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Donner Company Case Essay

5120 words - 21 pages

Harvard Business School

9-689-030
Rev. December 11, 1998

Donner Company
In October 1987, Edward Plummer, president of the Donner Company, was reviewing the company's position prior to planning 1988 operations. strip: artifact consisting of a narrow flat piece of material The Donner Company manufactured printed circuit boards to the specifications of a variety of electronics manufacturers. Each board consisted of a thin sheet of insulating material with narrow metal strips (conductors) bonded to its surface. The insulating sheet acted as a structural member and supported electronic components connected by the conducting strips. In the customer's plant, assemblers (human and/or ...view middle of the document...

This also has left the printed circuit board industry vulnerable to the frequent upturns and downturns of these industries. Since the start of operations in 19851, the Donner Company had specialized in making circuit boards for experimental devices and for pilot production runs. Most of the company's managers were engineers with substantial experience in the electronics industry. Plummer and the firm's design engineer, Bruce Altmeyer, had created several of the company's processing methods and had patented applications, processes, and modifications of some commercial machinery. Plummer and Altmeyer both believed that the Donner Company was more adept than its competitors at anticipating and resolving the problems inherent in new designs and prototype production techniques.
Captive shop: managed as an affiliate or subsidiary of a corporation and operated almost exclusively for the use or needs of the parent corporation rather than independently for the general public

1Income statements are shown in Exhibit 1.

This case was prepared as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Copyright © 1988 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685 or write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.

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Donner Company

Artwork: An accurately scaled configuration of electronic data used to produce the artwork master or production master.

Manufacturing Process
Donner's manufacturing process produced circuit boards known in the trade as "soldermask over bare copper" (SMOBC) boards. This SMOBC process became popular in the early 1980s as customers demanded denser circuit patterns and greater reliability. The SMOBC manufacturing process consists of three stages: preparation, image transfer, and fabrication. In the first stage, artwork and computer control tapes are produced while raw materials are prepared for processing. In the second stage, the conductor pattern is transferred to dielectric (insulating) base stock. In the third stage, the base stock is cut and shaped to create the individual printed circuit boards. The most common sequence of operations is listed in Exhibit 2.

Preparation Stage

Cladding is the covering of one material with another. foil: a piece of thin and flexible sheet metal; shear: shaped or finished by cutting or trimming to a uniform length

"Master" artwork, received from the customer, is used to produce a negative image replicating the exact circuit pattern, with actual dimensions. Depending on the final circuit board size, the individual image is often repeated to...

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