Bring It Home: Onshoring


Not everything has to go offshore.


There is an alternative to sending all of your PCBs orders offshore: Find some companies right here in the United States who can do what offshore companies can do. 

There is a new trend in the PCB world called onshoring, which is exactly what it sounds like. Customers who for whatever reason want their boards built here in the U.S. scout around and find PCB fabricators that meet their needs.

There are a number of reasons that the onshoring trend is a rising star.

The most obvious right is the tariffs, which are robbing China of their formerly competitive PCB prices.  When China doesn’t offer steep pricing advantages, there is little reason to keep working with them.  So, the solution is to find an onshore supplier.

It is certainly much easier to deal with a domestic PCB supplier than to go to the trouble of finding one in Asia. The conveniences of dealing with the shop down the street are too many to list, and, of course, self-evident.

Then there is the matter of protecting proprietary technology and products. This is not just an issue with the bare board, but also with the technology that the board is going into. As everyone in our industry knows, product protection patent laws do not seem to work very well in Asia.

Some people say that we have lost the ability to build boards in this country. Not true.

Some people say that we do not have all the technology that companies in other countries have. Not true.

And some people say that the ability to develop new technologies has been lost in this country. Certainly not true.  More PCB technology is being developed in the United States than ever before.

Just go to Silicon Valley, or Chicago, or Southern California and you will see for yourself that none of these opinions are true. The printed circuit board fabrication capabilities in this country are still very much alive. 

All you have to do is take a look around.

In our shop, there are definite themes in the work we do.  One is that of speed.  I’m proud of our ability to put together complex boards under the very tightest of deadlines and deliver a product that has consistently high quality from piece to piece.  Chinese manufacturers generally cannot say that.

Another theme I notice on our jobs is that of engineering prowess.  Our engineers don’t just fill orders.  We are always looking for ways to make it fit better, produce it with less material, or cut out unnecessary steps or parts to make better designs at lower costs.  Lots of people say they’re problem solvers.  We have a portfolio that proves it.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning the theme of relationships.  You can call me on the phone and talk about your order.  Come see the shop floor.  We welcome that because when we know each other, our relationship will make both of us more successful.  The better I know you and your vision, the more strategic my team can be in delivering quality PCBs in short order at a fair price.

When you’re thinking about strategies for beefing up your supply chain, onshoring your PCB manufacturer is a great way to start.  And, it doesn’t have to be all-in or all-out.  Why not look at onshoring at least 10-15% of your PCBs?  Then, if you have a critical problem that affects Asia’s ability to deliver (like what happened here), you already have an established source for boards right here, stateside.  You can avert a crisis in one phone call.  That makes onshoring PCBs worth a look.



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