Certifications are critical when looking for your electronics contract manufacturer (CM) – especially when you’re in need of assemblies specific to the aerospace industry. Virtually anyone with the right manufacturing equipment can call itself a CM. Certifications are some of the only ways high-quality electronics CMs can distinguish themselves from less-professional manufacturers. The AS9100 certificate relates specifically to quality assurance in the aerospace and military industries.
History of the AS9100 Certificate
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) released Standard AS9100 in 1999. The purpose of the standard was to make the quality of manufacturing systems and processes in the aerospace industry more consistent across different enterprises. The ability of CMs to adhere to any standards – or none at all – in aerospace electronics manufacturing exposed customers to low-quality and defective products and components.
Lack of standardization ultimately threatened the health and safety of customers and those who used the printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other electronics. The SAE decided to put an end to unpredictable product quality by creating the AS9100 certification. Only when a CM fulfilled strict standards and requirements could it receive the AS9100 certification – separating it from low-quality and fraudulent electronics CMs.
The requirements in AS9100 are complementary to other legal and regulatory requirements in the aerospace product manufacturing industry – not an alternative to the rules. AS9100 only applies to parties involved in aerospace product design activities. SAE has published numerous versions of AS9100 certification requirements over the years as technologies and innovations change the industry. The latest version is AS9100D (published in 2016).
What Does It Take to Receive AS9100D Certification?
The full name of AS9100D is the “Quality Systems Aerospace – Model for Quality Assurance in Design, Development, Production, Installation, and Servicing” certificate. It is the aerospace industry standard for electronics manufacturing around the world. To obtain this certificate, electronics CMs have to fulfill a long and stringent list of standards on top of what already exists in the basic ISO 9001 requirements. CMs must continue to fulfill the accepted standards each year to qualify for renewals. Some of the current standards AS9100 requires are as follows:
- Better configuration management than ISO9001
- Special risk management procedures
- Industry-critical processes
- Increased focus on timely product delivery
- Supplier approval process
- Prevention of counterfeit components
According to the SAE, the goal of AS9100 certification is to demonstrate a CM’s ability to consistently provide products that meet customer, statutory, and regulatory requirements. This certificate has the power to increase customer satisfaction in aerospace and defense products by assuring regulatory compliance and constant system improvements. If a CM has the AS9100D certification, it means the organization fulfills everything required of a top-tier electronics manufacturer.
Why Check for a CM’s AS9100 Certification?
AS9100 enforces additional requirements on top of the basic ones in ISO 9001 for manufacturing in the aerospace industry. The ISO 9001 certification lists the basic requirements for a facility’s Quality Management System (QMS). The main elements of ISO 9001 are a strong focus on the customer, motivation of top management, consistent approach to processes, and constant improvement. More than one million organizations currently have ISO 9001 certifications.
Today, the AS9100 requirements are so popular that most suppliers will only work with certified manufacturers. As a customer looking for an electronics CM for an aerospace project, check for AS9100D certification to ensure your provider fulfills the most up-to-date requirements for quality control and management. Otherwise, you could be exposing yourself to costly manufacturing mistakes.
AS9100 in Action
At Saline Lectronics, our AS9100D certification applies to the high-quality military and aerospace PCB assemblies we provide to customers. Our manufacturing processes for aerospace electronics end products meet all necessary quality requirements according to the latest SAE updates. We also can build Class 3 PCB assemblies per customer request. The presence of the AS9100D certificate ensures our customers that their PCB assemblies will perform up to the highest industry standards.
Some of the products Saline Lectronics has assembled for aerospace clients that fall under the umbrella of the AS9100 certification include flight control computers, high-speed data encryption units, black boxes, fuel vapor detection modules, and unmanned vehicle control systems. We also perform conformal coating, potting solutions, and epoxy in-house to seal and protect many of our aerospace and military electronics products.
Our team adheres to the strict expectations of the AS9100 certification through design expertise, manufacturing best practices, and environmental testing experience. Every product Saline Lectronics creates meets the highest standards in this complex industry. When you employ us as your electronics CM, you can rest assured in our AS9100D certification and codes compliance. Contact us today to learn more about our aerospace and defense PCB assembly qualifications.