Electronics Assembly Knowledge, Vision & Wisdom
21st Century PCB FAB Factory Design
21st Century PCB FAB Factory Design
Paper illustrates a new dynamic, and provide case study examples from an installation at the company captive facility in New Hampshire.
Supply Chain

Authored By:
Alexander Stepinski
Whelen Engineering
New Hampshire, USA
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Summary
Over fifteen years has passed since North America and Europe ceased being the center of worldwide PCB fabrication, and were supplanted by a Far East market with low cost labor, more relaxed environmental requirements, and strong government support. In just a few short years, the superior cost advantages of this new dynamic put volume PCB production in the West out of business, aside for the military and specialty technology applications contained in the few shops that continue to exist today.

Recently, however, the conditions which created the current equilibrium appear to be shifting again. In this new dynamic, automation, innovative green wastewater technologies, and next generation process equipment innovations have combined to make new factories capable of achieving rapid ROI for PCB fabrication almost anywhere. This paper means to illustrate this new dynamic, and provide case study examples from the new greenfield installation at the company captive facility in New Hampshire.
Conclusions
The net effect of integrating all of the various automation, wastewater, and new equipment technologies presented can result in tremendous savings in PCB cost. With the factory in New Hampshire in North America only 35% utilized, a greater than 50% operating cost savings has been achieved over the previous Far East suppliers, and an ROI of three years has been achieved.

A more fully utilized factory could achieve ROI even faster. The company had to assume substantial risk and invest 89% of the factory budget into new and emerging technologies in order to accomplish the PCB Fab project, however, future and existing factories in North America and Europe could now stand to benefit from this R&D effort.
Initially Published in the IPC Proceedings
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