Assembling Quantity with MacroFab

We'll be talking about large quantity electronics manufacturing and assembly in this chat.

Friday, January 12, 2018 12:00 pm PST - Friday, January 12, 2018 12:30 pm PST Local time zone:
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Parker Dillman will be co-hosting the Hack Chat this week.

This Hack Chat is at noon PST, Friday, January 12th. 

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MacroFab was founded in 2013 to address the generally horrible electronics manufacturing experience. Since then, MacroFab is a manufacturer used by many people who are manufacturing for the first time, or are working with quantities in the hundreds.

Parker Dillmann is MacroFab's Co-Founder, and Lead ECE with backgrounds in Embedded System Design, and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. He also runs the blog,, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas.

This chat is about manufacturing large quantities of assembled PCBs. What are the pitfalls, how can you design better for manufacturing (DFM), tools needed, machinery used in manufacturing, all of these and more will be discussed in this chat!


  • What is the process for a first time manufacturer?
  • Where can you find out how to design better for manufacturing?
  • What kinds of products are made at MacroFab?
  • What kinds of equipment is typically used for board assembly?

  • Assembling Quantity with MacroFab Hack Chat Transcript

    Shayna01/12/2018 at 20:08 0 comments

    Stephen : Alright, let's get rolling. A BIG hello to @Parker for joining us today

    Parker : Howdy everyone

    Stephen : @Parker, why don't you kick this off by giving us an introduction of who you are, what you do, and what you're excited about sharing with us today?

    Parker : ok

    Parker : I am Parker Dillmann, co-founder, lead electrical engineer, and podcast host here at MacroFab.

    Parker : I help drive the development of our website and guide our customers through prototyping and production of there products.

    Parker : Also run the blog where i put my personal projects.

    davedarko : uhhh, Game Boy projects :)

    Parker : I guess today we are talking about production manufacturing and assembling for electronics.

    davedarko : nice :)

    Parker : But I am game for anything :)

    Mike Szczys : Oh man, I never put it together but I've been a fan of longhornengineer forever. Thanks for all your work on those articles!

    Parker : Thanks!

    Fred : i'm over here thinking how do you even get into all this?

    Stephen : Awesome stuff! Let's get the questions rolling. First one:

    For someone who is new to manufacturing, what is the process for a first time manufacturer?

    Parker : If your product is new. The most important thing is vetting what you are manufacturing.

    Parker : It sounds simple but making sure the process in building your product is repeatable

    Parker : This includes part sourcing and the test procedures

    Adam Demuri : Could you provide an example of where NOT being careful with that has caused problems for you?

    Parker : So making sure you build the first article of your finalized product before rushing off to build your production run is important

    Stephen : What best practices have you found for making sure your process is solid? What are the common pitfalls people miss their first time manufacturing?

    Stephen : Along with @Adam Demuri 's question - when have you ignored this advice and what were the consequences?

    Hyr0n : Dont try and source "new" parts right when they come out if you need hundereds / thousands of them. Especially during the Chinese new year. Not enough supply, the transit is slow, and youre in competition with big vendors (e.g. Mouser, Digikey, etc..)

    Parker : Sure @Adam Demuri. I have worked with projects that had a very accelerated time schedule. The product was a already a "mature" product but they where switching manufactures.

    Parker : And what happened was there was some design documents that was not captured and sent in.

    Parker : It pertained to having some through hole parts that needed custom standoffs

    Parker : In the end it required lots of rework to remove those parts and resolder them. If a first article was built first this issue would have been caught on unit 1 and not after the first batch.

    Parker : ...

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Dave Blundell wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:51 point

One thing I've always wondered - how much blank space does there need to be on a used reel in order to feed it into a PnP machine  without wasting parts?  6" ?  12" ? 18" ?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Nicolas Schurando wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:23 point

I have a practical question. A project that I am considering for manufacturing uses a tiny 96x16 oled display that I source from aliexpress/buydisplay. The contact with the board is done via fpc soldering, and there is no connector available with the pitch. Furthermore, the oled display as with most I assume is not compatible with oven soldering temperatures. How would MacroFab handle that? Does it provide hand soldering for those special parts? Would the fact that the display do not come in a tray of a cut tape be a problem?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Clara Hobbs wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:18 point

In general, how does your software determine the labor cost for a given part?  Obviously you can't know a value for every MPN, so I'm curious as to what the heuristics used are.

  Are you sure? yes | no

MagicWolfi wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:18 point

Can I get a quote (without part costs) without uploading a design, based on board specs and # of components, pads?

  Are you sure? yes | no

MagicWolfi wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:08 point

Are you able to purchase parts from sources (e.g. small chip company with their own web shop only) other than big distributors or would I need to drop-ship those to your location? Are there import duties to pay if that company is outside the US?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Hyr0n wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:07 point

From a scalability time consuming issue of programming hundreds/thousands of boards, is there a certain type of programmer & physical interface you prefer (over others) if you are programming the boards after fab? (e.g. Pogo press on, SWD 10 Pin, 20 pin, etc...) 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Andrew Sowa wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:06 point

Have people contacted you for problems with other people's boards since you put your logo on them?  

Did you do customer based test procedures to verify operation?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Fred wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:05 point

how do you actually get into PCB manufacturing, what are the requirements and how did you get into it?

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Matt Liberty wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:04 point

How do I make sure that the part centroids and part rotations in my Eagle design matches what you need for assembly?

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Jarrett wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:02 point

On average, how much faster is a 12-year-old at placing parts than a fully grown adult?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jarrett wrote 01/12/2018 at 20:01 point

Do weird component angles cause difficulties or more effort than standard 0 or 90 degree rotations?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sophi Kravitz wrote 01/12/2018 at 19:28 point

What's a typical quantity? How do you figure out the quote to the customer - is it per square inch of PCB or some other way?

  Are you sure? yes | no

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