case study

WHEN A REQUESTED PRODUCT DOESN’T EXIST

Creating a Win-Win Solution for Our Customer, Our Company, and the Industry

Background

Requested Product

In October 2016, a key customer sent in a new request for an awe-inspiring aerospace project. It required a 50” (1270mm) long PCB, which would be no problem for us to create, as we already had experience making tens of thousands of boards that were longer. We had even created PCBs that were 1.8M in length, both as single sided and two-layer PTH.

But when the specifics of the project data arrived, we saw that the request was for an oversized MULTI LAYER product, with some tolerances that pushed the limits even of standard sized boards, and met IPC 3 in some areas.

PROBLEMET

When we explored the issue further with our client, we discovered that other PCB providers had declined to take on the project, since the solution for this type of request hadn’t been discovered in the industry yet.

The challenge wasn’t only in creating a one-time solution; the challenge was finding a reliable and repeatable process to serve our client, and others like them, not only in the present but also in the future.

Our UK team explored each and every project requirement with the client. They realized that lamination and registration were going to be major considerations. These aspects were more complicated by the fact that this was a project with commercial implications – our solution had to meet viable pricing levels for it to fully meet our client’s request.

UK’s technical team collaborated with our technical and engineering teams in the Fineline Dongguan, China office.

A practice of resourcefulness and persistence

Before providing our customer with a price quote, we saw that it was important to undertake sampling. Our initial product samples experienced a 70% fallout rate – a number that couldn't align with cost effective long-term production.

As a project with industry-changing ramifications we were set to find new and better solution.

After an in-depth analysis of the failures, we took corrective actions and implemented a detailed control plan. The next samples showed significant improvements and the failure rate was down to 28%.
Further developments and another revision of samples produced results we could be happy with. Quality levels of 90%+ were achieved.

We viewed the project as a long-term investment, a game-changer, for us and our clients, for many years to come. The value was significant for all parties involved. For this reason, during the month of this intensive work, one of Fineline’s highly experienced process engineers resided in the factory, and all other team members went many extra miles. In the end, we were ready to quote.

The Results

Our quotation met the commercial goals. A further batch was produced and the process was confirmed as repeatable and reliable. The EMS company had their own challenges in building a product of this size. But the assembly was perfect and the built product was put to test. Testing was positive and the approval was given for the PCB’s.