How to Choose a Country for Electronics Manufacturing

When designing a new device, finding the right factory for mass manufacturing is crucial. Outsourcing electronics production to other countries has become common practice due to the benefits it offers, such as lower production and shipping costs, advanced expertise of local manufacturers, favorable export duties, and even political stability.

Making the right choice from the outset is essential since changing locations after production begins can be costly. This article will explore popular locations for manufacturing electronics and reveal the steps needed to launch mass production.

Preparing for mass production

The journey of creating an electronic product starts with development, which can be handled in-house or outsourced to an electronics development company. Designing for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) ensures that the product is easy and cost-effective to produce. Electronics development companies consider the manufacturing capabilities of modern factories during the design phase.

Testing is a critical part of the process, occurring at all phases of development to ensure the final product meets functional, non-functional, and certification requirements. Certification is necessary for most electronic devices, as it demonstrates compliance with safety, environmental, and industry standards. Altering the design post-certification to meet these standards can incur significant costs.

PCB design documents, including the bill of materials (BoM), schematic, and layout, are essential. Tools like Altium Designer are used to create these documents, which are then exported as Gerber files for manufacturing.

Alongside hardware design, embedded software development is crucial. However, for IP protection, it is advisable to create test firmware that only checks the functionality of the board’s components.

Enclosure design documents, such as 3D models and assembly drawings, are also necessary.

Domestic vs. overseas manufacturing

Choosing between domestic and overseas manufacturing involves considering several factors.

Domestic production avoids export and import taxes and shipping delays, simplifies resolving issues and disputes, and eliminates communication barriers. On the other hand, outsourcing to other countries can significantly reduce production costs due to lower labor and raw material expenses, provide higher production capacity, tap into larger markets, and benefit from the reputation of countries known for electronics manufacturing, such as Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

Popular countries for outsourcing electronics production

When deciding on a location for outsourcing, various factors must be considered, including labor costs and productivity, logistics infrastructure, and the macroeconomic and legal environment. In Asia, China stands out due to its low labor and energy costs, advanced infrastructure, and high output capacity, although concerns such as trade tariffs and IP infringement exist. Taiwan offers skilled specialists and strong IP laws, while countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India provide low labor costs but lack the infrastructure and skilled workforce.

In North America, the United States is a leading electronics manufacturer known for strong IP protection and high quality, despite higher production costs. Mexico offers a growing electronics industry with lower labor costs and benefits from the USMCA trade agreement, making it attractive for North American markets.

Eastern European countries like Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Hungary are appealing for businesses targeting the European market due to their proximity to Western Europe and lower production costs.

Finding the right manufacturer

Different types of companies specialize in electronics manufacturing: ODM, OEM, and EMS providers. ODM companies design and manufacture products they own, which they sell to third parties. OEM companies produce parts or subsystems for another company’s final product. EMS providers offer a wide range of services, including electronics design, prototyping, PCB assembly, testing, and supply chain management.

Manufacturing requirements and logistics

Manufacturing requires considering factors such as minimum order quantities (MOQs), which depend on raw material prices, product margins, and market prices. Small manufacturers typically offer lower MOQs, suitable for prototypes, while large factories handle higher volumes with higher MOQs.

Product assembly, testing, and certification are all necessary steps before shipping. Proper packaging is essential to protect electronics during transportation. Shipping options include air and ocean freight, with considerations for FCL and LCL shipments, and on-land shipping by rail or truck.

Dealing with export and import procedures involves preparing required documents and understanding local regulations and trading agreements. Hiring a forwarder and customs broker simplifies the process.


Outsourcing electronics production complicates logistics and increases costs due to shipping and duties. However, it can also be beneficial in that it reduces production costs, particularly in countries with lower wages and energy prices. Despite challenges like communication barriers, countries like China, Taiwan, the US, Malaysia, Vietnam remain top choices for electronics manufacturing.

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