Qualities to Look for in PCB Engineering

When you make the decision to outsource your PCB assembly to an ECM, finding the right partner isn’t always as easy as you might hope. However, there are certain qualities to look for in a PCB engineering shop that can help you determine the right partner for your next electronic device.Close up photo of surface-mount device working on a printed circuit board

PCB Design, Assembly, and Prototyping Services

When you go with a turnkey ECM for your PCB assembly, you can take advantage of having design, assembly, and prototyping services available to you. Prototyping PCB designs ensures the success of your product and is far more cost-effective than manufacturing a full run of boards with a poor design. When you choose an ECM with Design-for-Manufacturability capabilities, you will have a design that is streamlined for the most efficient and cost-effective assembly. A turnkey ECM gives you all the services you need under one roof.

PCB Capabilities

Is your ECM partner capable of building complete traditional PCBs? Can they handle a board that may be between 1-30 layers? Are they prepared for pre-layout thermal planning? Do they have impedance control? These are important questions to ask. There are a variety of problems you can encounter in PCB design and manufacturing, so finding a partner who has the capabilities to handle any board and reconcile any pitfall is key.

High Quality Materials

High quality materials aren’t optional. If the materials aren’t up to standard, the PCB can fail, and final PCB failure is very frustrating to deal with. Your ECM should have a network of vetted suppliers to get you the best parts in the least amount of time, ensuring that your PCB is manufactured with the best available components. When quality control is at the forefront with an experienced shop, PCB failure is much less of a risk.


Are the manufacturing technicians building your boards certified for soldering, reworking, and other assembly options? If not, they should be. Be transparent about your expectations for certifications and make sure the ECM who handles your PCB manufacturing is capable of performing up to the current standards. IPC training and certifications mean that your ECM can provide the requirements and standards that guarantee a consistent approach to the assembly process. Any quality ECM should have no issues with showing you their current certifications.

Testing and Checks

Boards that are assembled should have their solder joints inspected both before and after soldering, and all work needs to be consistently verified through an assortment of inspection techniques. Your board needs to go through rigorous testing before it’s ready for your end user.

More Than Design

Experience and Expertise

Everyone starts somewhere, but your ECM partner who is handling your PCB assembly should have engineering processes and checks already in place to assure that your board is always assembled to the highest possible standards. Your ECM partner should have an experienced team of experts ready to handle your project. The process should be documented and follow system procedures to maintain consistency in the manufacturing process.

State of the Art Equipment

Not only should the equipment be state-of-the-art, but the workspace should be organized and well-maintained. A well maintained and organized assembly line from the shop as a whole, as well as the individual work stations, is essential for building complex PCBs.

The most important factor in deciding on a PCB engineering service is communication. You need to communicate exactly what you need and the ECM should respond in kind. No matter how good a shop looks on paper, an ECM who can’t communicate well can tank your project. Ask questions, weigh the answers, and find the right partner with an educated idea of who you’re looking for. Levison Enterprises has the experience and capabilities necessary to meet your PCB manufacturing and assembly needs no matter what industry. Contact us today for a quote on your next project.

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