How does high-mix low volume PCB contract manufacturing benefit your NPI (New Product Introduction) electronics?

By | Date posted: | Last updated: August 21, 2023
High Mix PCB Contract Manufacturing

The growing demand for customized electronics is driving OEMs to add exclusive products to the market continuously. The conventional method of bulk-producing similar items is getting replaced by low-volume manufacturing of diverse products on the same shop floor. This process of producing a mixed variety of electronic products in small build quantities is known as high-mix low-volume PCB manufacturing. This method offers ‘make-to-order’ products with enhanced customer acceptance. But not many contract manufacturers are capable of providing such a service. The constant change in product types and assembly setup requires precision control and a flexible production line. If you are looking for an electronics manufacturing partner to support your NPI process, then find one that provides a high-mix low volume PCB manufacturing service.

The NPI process translates your design idea into a reproducible product starting from prototype to mass production. The process involves design iterations to refine the circuit functionality and transforms it into a manufacturing-ready PCB. So, in the initial stage, the build quantity required is quite less. If you have multiple products running together and plan to test them simultaneously, hiring a high-mix low volume contract manufacturer turns out to be highly beneficial. Large-scale manufacturers will not support prototype volume and are not flexible for quick changes common in NPI (new product introduction) runs. Small-scale manufacturers may not have the latest equipment and experienced staff to build complex PCBs. Usually, medium-scale manufacturers offer high-mix low volume services to build small quantities of different PCB technologies parallelly.

The high-mix low volume PCB manufacturing requires frequent changes in the materials used, machinery settings, and jobs performed in the assembly line. The constant variation in the process can lead to product faults or performance inconsistencies. The agile production method needs an optimized flow and an effective plan to predict possible outcomes. Strong communication among the working staff and adaptability to recurring deviations are the essential features of a high-mix low volume contract manufacturer.

Benefits of High-mix Low Volume Contract Manufacturing:

Electronics contract manufacturers who adopt flexible processes for PCB run gain advantages like production efficiency, cost saving, and delivery for varying demands. They develop and optimize their process for the unique requirements of high-mix low volume manufacturing. The controlled process and inspection methods ensure the excellent performance of your NPI electronics.

Their assembly shop floor is dynamic and configurable for different projects. CMs keep the equipment and resources busy with precise planning, thereby making efficient use of time and inventory. The easy switchover between build sizes, design complexities, and product types results in a shorter lead time for your product launches. This assists you in further demand estimation and order placement.

Customized products using high-mix low volume manufacturing can expand your user base. Also, your improved responsiveness to customers will boost your brand image. As inventory storage is minimized, you can set competitive pricing for your product. The same shopfloor repurposed for diverse product types improves space efficiency and reduces overall manufacturing costs.

High-mix low volume manufacturing is frequently used to build complex and pioneering products. The OEMs require a bunch of other services to achieve market launch success. Along with PCB fabrication, assembly, and component procurement, there is a demand for engineering expertise and mechanical capabilities in the NPI process. Thus, high-mix low volume contract manufacturing is ideal for NPI electronics producers.

Challenges in high-mix low volume PCB manufacturing:

Despite the advantages discussed above, high-mix low volume manufacturing has its own set of challenges to overcome. Supply chain management is one such critical task to consider. There is a possibility of component changes for PCB prototypes due to circuit modifications, DFM guidelines, etc. Your CM should have a strong network for sourcing genuine components at reasonable rates.

The manufacturing technology requirements are diverse as different types of PCB products are built and tested simultaneously. There may be a requirement for additional services like x-ray inspection, automated optical inspection (AOI), burn-in testing, safety testing, etc. Your CM should be equipped with the necessary machinery and staff to perform these supplementary tasks.

CMs are expected to handle fluctuating market demands. Their ability to make effective decisions on procuring new materials and managing excess/waste supplies is crucial to keep expenses under budget.

Building different product portfolios also needs support for the industrial certification process and associated testing methods. CMs should be capable of providing such test assistance to their customers.

One of the important challenges is to establish clear communication among the stakeholders. Since the products are built on a quick time-to-market schedule, any miscommunication can cost both time and money. Hence a defined protocol for milestone tracking must be implemented in the production process.

These challenges make it difficult to choose the right contract manufacturer for high-mix low volume NPI electronics. As an OEM, you must search for a partner who has a workflow complimenting your product domain. Availability of the latest equipment and manufacturing processes, well-trained staff, a robust supply chain for component procurement, and support for quick changes are the key features needed in high-mix low volume contract manufacturing. The CM should be ISO certified, demonstrating quality control in their manufacturing processes.

Achieving success in high-mix low volume electronics manufacturing:

Automation of the high-mix low volume PCB manufacturing process brings success by reducing errors and optimizing lead times. Most of the PCB faults occur during the soldering process. A well-designed stencil avoids soldering errors during PCB assembly. Efficient switching among multiple projects is critical in a high-mix environment. A flexible and organized workflow is mandatory to decrease manufacturing costs. Digitization of the NPI process can save time and improve the quality of your electronic product. High-mix low volume contract manufacturing helps to meet the demands of mass customization in the electronics industry.


For NPI electronics manufacturing, you can hire a partner who is experienced in a high mix PCB build environment. The NPI process involves frequent design changes, and the required PCB count is also less. A high-mix low volume contract manufacturer can build small to medium PCB quantities with advanced technological support. Their process agility, reduced cost, and effective timelines are the top advantages for launching your NPI electronics.

From initial design, PCB manufacturing, development, and prototype to full-scale production and after-market support, we provide you with a complete package of industrial electronics manufacturing. To get more information about NPI implementation, request a quote or reach us at or at 714/630-9207.

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