Factors Affecting Printed Circuit Board Cost of Production

A wide difference exists in the dependability, quality, cost, and dependability of PCBs. However, the cost of generating a PCB generally ranges between 50 cents and 300 USD, depending on the broad development requirements. Moreover, the cost of developing a Printed Circuit Board relies on a wide range of variables which include the components used to build the board, the board’s complexity, the number of layers that will go into the board, and more.

A thirty-two-layer PCB is a common illustration of an expensive circuit. That is because a thirty-two-layer PCB is very complicated to manufacture, so it tends to be pretty expensive. But other than production complications and board properties, are there other features that make the production process of a PCB expensive? And if so, how can you cut some corners to reduce the cost of PCB production and still get a functional PCB?

Main Factors that Determine the Cost of a PCB

Assembly Type

When it comes to assembling a PCB, you can only do so using three methods:

–          Through-hole assembly

–          Surface mount assembly

–          A combination of the two (SMT and THT)

SMT (Surface Mount Technology) is less costly and quicker to produce when you compare it to THT (Through Hole) for the construction of a PCB. The reason behind this is due to the simple fact that THT calls for drilling the exposed parts of a PCB and sometimes even hand soldering. On the other hand, SMT tends to flow with top-notch technology. Hence the production process is pretty fast and also super sufficient.

Manufacturers mainly utilize THT because it forges a more solid physical bond with components. Hence helping them produce more durable PCBs. In addition, necessary connectors, transformers that might require a more lasting connection, and varying capacitors are often connected using THT soldering during the assembly process. However, manufacturers sometimes utilize SMT and THT to produce more durable PCBs while optimizing the production process.

Placement of Components

When developing a PCB design, you should always be cautious about where you place your PCB components. That is because your PCB costs may increase depending on where you place your components. Therefore, by reassessing where you place your PCB components in the designing phase, you can be able to drastically reduce costs of production.

Number of PCB Components (DIP and SMD)

During the assembly of a PCB, your circuit board design’s overall component count will affect the PCB manufacturing expenses immensely. Therefore, you may reduce PCB expenses by ensuring that your PCB design is as feasible as it is effective.

Component Package Size

Component package size (per square inch) is another factor that directly affects the cost of PCB production. However, when it comes to these factors, you can easily cut costs and still develop a functional PCB using this tip:

–          Always utilize component package sizes that adhere to industry norms

Doing so will help you minimize your expenses drastically.

Components Processes and Packages

During PCB assembly, technicians must follow a specific process to efficiently attach all the components to the board. Therefore, if you purchase a PCB that contains delicate, complicated, or so many component packages, then chances are that you are going to pay more for production.

Therefore, avoid exaggerating the number of components you insert in your PCB design to cut costs at this stage.

Batch and Quantity Size

When coming up with your PCB development budget, remember that your final price will depend on the total number of PCBs you order. Moreover, the batch size you order will also drastically affect the board’s cost of production.

In most cases, it makes sense for you to order more PCBs to cut prices. However, the batch size that you select will also affect your budget. But most people tend to ignore the batch factor, which leads to them spending more than they were expecting.

Although many businesses opt to manufacture PCBs in smaller batches, you should speak with your PCB manufacturer to determine the batch size that will effectively balance:

  • Turnaround
  • Quality
  • Productivity

Preparation of Special Parts

During PCB assembly, your charges will automatically go up if your PCB design needs special handling, for example:

  • Those designs with unusual lead lengths
  • The designs that have height restrictions
  • The PCB designs that have strange trace spacing

Therefore, reduce the cost of manufacturing your PCB by redesigning your circuit board to employ common processing needs and components. Avoid complex PCBs for example, flex-rigid PCBs, as they require special treatment during the production process.

Total BOM Cost

Rather than being a feature that increases your board’s cost of production, when you utilize it well, a BOM can help you reduce your board’s budget immensely.

A BOM is a Bill of materials you can utilize to determine the components that might lead to you going over budget to develop your PCB. After tracking and finding this expensive component, you can then decide to switch them up with cheaper alternatives. However, when substituting these expensive components with more affordable options, avoid compromising a lot on the board’s quality.

Bare Board Materials and Layers

When developing your PCB design, if you can utilize a thinner board or cheaper materials, then go for it. Doing so will automatically save you a lot of money.

Although many factors affect the cost of PCB production, these two factors (Layers and Materials) affect it the most. However, there are several options for materials. Therefore be keen to pick the most affordable ones that will work perfectly for your purpose. Moreover, avoid thick PCBs. They tend to be bulky and cost more money to produce.

Coating

There are various solutions available if your PCB needs a coating. Therefore, before you settle on the expensive versions, always try to find less costly coatings that function just as well as the first expensive ones.

Moreover, when selecting your coating substance and application, always consider the following:

  • Your batch size order
  • If the circuit board will require repairing or reworking (due to replacement parts)

With these two factors in check, you can easily find a cost-effective coating within no time.

Potting

When the PCB is prone to excessive humidity, moisture, or vibration exposure, potting comes in handy in some situations. However, depending on how you plan to utilize your PCB, you can choose to go with a coating instead to reduce the cost of production. Either way, for this stage, the price will solely depend upon how you plan to utilize your PCB.

Test Requirements

During the testing phase, your prices may go up if your PCB quality control test calls for inspecting several separate components. However, depending on the sort of PCB you are designing, you can have a variety of alternatives. But for the very best PCB testing choice, you should speak with the maker of your PCB first. Doing so will help you research how to make your design suitable for the less expensive tests.

Delivery and Shipping

Shipping your PCB might increase your PCB Production budget by a lot. However, the more PCBs you purchase at once, the less each unit will cost you in terms of delivery and shipping. Therefore, always order your PCBs in bulk to save money during the shipment and delivery phase.

Average Cost of Assembling a PCB

Printed Circuit Board assembly costs include:

  • The technology that technicians will utilize to assemble your PCB
  • The board’s Turnaround time
  • Labor costs
  • Packaging
  • The number of PCBs produced

Using a Printed Circuit Board manufacturing costs estimator, you can quickly pinpoint the average amount of money you will have to spend to assemble a PCB. However, most Printed Circuit Board assembly unit costs tend to range between 10 USD and 50 USD, depending upon the number of PCB units produced.

However, this cost estimate does not include crucial factors such as setup and tooling charges. Therefore, the total cost of assembling a PCB can vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer.

How you can reduce the Cost of PCB Production, in a nutshell

Printed Circuit Board Design

Understanding your PCB design is the greatest place to start if you want to lower assembly costs and production costs. During the designing phase, you should check on the following:

  • The type of surface finish that you are going to utilize on your PCB
  • The size of your PCB
  • Your board’s shape
  • The number of layers on your PCB design

When you have these three factors under control, you can easily handle your PCB budget.

Materials

The material that you choose to utilize on your PCB will significantly affect the following:

  • The cost of producing the actual  PCB
  • The performance of your PCB

Moreover, the materials that you utilize will determine the application areas of your PCB.

To cut costs, you should select cost-effective materials that are easy to package. Doing so will ultimately help you hit two birds with one stone and minimize long-term risk. That is because some electrical components or equipment take extra effort and time to package, which leads to their manufacturing process costing more money. However, if you select cost-effective materials that you can easily package, your PCB’s production cost automatically decreases.

Quantity of Printed Circuit Boards

Manufacturing PCBs in large quantities (large-scale production) ultimately lowers the circuit board assembly cost. Therefore, if you order your PCBs in bulk, your manufacturer will save money during production, reducing the amount of money they charge you to produce your board. However, if you order your PCB in smaller quantities, then you will pay more for a single unit.

Conclusion

By not considering multiple factors, most people spend a lot of money to produce their PCB designs. However, by considering simple elements such as design, material, and quantity, you can quickly lower the amount of money you spend developing your PCB. Therefore we hope this article will help you produce a cost-effective, functional Printed Circuit Board.