Branded USB Memory Sticks : The Manufacturing Process Explained

Custom USB Flash Drives from USB2U

It seems that USB memory sticks have been with us forever and its hard to imagine life without these ubiquitous devices for home, work and educational use. They have also become a leading promotional tool for many organisations, which in turn drives their proliferation into the market.

Anyone considering buying branded USB Memory sticks will typically deal with a local specialist rather than deal with the manufacturers in the Far East and of course being a little biased we’d suggest you use USB2U. As a specialist supplier of branded USB Memory sticks over the last 7 years we have an excellent track record of delivery some great USB solutions to thousands of large and small companies and schools in the UK.

USB2U (and hopefully other local suppliers of Branded USB Memory Sticks) manage the entire end-to-end process, but more importantly we ensure that the manufacturing process is fully audited and of a high quality.

So what should you be looking for when selecting a supplier? Of course price is important, but this alone should not be the primary driver. A small saving may be a false economy if end users start to experience problems when using the Branded Memory Sticks. Think of the reputation risk and the inconvenience of getting these replaced.

Whilst there is no substitute to full due-diligence, there are some simply things you can do to sort the wheat from the chaff when selecting a supplier.

•    First ensure there is a contact telephone number on the web site and speak to a representative.
•    Check they have a proven track record by contacting previous clients.
•    Ensure they only use new branded USB Flash Memory, e.g. Samsung.
•    Ensure they are working from a business premises. There is a growing trend for individuals pertaining to be companies, but working from home without the infrastructure to support you if things go wrong. An easy way to check this is by using Google Earth.
•    Finally do not pay for any part of the order until the goods are ready for despatch.

Once you have selected your supplier it’s worth understanding the manufacturing process. On the face of it you would assume that the manufacturing process for Branded USB Memory sticks would be simple. However, pulling back the veneer shows a complex and challenging process.

The vast majority of Branded Memory Sticks are manufactured in China and Taiwan.

There are 3 hardware components that make up a Branded Memory Stick:

•    The Flash Memory Chip, which comes in various memory sizes from 64Mb to 16Gb.
•    The PCBA Board which houses the Chip, Electronics and USB Connector
•    The casing that houses and protects the USB Memory Stick. These come in a myriad of shapes, materials and designs.

USB2U (or other local supplier) will be contracted to the factory that will purchase each of the above three components and then assemble them. A reputable and experienced factory will typically follow this process:

1.    They will purchase the Flash Memory Chips from companies such as Samsung, Hynix, Micron, Intel or other OEM brands. Ensure they do not use B grade or recycled flash memory (its common and worth checking).
2.    All flash memory chips are QA tested before attaching into the PCBA
3.    Any data that needs to be pre-loaded (presentation file, sales PDF’s etc) onto the USB Branded Memory Stick is typically loaded at this stage.
4.    The assembled units are then once again QA tested and a “screen grab” of the data and how its shown/structured on the memory stick will be sent to the client for sign-off.
5.    The factory will purchase the housing from dedicated housing manufactures. Again whilst certain models look the same from an image there are often difference in the type of material is used so it may be worth getting a physical sample
6.    The next step is for the factory to screen print, emboss or engrave logos onto the shell of the USB Memory Stick. This can be a long and drawn out process if completed by hard, however most of the larger factories have fully automated printing processes. A proof (often a photographic proof) will be sent to the client for signoff.
7.    The factory’s production line is then responsible for inserting the PCBA into the housing.
8.    Once the units have been assembled a full QA is again undertaken.
9.    Any accessories are added to the USB Branded Memory sticks, e.g. key rings.
10.    Finally they are packing into gift boxes or bubble bags.
11.    A courier picks up the goods, which need to be cleared through the originator’s and destination customs controls

This entire process can take between 7-14 days

Once the Branded USB Memory Sticks arrive with your supplier they will then undertake their own QA process before dispatching these to you.

Remember if you wish to purchase direct from the Far East, manufacturers are desperate to secure new business and will offer heavily discounted rates by cutting many of the quality corners mentioned above. They will expect money upfront before production commences and some of them will not be that forthcoming if things turn turtle…so buyers beware!

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