Analysis of China's small-scale PCBA manufacturing industry

Experienced designers will prototype or small-scale PCBA fabrication before projects enter mass production. To get an idea about the PCBA design and quality according to low volume PCB manufacturing, that also provides a good development option for low-volume PCBA. To help you become more comfortable when choosing a low-volume supplier, FS Technology describes here the details you need to pay attention to when choosing a PCBA supplier.


It relies on the thickness of copper for low volume PCBA is according to standard, either board comes with flat edges, smooth and tidy surface and the adhesion of copper foil is good enough or something else. These factors help to define the quality of boards. If the supplier can provide product quality that meets the standard or exceeds your requirements, then it is a qualified supplier and can establish a long-term relationship and convert small volume or prototyping to wholesale production.


In this speed-oriented market, faster production speed means better ability to occupy the target market, but this undoubtedly poses a higher challenge to the PCBA industry that requires customization. There has been a sharp increase in demand for expedited prototypes or small production runs from the customers FS Technology works with. In the face of huge pressure and challenges, in order to quickly complete more orders, FS Technology expanded its PCB production plant and added SMT assembly production lines. It is the wisest choice to choose to cooperate with a manufacturer that supports expedited orders, allows small-scale and prototype manufacturing, and provides a variety of PCB types.


Different manufacturers have different service types, FS Technology provides full turnkey PCB assembly service and half turnkey service. With the development of the electronics industry, finished product sellers have gradually shifted from a co-existence model of production and sales to a pure sales model, which on the one hand reduces personnel management costs and on the other hand speeds up the development of new products. As far as FS Technology’s full turnkey service is concerned, our service starts as soon as you place an order, design-production-PCB assembly-mechanical assembly-transportation services, you only need to solve the final sales problem. Better and better small scale manufacture services will help your products.

The three aspects mentioned above are the key factors for customers to choose small-scale PCBA production companies. It is the future trend of the electronics industry to promote corporate strategic deployment and promote their own business development by choosing better partners.

Overview of China’s Small Scale PCBA Manufacturing Industry

PCBA Manufacturing Industry Overview

PCBs and PCBAs

PCBA board called functional board that has conductive layers on surfaces over project components are connected over the substrate according to certain printing techniques, that are used to help to make accurate interconnection and relay transmission among different components.  It is an indispensable main part of electronic information products. The production quality of board has an impact on electronic product reliability and with that net competitiveness of system products, therefore PCBA is known as “the mother of electronic system products”. Since 2017, the annual output value of China’s PCBA manufacturing and assembly industry has grown exponentially. According to a report by the State Council of China, China’s PCBA exports will account for 50% of the global market in 2021. The substantial value-added of the industry promotes the development of small-scale production technology, and also improves the confidence of countries in the world to choose Chinese processing enterprises. 

Every electronic device has PCBA and the manufacturing quality of boards define the reliable operation and competitiveness of electronic device. PCBA is the main industry for use of electronic information devices practically and the application industry comes with different options. FS Technology is currently one of the top manufacturers in Shenzhen and even in China. Our customers are located in more than 150 countries around the world, and our products can be used in different fields, including: bearing the development of downstream industries such as industrial control, communication equipment, automotive electronics, consumer electronics, healthcare, and semiconductors. Product upgrades and iterations of emerging 5G, integrated circuits, new energy vehicles, and digital economy industries will continue to drive PCBA development.

Prototype and low volume PCBA fabrication industry overview

PCBA is a variety of customized products. If you want to make a detailed classification, you can classify them according to the number of layers, materials, functions, and hardness. According to the difference in the emphasis of printed circuit board enterprises on the order area market, there are differences in lead time, use of products, type of product, structure, technique used for manufacturing, and costs. The PCBA industry is also divided into PCB Manufacturing, PCBA Assembly, low-volume PCBA industry, and Wholesale PCBA industry. For manufacturing, they are more of dividing the industry into producers with factories and middlemen without factories.

PCBA mostly need in the R & D phases of users’ electronic devices, like research, development, and testing. It is the front link of prototype PCBA fabrication and has certain professional features.  When the electronic device is created and gets finalized then it goes to the low or wholesale PCBA manufacturing phase. So sample orders in the research and development stage are characterized by more varieties, small volume, and fast delivery.

Batch PCBA boards are categorized into small scale and large scale PCBA fabrication on the basis of order quantity. Small-scale PCBA is used for professional users like telecommunication devices, industrial machines, medical instruments automobiles, and large-scale PCBA is used for normal users like consumer’s electronics and the automotive industry.

More advanced applications of PCBA are industrial control of communication equipment, medical and health care, 5G base stations, microwave applications, etc. Professional PCBA companies have the ability to produce circuit boards required by the above industries. Normally, PCBA devices are needed to provide high reliability, durable operation, and good traceability, having a high need for PCBA production processes and materials. Normal amplifications for general consumers are consumer electronics and automobile electronics and PCBA devices are needs to have a thin structure, small size, and flexible nature. Due to the high demand of general consumers and generally standardized boards, the PCBA manufacturing scale of PCBA suppliers should be high. Sample and small batch PCB assembly devices have different types, therefore not affected by macroeconomic disturbance. Since there is a high difference and research and development, manufacturing, and sales operation. Because there are great differences in R&D, manufacturing, management, and sales modes between prototype PCBA, small run PCBA fabrication, and large-volume PCBA fabrication, types of PCBA enterprises come with different features for customers, products, and manufacturing.

few printed circuit boards

The development trend of China’s small batch PCBA board manufacturing market

On the basis of current policy, population, and industry benefits in China, the PCBA manufacturing industry will continue to move to mainland China in the future, and the output value of PCBAs in mainland China will continue to increase. From the downstream PCBA market, the market demand for electronic terminals is becoming more and more diversified, customized, and small in volume. More small batch manufacturing orders have been transferred from the United States, Europe, and Japan to the Chinese market. In addition, with the improvement of production capacity and assembly technology, the number of high-end PCBA boards exported from China has gradually increased. FS Technology expects that in the next few years, the demand for China in various countries will gradually rise, whether it is small batch, wholesale PCB, low-end, mid-end or high-end PCBA. The diversified development of electronic products requires that the quality of PCBA made in China needs to be further improved.

R & D

PCBA is an essential component of electronic information products that involve many downstream industries. The prototype is used in research and development, pilot testing, and the creation of new devices for downstream electronic information product production enterprises. Professional PCBA creators are needed to help in the manufacturing of prototypes at the R & D phase and the development of R&D investment in the industry is driving the continued growth in the prototyping market.

Industrial downstream applications

PCBA passes through all phases of electronic information products research and testing and is used in high-level industries through high R&D investment intensity like communication devices, automation, automobiles, semiconductors, and military instruments. Like this downstream of the small run board, assembly is used in enterprise-level expert’s customers applications industries like communication systems, industries machines, and automotive electronics.

Analysis of obstacles to the development of small scale PCBA fabrication in China

Management barriers in low-volume PCBA manufacturing plants

Small Scale PCB Manufacturing Company places higher demands on the ability of operators to manage production. For production planning, material supply technical data storage, switching of different product types, and uncertainty management, small-volume PCBA manufacturers need more good operation to get their required goals. For PCBA production, the chance of uncertain parameters is high. Efficient and rapid adaptation and allocation of limited resources are key management skills that PCBA manufacturing companies must have to operate efficiently. To make sure the optimization and accurate connection of numerous manufacturing links, perform good work for quality control of numerous products and make sure the delivery date of products is the embodiment of the core competitiveness of Low volume PCBA manufacturing provider. For new users to make highly flexible production lines follow the long-term accumulation procedure which sets up a high barrier to production management.

Customer Resources and Sales Network Barriers

Small scale PCBA production workshop

The average order area of low volume PCBA is small, and this average order area is about ten square meters. There is a need for bulk orders for enterprises and users to get high-level income. To make a high level of customer resources and sales system takes some time, and enterprises that enter the market have first-move benefits. With that setting, the prices of the sales system are high, and repair expenses are low. Once the first entrants establish a stable cooperative relationship with large customers, it will be difficult for new entrants to compete for market share.

Financial Barriers

To fulfill the demands of customers according to requirements for low volume PCBA production, it is necessary to have advanced-level manufacturing machines and increases the manufacturing testing features, flexible PCB manufacturing abilities, and continuous research and development features of enterprises. There are many small scale PCBA manufacturing procedures used, different types of machines and instruments, high unit prices of the latest machines and instruments, complex circuit production procedures, and large employment of working capital, so there are high capital barriers. For instance, a PCBA manufacturing line needs many latest machines like an exposure machine, vacuum air compressor, an automatic optical testing instrument, laser drilling machine, and pattern etching line Costly manufacturing devices and complicated technique procedures make the investment in fixed assets huge, which represents a high financial barrier for new entrants.

PCB manufacturing technical obstacles

The PCBA production market is a technology-based industry having technical barriers, PCBA industry is integrated into electronics, machines computer optical system materials, chemical engineers, and some other related programs. So it is compulsory to have a good understanding of all these disciplines and also have skills to apply these tools for accurate manufacturing.

For the manufacturing process, with the development of PCBA devices with accuracy and high density the manufacturing of numerous small run PCBA devices, especially numerous high-end devices or special substrate products, need different technical industry and process configurations, and includes various patented technologies, proprietary know-how, and special processes that have strong flexible manufacturing feature

For the processing of products construction enterprises need to have numerous capabilities like etching, drilling, etc. to make any type of small scale PCBA assembly devices. Any fault in processing will result in reduces finished product rate that affects the function of the complete supply chain where the enterprise situated.

In terms of application areas, the downstream application areas of the small-scale PCBA assembly industry are extensive, including industrial control, medical devices, safety electronics, communication equipment, aerospace, and many other industries. Users in numerous industries have different needs for PCBA devices and PCBA products have features of different types, complicated processes, and many applications of new technologies and materials.

PCBA production enterprises need to have the capability to offer services in different fields. With the growth in industry PCBA demands is increasing for industries that have high technical and manufacturing abilities and large companies that can quickly provide customers with comprehensive solutions. Small companies have limited skills and abilities, therefore there will be fewer orders for them as results have less profit, which will increase the market risk of new entrants in the industry.

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