Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

Choose the CM Partner That Exceeds Expectations 

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 @ 10:16 AM

Contract-Manufacturer-54.jpgIn contract manufacturing, the status quo is no longer an option. If your product requires high complexity/high-reliability circuit card assemblies, making sure your CM partner is going "above and beyond" to mitigate your risks at the highest levels possible is crucial. There's far too much at stake--such as time, money, market share and, in the case of mil/aero applications, even human lives. At Zentech, that drives us to maintain the highest levels of certification available and to practice strict adherence to industry standards...and then we take it up a notch.

How do we do that? We start by continually measuring our performance with proprietary custom-designed software to monitor our processes and workmanship in real-time. But, we don’t stop there--we exceed what our customers expect and require of us. Our team fully understands that we must continually find new ways to mitigate risks for our partners.

One tangible way we make sure we remain at the top of our game has been to acquire IPC QML (Qualified Manufacturer Listed certification--which you may or may not know about since IPC Validation Services has just begun it's third year of operations. This certification adds a significant layer of accountability and excellence that ensures quality and reduces risk for customers.

While broader-scope certifications such as ISO-9000 and AS-9100 measure quality management systems and compliance with regulatory and statutory requirements, the IPC QML certification confirms that we specifically comply with IPC sanctioned PCBA standards, practices and workmanship as established by IPC.

NEW_BLOG.jpg

Zentech was the second EMS company in the nation to become an IPC-QML listed supplier for J-STD-001/IPC-A-610 during the program’s inaugural year in 2014.

Colonial Assembly and Design, a fully owned subsidiary of Zentech, earned the trusted source status, IPC J-STD-001 and IPC-A-610 in January 2017.

Additionally, we remain one of only two EMS companies to hold the J-STD-001/IPC-A-610 Space-Addenum which demonstrates our ability to aptly respond to the needs of highly complex Space applications.

So, why do we keep pushing well beyond the extra mile? Because both of our facilities are located just outside of the Washington DC / Pentagon region, we are privileged to work with the most highly sophisticated and demanding customers on the globe--technology giants such as the DoD, The US Army, The US Navy, DARPA and all of the major Prime Defense contractors. As you might imagine, the status quo has never been an option for us at Zentech. We strive every day to excel at what we do and look for ways to always stay well ahead of the “curve” by continually finding measurable ways to help mitigate risk and improve quality to support our customer's success. Now that’s the kind of proactive partnership you can put in the bank. 

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Zentech Implements Mid-Board Copper Solutions

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 03:36 PM

iStock_000019521781_Small.jpgZentech continues to strive to meet the electronics industry's ever changing technological demands by implementing mid-board copper solutions. A recent article on electronicdesign.com outlines these challenges. 

Specifying Mid-Board Copper Solutions

In a bid to satisfy continually increasing demands for higher performance, communications-equipment providers are moving to higher speeds on their internal printed-circuit boards (PCBs). Currently, 28-Gb/s signal rates are in design phases, with 56- and 112-Gb/s rates in the future.

The challenge is that PCBs aren’t well-suited to handling these higher speeds—they have issues with signal integrity (noise, insertion loss, amplitude, etc.), and that limits the distance PCB traces can reliably carry a high-speed signal. As a result, PCB designers must cope with board-layout limitations or move to higher-performing but more expensive PCB materials.

Mid-board copper (MBCu) solutions use connectors and cable assemblies to address this challenge. By bypassing the PCB, an MBCu solution delivers greater design flexibility, lower costs, and much better signal-integrity performance. With a cable that can extend to any component inside the box or even to external devices outside the box, an MBCu connectivity solution turns a two-dimensional circuit-board design into a 3D space where far more configurations are possible.

Read electronicdesign.com's full article here.

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Zentech, a FDA Certified Medical Device and ISO 13485 Facility

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 @ 03:51 PM

SMT-soldering.jpgZentech Manufacturing has provided life critical, advanced technology medical devices and high-reliability and high-complexity electronics contract manufacturing to the U.S. medical industry for nineteen years.

Recently recognized as one of the Top Ten Electronics Contract Manufacturing (CM) organizations in the Northeastern United States, Zentech is also one of less than ten CM’s in the United States that has been IPC Validation Services Certified as an IPC-610 Class 3 Trusted Source for medical and military circuit card assembly. Zentech is also a FDA Certified Medical Device Manufacturing Facility and ISO 13485 certified.

In recognition of Zentech’s outstanding performance supporting all printed circuit assembly, unit level integration and testing requirements, Zentech was recently recognized by several of their medical industry clients as their Supplier of the Year. 

As Zentech has supported some medical device programs for more than a decade, the evolution of the customer’s platform during this period has been supported on a sustaining engineering basis by Zentech’s engineering team

Turn-key solutions for your medical device include:

  • Participation in core design activities
  • Review and drive solutions to compliance test failures.
  • Manage entire sustaining engineering process  
  • Implement design changes
  • Test fixture design and development
  • Full Turnkey Production and Test
  • Repair and Refurbishment Depot 

Zentech is a premier electronics contract manufacturer in the medical device industry. Do you manufacture life critical, highly complex medical devices? Contact Zentech today to learn more about our turn-key solutions.

 

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In-House Talent Makes All The Difference In Electronic Board Design

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 @ 01:31 PM

PCB-ServicesNo matter what market you're looking to enter, your electronics design needs to be rock-solid if it's going to succeed.  

Companies still using "fire and forget" style of outsourced electronic manufacturing services, which simply build to order, are taking big gambles with their product. Electronics today need to be more thoroughly tested, better-built, and better targeted to consumers if they're going to succeed.  

When you partner with manufacturers who also have in-house electronic board design specialists, you can get a far superior product without adding much to the costs of production. In many cases, their expertise
can pay off with better ROI in the long run than a more limited service can save you up-front.

Have Talent On Your Side When Introducing New Electronics

An all-in-one solution can provide additional end-to-end value, when compared to pure build-to-order companies. There are numerous options for leveraging their expertise:

1 - Board optimization

Every electronics factory is a little different, thanks to the wide range of machinery that's available.  A good manufacturer will know the exact tolerances of their manufacturing processes, as well as its strongest points. When they have engineers on-staff, they can very often re-tool and optimize the electronic board design to best-fit their processes, saving money and even reducing component usage.

2 - Prototyping and testing

The more complicated a piece of electronics is, the more likely it's going to need to go through several revisions before it's ready for public release. A manufacturer with in-house testing services can speed you through this entire process. Prototypes can be rapidly assembled, tested, and then refined based on the testing results.

Even when starting from scratch, the best electronics manufacturers today can create new prototypes in just days.This can significantly reduce your time-to-market all the while releasing a superior product.

3 - Going greenSMT-Production-Method

Buyers in many fields are increasingly concerned about the eco-friendliness of the products they buy, and will in many cases discriminate against products that don't meet accepted guidelines for pollution and recyclability.

Companies with in house-talent will know of alternative sources for parts, and different manufacturing processes, which can bring a product into RoHs compliance or even stricter standards.  In the months and years ahead, this is almost certain to become an ever more important factor in purchasing decisions.

4 - Repair services

When everything else is under one roof, actual circuit board repair services become an option. In the long run, this can be an enormous cost-cutter, because the alternative to repair services is simply sending out full replacement units for any warranty claim. It's fairly obvious how such a practice, especially on expensive equipment, can quickly destroy a product's profitability.

When your manufacturer can receive defective units, repair them, and ship them back in the same time as it would take to ship a replacement, that can greatly decrease your post-sale expenditures.

Integrated Services Bring Better Services

When it comes to engineering and electronic board design, a single source is going to be far more cost-efficient and effective at creating a superior product.  Contact Zentech today for more information on how far a single-source manufacturer can take you.

 

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Topics: electronic board design, Electronic Board Design Services

Curtiss-Wright Selects Zentech in an Effort to Expand Secure Manufacturing

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Fri, Mar 17, 2017 @ 11:18 AM

Curtiss-Wright Selects Zentech and Expands Secure Manufacturing Capabilities for Sensitive U.S. DoD Aerospace & Defense Programs

Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions Division today announced that it has expanded its secure manufacturing capabilities for sensitive U.S. DoD aerospace and defense programs by contracting with Zentech Manufacturing, a premier electronics contract manufacturing company. The addition of Zentech to Defense Solutions’ existing breadth of captive manufacturing capabilities and roster of U.S.-based contract manufacturers further strengthens Curtiss-Wright’s ability to address sensitive program requirements and U.S. Government programmatics. Curtiss-Wright’s TrustedCOTS™ capabilities satisfy the most demanding U.S. DoD Information Assurance requirements with the latest technologies supporting cybersecurity, critical program data, and intellectual property protection for critical deployed applications.


“We’ve heard the military systems user community and embedded system integrators communicate loudly and clearly that they want cost-effective open architecture electronic solutions,” said Lynn Bamford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Defense Solutions division. “As the premier and largest supplier of rugged COTS electronic solutions to the U.S. DoD, Curtiss-Wright supports and endorses the aerospace and defense market’s strong push towards the use of truly open standards for both hardware and software. To that end, we are currently making very strategic investments with our customers to address the growing inventory of DoD programs and MoD programs around the world.” 

american-based-electronics.jpg“We are very pleased to have been selected by Curtiss-Wright to support them in their strategic USA Eyes Only manufacturing following their very comprehensive evaluation of our capabilities, processes and personnel,” remarked Matt Turpin, CEO and President of Zentech Manufacturing. “As one of the very few U.S. electronics contract manufacturers that is IPC Validation Certified as a Class 3 Trusted Source, and with a long legacy of high-performance in the military C5ISR sector, we are confident that Zentech will meet the technological and manufacturing challenges of Curtiss-Wright’s advanced product architecture.”

 

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Tips For Cutting Costs On PCB Assemblage

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

 

pc board assemblyIt really doesn't matter what type of business you're in - money is a common stressor for all of us. The majority of American industries are constantly looking for ways to scale back their costs and improve profit margins without sacrificing the quality or integrity of their work. Still, this is often much easier said than done. Finding areas where you can safely and effectively reduce spending while still keeping your customers happy with excellent products and services isn't as simple as it may seem, and it can be especially problematic in the electronics sector.

The issue that many electronics companies have in cutting expenses is that technology never remains the same for very long. The consumer marketplace refuses to be satisfied with the status quo, and, as a result, our electronic devices continue to evolve into increasingly complex products. Technological companies, then, must evolve along with these devices, finding new processes for developing the products that end-users are demanding. Despite this, though, there's one thing that continues to remain a constant in the world of electronics: PC boards. These remarkable boards are essential to our world's technology. Shouldn't it naturally go to follow that by cutting costs to PC boards, electronics companies could start saving more money?

Although this may be the case, businesses like your own must be careful and smart about any changes made to the assemblage of PCBs. Finding savvy ways to make boards more price-efficient and cut costs is a far cry from "cutting corners". Still, it can be done. In an effort to help you start raising your profit margins and enjoying a higher level of success, we've put together the following tips for saving money without sacrificing the quality of PCB assemblage.

#1: Smart Design

The design and planning that goes into assembling PCBs is one of the smartest and most effective ways to scale back spending. The strategic engineering of these boards can result in the need to utilize fewer parts and components which will immediately begin to lower the cost per PCB. In the long run, this can begin to add up to significant savings.

#2: Develop Relationships

Developing a strong and ongoing relationship with one or two parts suppliers is much more cost-efficient than spreading your business out amongst a wider range of businesses. When you develop a rapport with your parts supplier, you'll often be given the opportunity to enjoy better deals and savings, and you may also be entitled to discounts for prompt payments, amongst other things. 

#3: Avoid Fines - Stay Americanpcb assemblage

Thinking about taking your PCB assemblage offshore? You might want to re-consider. Overseas contract manufacturers often appeal to smaller businesses because of their cheap services, but if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many times, these companies make use of counterfeit parts that don't comply with American industry standards. The use of these parts in your boards could result in your being fined, or being dragged into a lawsuit should the part(s) cause serious problems or malfunctions. 

#4: Repair vs. Replace

If something goes wrong with one of your boards, it can be tempting to offer a customer a warranty replacement rather than taking the time to troubleshoot for the problem and repair it. In reality, though, the latter is the much more affordable and cost-efficient option.

#5: Consider Hiring a Contract Manufacturer

Although hiring a contract manufacturer may initially seem more expensive, a partnership can give you access to a team of experts without having to pay their salary, and to advanced equipment without having to purchase or maintain it.

Saving money on PCB assemblage doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice the quality of your product to your end users. By following these tips, you can cut your own costs while keeping your customers happy with your boards and services.

 

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Topics: pcb assemblage

Highly Certified Matters

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Wed, Mar 08, 2017 @ 10:09 AM

Certs.jpgMost electronics contract manufacturers are highly certified in their fields. Certifications such as AS9100, DD2345 and ISO13485 demonstrate the commitment to excellence that a potential contract manufacturer has. Certifications provide a level of (objective) accountability that, first and foremost, protects you the customer. Certifications ensure that the contract manufacturer remains compliant with current industry standards, regulations, and best-practices which directly impact the quality and reliability of the products and services the electronics contract manufacturer builds.

 


Zentech Certifiations:

- AS9100:2009C  (Aerospace Specification)

- IPC 610 Class 3 Mission Critical Trusted Source (Qualified Manufacturers Listed) – one of six CM’s certified

- IPC 620 Certified (Wire Harness and Cable Assemblies)

- IPC J-STD-001 with Space Certification – one of two CM’s certified

- ITAR registered

- Joint Certification Program (DD2345) for access to militarily sensitive Technical Data Packages

- ISO 9001:2008

- ISO 13485:2003

- FDA Certified Device Manufacturing Facility

- AS5553 Counterfeit Mitigation Compliant

- J-STD-004 Compliant (Solder Paste Technology) + Inline 3D SPI (Solder Paste Inspection)

- AOI Systems (Automated Optical Inspection)

- 3D Automated X-Ray Inspection – AXI

 - Seica Pilot 4D V8 Flying Probe Testing

 


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4 Types Of Electronics Contract Manufacturers To Hire

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Mon, Mar 06, 2017 @ 11:30 AM

Have you been thinking about hiring a third party manufacturing company to assist you with the design or assembly of your electronics? If so, it is very important that you understand what to look for in a quality and long-lasting business partnership. But with so many options, how can you even know where to begin? In order to help you narrow down your options and make the best decision for your operation, here's a look at the four types of electronic contract manufacturers that you should be looking to hire. pcb assembly

1. PCB Assembly Manufacturers 

Technology is continuously evolving, and as it does, it is shrinking. Consumers today are demanding electronic devices that, while more complex and functional, are also extremely lightweight and compact. In order for these systems to operate properly and efficiently, printed circuit boards (PCBs) must also become smaller, while being able to support increasingly complicated electrical connections and components. Designing and assembling these tiny PCBs can be challenging, time-consuming, and very costly to electronics operations with finite resources. In order for you to fulfill customer orders, stay competitive, and grow your business, you may want to consider working with professional electronic contract manufacturers. Skilled and capable outsource partners can hep you to overcome and obstacles that your team is meeting and can provide high-tech machinery that will ensure faster, more precise PCB assembly.

2. Systems Assembly Manufacturers

If your business is struggling with systems assembly, electronic contract manufacturers may be able to help. By choosing an experienced business partner that is familiar with all of the demands of system assembly, you can be the recipient of customized solutions that will help to manage your supply chain requirements. Regardless of what level of assistance you require, you can find relief and higher levels of success with the right contract manufacturer. Truly reputable third party companies will be capable of helping you with configure/build to order design schematics, assembly at the chassis, cage, or rack levels, custom cabling, board and system testing, and documentation management so that you can operate more efficiently.

3. Design and Build Manufacturers

There are many electronic contract manufacturers that only offer assembly services. Although this can help you to improve the speed of actually producing a fully designed product, it will not help you to improve the efficiency of your electronics. A design and build service may be able to pinpoint areas of your basic schematics that could be improved, thus saving you money on parts, or enabling you to create products that are easier for end-users to manipulate or that function more smoothly. Throughout the assembly and manufacturing process, your partner will be testing your products for operability and for problem areas that could be fixed. In this way, your business and your products will always be getting better.

4. American Based Manufacturerselectronic contract manufacturer

At first glance, the electronic contract manufacturers that work offshore may seem like the more economical choice for a business partnership, but you should keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Although many foreign companies offer cheaper services, they also tend to cut corners and use bootlegged parts and system components during product assembly. And because cheap, unskilled labor is utilized throughout production, your devices may end up falling short of the expectations of yourself and your customers. To avoid these problems, it is in your best interest to work with American based companies that follow national manufacturing and assembly standards, and that utilize only high quality parts.


The right electronic contract manufacturers can be a tremendous asset to your business. By looking for these four types of manufacturers, you will enjoy more efficient daily operations, and will be able to provide better products to your customers. 

Are you ready to get started?

 

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Topics: pcb assembly, Electronic Contract Manufacturers, contract manufactuerers

7 Reasons Contract Manufacturers Help You Stand Out

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 04:34 PM

Contract Manufacturing

From time to time, we all need a little bit of help. As a business owner, though, you may tend to pride yourself on your independence, and have a strong desire to keep all of your processes in-house. But what if soliciting design, assembly, testing, and fulfillment services could actually help you to grow your company an enable to you bring in more cash? That would probably grab your interest, and it has, indeed, peaked the curiosity of other small to midsize electronics businesses. A growing number of companies are turning to contract manufacturing services as a means of improving their own existing business models. Could this be a viable solution for your needs? If you're on the fence, take a look at 6 of the many ways in which a contract manufacturer could help to improve the development of your electronics.

1. Knowledge & Experience

Who wouldn't love to be able to take advantage of talented industry professionals with a great deal of knowledge and experience without actually having to pay their salary? That's exactly what you get when you make the decision to work with a contract manufacturer. You'll be able to obtain design and manufacturing input from a team of experts who have been working in PCB engineering, assembly, and repair for years. This will help your own staff to learn and grow, while also enabling you to offer a superior product to your buyers.

2. Design Efficiency

One of the primary reasons that board production can get expensive is inefficient design schematics. Although your engineers may be very good at what they do, there's always room for improvement, and it's always a good idea to consider someone else's opinion as a means of looking at things from a new point of view. By taking advantage of a contract manufacturer's electronics engineering design team, you can work together to determine how to improve your design efficiency, reducing the size of boards and the number of costly components required.

3. Careful Testing

There's nothing worse than throwing away thousands upon thousands of dollars in time, labor, and parts because a design wasn't properly tested through simulations processes, or because a large batch order was assembled without first testing a prototype. Although circuit board testing can be time-consuming, it's an extremely important part of the production process. By working with a contract manufacturing company, someone else can shoulder the burden of testing for you, so that you can focus on other tasks.

4. Superior Technologies

Wouldn't it be great if you could take advantage of the same design, assembly, and production technologies as your largest competitors? While it may be easy for the "big guys" to spend money on the latest and greatest equipment, it's not always a possibility for you. When you partner with a contract manufacturing service, though, you are able to tap into these valuable resources without being required to invest in the technology, house it, or maintain it. Suddenly, you're much more competitive in the consumer marketplace!

5. Cut Material Costselectronic board design

In addition to helping you improve design efficiency and reduce your spending on expensive manufacturing equipment, an experienced contract manufacturer can actually help you to scale back the cost of components and parts. Through developing long-term relationships with reliable suppliers, a contract manufacturer can get the best deals on parts, which translates to less spending for you, as well.

6. Excellent Fulfillment Services 

Just because you offer a warranty on your boards and products doesn't mean that you should throw away money on replacement units when something goes wrong. When you have a contract manufacturing company on your team, you can address problems in a more cost-efficient manner. Through careful troubleshooting, your contract manufacturer can pinpoint the problem. Often, it can be traced to a single failing component which can then be replaced for a fraction of the cost to replace. 

7. Highly Certified

Most electronics contract manufacturers are highly certified in their fields. Certifications such as AS9100,
DD2345 and ISO13485 demonstrate the commitment to excellence that a potential contract manufacturer has. Certifications provide a level of (objective) accountability that, first and foremost, protects you the customer. Certifications ensure that the contract manufacturer remains compliant with current industry standards, regulations, and best-practices which directly impact the quality and reliability of the products and services the electronics contract manufacturer builds.

How could a contract manufacturer help you?

 

 

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, electronics contract manufacturing, assembly manufacturing firm

How One Business Brought Back Manufacturing Jobs

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

contract_electronic_assembly.jpgZentech was recently featured in an article on marketplace.org regarding bringing more manufacturing jobs to the US. See the full article below.


If you want to find out how to bring manufacturing jobs back from Asia, one route might be to start with someone who’s done it. Matt Turpin is CEO of Zentech, an electronics manufacturer in Baltimore, Maryland. His company manufactures goods or components for other companies.

“We’ve brought back probably four projects in the past two years,” he said. There are “probably 30 people associated with those projects.”

How’d he do it? First, “the level of automation has increased dramatically," Turpin said. "What used to take two to three hours to build now can be built in under 10 minutes.

So if products don’t require much labor, then cheap Chinese labor isn’t that important.

Second, labor in China isn’t so cheap anymore.

Those two factors mean the number of manufacturing jobs leaving the United States now equals the number of jobs coming back, roughly, and it’s been holding constant for the past year or so.

In fact, despite political rhetoric, U.S. manufacturing is not in crisis.

“The absence of strong  growth in manufacturing employment doesn’t mean that U.S. manufacturing is doing poorly,” said Gordon Hanson, professor of economics at UC San Diego.

Manufacturing may be employing fewer people because of automation, but it’s still churning out products and plenty of them. 

“U.S. manufacturing production has held its own, it’s been a stable share of the U.S. economy over time” when measured in GDP, said Hanson.

Given all that, if you ask academics and business people what to increase U.S. manufacturing employment, there are a couple of things that come up frequently. One is regulation.

“Business creation in the U.S. has been on a long run declining trend,” said Nick Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford. “So the rates of new business creation in 2012 are about half what they were 30 years ago. A lot of that decline is being put down to increasing spread of regulation — occupational licensing, health care regulation, health and safety regulation. All of it is very well intentioned, but that massive red tape is stifling new businesses.”

The second: the United States needs “a focus on STEM education,” said Zentech’s Matt Turpin. Science, technology, engineering, math.

“I’m already seeing it," he said. "There’s so many people in the workforce retiring and we’re starting to see a shortage of the people that need to come in and take those jobs. If we don’t have a skilled workforce, we’re not gonna be able to meet the needs of industry and they're gonna go overseas.”

Translation: The future’s here. Train for it.

 

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