The domestic PCB industry has been fractured into two camps within the last ten to fifteen years: prototyping/quick turn vs full production shops. It’s been continuously relayed to me that you can never be everything to everyone, so choose your path and stick to it—no deviations! While my time in the PCB fabrications world has been relatively short in comparison to industry titans, I’ve noticed that this rigid mindset (while with some merits) is beginning to loosen as we emerge from a wild 15+ months. Never did we see supply chains vanish, prices skyrocket and the threat of IP theft balloon at this current velocity.
So, how does one navigate this as we “restart” our economic engines? I’ve been pushing for a more open discussion with domestic OEMs and CMs regarding the aforementioned challenges we all face; not to forever bang the drum of a strong domestic manufacturing base, but to be more agile in our fabrication frameworks. It seems that “staying in our lane” has only produced a slowly disintegrating, domestic PCB industry over the last few decades. We’ve decided to take dad’s car for a joyride at Aurora Circuits and replace the “car” with our extensive technology and experience, going full throttle.
The shakeup starts with full out trend bucking. Our PCB shop is embracing technologies that are critical to our survival as an industry like chip carriers, tight board tolerances, RF designs, controlled impedance boards, and a slew of other board requirements that, even as recently as two years ago, were non-starters. Furthermore, Aurora Circuits has implemented production controls and processes to deliver quick turns/prototypes in days (yes, “days”), not weeks, as was the standard, alongside our production work. It’s been a learning experience for much of our team, exploring the world of these new technologies and prioritizing “hot jobs” in between full production fabrication, but I believe it’s made us better, more resilient, confident and open to a large swath of programs that we previously assumed were unattainable. Adding new equipment like a state-of-the-art AOI machine, controlled impedance test system and X-ray drill (all within the last six months) has also brought us to this critical mass. We are pushing the internal envelope but know that domestic OEMs are looking for all of this and more in a PCB shop, including full turnkey PCBA services. In fact, I’ve personally harnessed and grown trusted relationships with CMs across the country for this very reason and know the true benefit of working together for a common goal.
At the end of the day, all domestic PCB shops must reflect on the current climate and determine if they are willing to evolve or slowly wither away; there is only one obvious choice for the team at Aurora Circuits. Fair competition makes everyone better and I ask that all PCB leaders in the industry push their teams to get uncomfortable and embrace change to compete with all takers, foreign and domestic. The few PCB shops that are left in the US have so much going for us, from project completion speed, timely communication, and IP protection policies that respect the fundamental principles of innovation. We have a golden opportunity to be a phoenix, let’s not waste it.
For more information about Aurora Circuits capabilities, please visit our website at
www.auroracircuits.com/solutions. You may also contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (630) 978-3830.