurate your bill of materials, and how detailed your drawings are in drafting a solid design plan. Without these pieces, your design will probably not turn into the product you had in mind.
A good electronics product design (or electronic redesign) is foundational for creating a quality and timely product. When the important basics of electronic design get glossed over or forgotten, processes get delayed, products lack specificity and you’re likely unhappy.
Automated optical inspection or AOI uses an autonomous camera to scan devices for missing components or quality problems. This method of automated visual inspection is a preferred method because it is non-contact and can be implemented throughout the manufacturing process.
Have you ever received a quote from a vendor and wondered what they were thinking when they wrote it? Sometimes they come back over-simplified and you know there are things missing that will come up and haunt you later.
The saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.” In manufacturing, we could probably apply that saying everyday and in a multitude of ways. As we literally measure and cut things every day, it’s a good standard to live by.
Even when we step back from the cutting saws and lasers, that core message still holds strong meaning in electronics manufacturing. Think about what you’re doing before you actually do it.
Basic manufacturing is not enough in the highly-competitive electronics manufacturing world.
The saying goes that if you want a job done right, do it yourself. But when it comes to getting your high tech and multifaceted manufacturing projects completed, it’s just not possible to do it yourself.
In all complicated projects, the best-laid plans and good intentions are only good until the first real project hiccup. Realistically, even a project that you’ve had produced before can still run into problems. Parts go out of production. Part numbers get accidentally transposed. Assemblers make mistakes.
J Standard, or it’s more official title IPC J-STD-001 is a standard that lists the requirements for the manufacture of electronic assemblies. This standard is published by the IPC as “Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies” and includes guidance on materials, manufacturing methods, and verification criteria.
Imagine you are traveling across the Atlantic by plane. You are standing on a tarmac, bags by your side, when two different aircraft roll up. You are offered a choice of either plane to take you to your transatlantic destination. The first aircraft is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, the other has no certification.
Levison Enterprises is proud to commit early to standards that improve our client's data security.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology published the standards in NIST SP800-171 for all contractors and subcontractors for the United States Department of Defense (DoD). This was required by Dec. 31, 2017 and focused on safeguarding Covered Defense Information (CDI) and reporting cyber security incidents.
Flow down helps keep counterfeit parts out and improves supply chain accountability, but it may make your business harder, too.
No matter what you’re looking to manufacture, you’re looking for efficiency. An all-in-one ECM means cost savings and high-level quality for your project.
Counterfeit parts are unfortunately not going away. Does it really matter to your assembly?
This is not a fun subject, but when it comes to manufacturing, especially electronics manufacturing, it’s one we have to talk about.
Go ahead. Put all your eggs in one basket with Levison Enterprises.
Once you’ve decided to outsource part or all of your project to an electronic contract manufacturer (ECM), you still have a big decision to make. Which all-in-one ECM is best suited to handle your projects and to handle them to your specifications?
In the manufacturing world, we see all kinds of acronyms bounce around. Depending on your project and specialty, you might need a pocket dictionary to keep track of all the abbreviations you’ll hear.
At Levison Enterprises, we call ourselves an ECM or, electronic contract manufacturer. But we see plenty of others and figured it was time to get them all organized in once place – for our own benefit, if not for yours.
In the electronic contract manufacturing (ECM) world, it’s likely that you’ve needed to sub-contract work at times. With a host of competing factors to consider, sometimes it just makes more sense to sub work out to another ECM.
The printed circuit boards (PCBs) we use today have evolved over the last 100 years and beyond. PCBs have an exciting history, borne first from the earliest ventures into electronics and later reimagined by a desire to revolutionize point-to-point wiring boards. Learning about the important events that molded the modern PCB can lend a better appreciation for this technology and an idea of what’s to come for the future of PCB assembly.
Or, more to the point, how do we keep our plasma projects running when no one seems to support them anymore?
To be clear, we're not talking about the large plasma TV in your basement. We're talking about the plasma display that for many years was the industry standard for electronic instruments. First, a little primer on how we got into this plasma problem.
It might seem like tedious deskwork to you, but a well-organized bill of materials can be the difference between an on-time and on-budget project and one that is, well, not. So let's keep the boss happy and brush up on how to make an excellent Bill of Materials (BOM).
Levison Enterprises' in-house TAB (Tape Automated Bonding) solutions keep your circuits and your costs small. Almost as soon as the first personal computers arrived, there was a push for them to be smaller. In 70 years we've seen computers the size of a room scale down to something you absent-mindedly wear on your wrist.
Companies may use the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA,) or Deming Cycle as part of their project management approach. But do you know what it is?
Plan-Do-Check-Act is actually a part of the AS9100 Quality assessment. It is a four–step model for carrying out change. The PDCA cycle is intended to be repeated again and again for continuous improvement. This is an important part of many companies’ methodology. Its success as a quality approach should not be overlooked.
Clients depend on their electronic contract manufacturing company to provide efficient, compliant, and secure services to produce their products.
That's why your Electronic Contract Manufacturer, or ECM, should consider internal audits a must. It's how you can ensure your ECM is doing what they say they are doing and identify gaps in policies and procedures.
Every manufacturer has two priorities that guide every decision. They want to make and deliver a high-quality product while saving every dollar on materials, assembly, and delivery. This is where a partnership with the right electronic contract manufacturer (ECM) can make a significant difference.
Have you become comfortable and complacent in the current relationship with your electronic contract manufacturer?
That can be both good and bad.
It’s good because you've developed a strong relationship and level of trust with them.
Recently, a movie theatre in our area decided to rip out the stadium style seating traditionally found in theatres, and invested in all leather recliners and enhanced technology for their movie viewing customers.
One might think this would be tied to a higher ticket price.
However, they didn’t raise their prices.
Are you looking to streamline your assembly process, reduce your shipping timelines, and possibly reduce your overall cost?
Your best bet may be a single source electronic manufacturing service or ECM.
Are you looking to get the most quality out of your electronic manufacturing project but aren’t sure how detailed to make your drawings?
When you tell your electronic contract manufacturer what you need through a complete picture, it’s much easier to achieve the end product you are looking for.
Are you hitting a dead end trying to get your through hole board replaced or fixed?
Many electronic contract manufactures don’t do it anymore.
Though the benefits of surface mount assembly may have largely displaced through hole assembly, there are many applications where through hole assembly could remain the best choice.
Searching for a new electronic manufacturing partner can be a lot like the dating game.
Companies will wine and dine you, make you feel like you’ve found a match, but then disappear when a problem arises. You need to make sure you find the right “match” for your company.
In today’s competitive landscape, businesses must continually innovate to improve their products and inspire brand loyalty.
For small to mid-sized businesses, leveraging new technology and initiating real change is often a challenge. For businesses constrained by smaller budgets and less sophisticated equipment, there is a way to improve your processes and stay ahead of the competition.
A contract manufacturer can be a valuable asset that helps your business achieve its goals and even surpass them.
However, not all electronic contract manufacturers are created equal.
The uniqueness of your product is what makes it special. It is what makes your product different from competing products on the market.
Counterfeit electronic components have long been a concern in the electronics manufacturing industry.
The increasing ease of producing them in recent years has made a significant impact.
"Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives." - Tony Robbins
To be truly great at something requires that you immerse yourself into your craft.
So, you are beginning your search for a new electronics contract manufacturer.
On the surface, many electronic manufacturing service companies appear very similar. They will have a roster of the capabilities, coupled with some images of printed circuit boards, cable assemblies, and processing equipment.
There is no requirement that an electronic contract manufacturer must hold certain quality certifications to conduct business in the industry.
Anyone that can purchase equipment and operate it can call themselves an electronics manufacturing services provider.
Regardless of industry or business size, money is always at the forefront of discussion.
The economy may be rebounding, but companies are continually looking for ways to scale down while maximizing their profits. For small to mid-sized businesses that run on thin margins, this can seem difficult to do without sacrificing quality.
In an increasingly competitive business landscape, efficiency is more important than ever. To stay competitive, companies feel the pressure to research, develop, and manufacture products that deliver satisfaction to their demanding customers.
Consumers today want more and they want it as quickly as possible – call it the natural progression of our technology-driven culture. Small and mid-sized businesses may struggle to keep the pace.
You have a decision to make.
Are you going to farm your work to an overseas partner that has this really attractive price or are you going to seek a domestic partner that may cost more but will be easier to work with and deliver higher quality?