Printed circuit board manufacturing costs are some of the biggest concerns for electronic designers and manufacturers. All over the globe, PCB manufacturers Cost Breakdown seem concerned about how they can reduce their manufacturing costs. Many PCB manufacturers look at how they can reduce their manufacturing costs while ensuring they maintain their quality.
Learning cost breakdown involves finding the cause of the problem and its solutions. Going through this guide as a PCB maker, you’ll understand much. Mostly, you’ll get to know how to go about minimizing PCB manufacturing costs. In this guide, you’ll find helpful information on what you need to pay attention to if you want to maximize your cost savings.
1. Factors of PCB Manufacturing Cost Breakdown
Do you want to reduce your PCB manufacturing costs? Abiding by the following rules of the thumb can help you mitigate such costs. Here is what you need to need to do to cut down your PCB manufacturing costs.
PCB design service
If you choose high-end design services, you will have to spend more since high-quality PCB design services are expensive. The moment you decide on other complementary services, you will incur additional costs. Extra services that you may have to undertake include PCB testing and prototyping before manufacture. You need to know that each other use adds to extra some additional costs.
To maximize your cost savings, you may have to reduce extra PCB design services. Design services cost more. The more services you put in, the more you’ll incur. Even though you don’t need to compromise on quality, you may have to limit the number of services you put in.
After all, the more the services, the more the costs. Some design services will cost more. If you source such services from experts, then you will have to dig deeper into your pockets. At times, you may require advanced PCB design software for your design. If that’s the case, then the costs will undoubtedly increase.
Circuit board size
How big or small do you want your boards to be? If you manufacture large panels, then you’ll incur huge costs. Without a doubt, the size of the board will affect how much you’ll have to incur manufacturing them.
Among other things, PCB cost production depends on the size of your boards. A 14 X 18 board will be cheaper to produce compared to a 16 X 22 board. Huge boards will require many raw materials. All this will see you incurring extra costs. Ultimately, the dimension of your printed circuit board is a determining factor of its overall price. Huge boards contain several columns, meaning that it will cost you more.
If you want to minimize costs, you may have to consider reducing the size of your boards. But again, all this depends on your budget. If you aren’t on a budget as such, then the board’s size doesn’t matter as such.
Circuit board layers
Another huge determining factor that will see you incur extra PCB manufacturing costs is the number of layers your board has. For obvious reasons, panels with three or more layers will cost more to manufacture than those with merely two layers. In addition to the types of materials used, the size of the board affects its overall price. Generally, thick boards with several layers require a lot of work to manufacture.
Costs tend to increase the moment you add a second layer to your board. From there, an additional two panels then raises the cost by at least one-third of the price you paid before. The price continues to increase the moment you add more layers to your board. Every layer demands more production steps, especially in the lamination process. Therefore, it means more time required to achieve, in addition to a larger supply of raw materials.
Depending on where you want to use your board, you may have some that require more layers. With additional layers, you’ll incur more. If your PCB endures high amounts of stress, its layer count will matter. That way, you should be prepared to pay more.
Board material and component material
The components and materials that go into the manufacture of your PCBs will affect its overall costs. In the manufacture of PCBs, you’ll require many materials. Some of them include copper foils, Solder mask, vocabulary, and the final finish; the more board materials that you choose to use means, the more costs that you’ll have to incur.
Materials aren’t the only thing. The components that you’ll use will determine how much you will have to incur. The materials that you choose to use will invariably affect the cost of your boards. Some of the factors that affect material selection include thermal reliability, heat transfer, and signal performance. Others have mechanical properties and temperature reliability of the materials you choose.
Therefore, in addition to component material, board material will have an impact on the cost of your printed circuit boards. If you go for high-quality materials, then expect to pay more. It’s as simple as that.
PCB assembly technology
PCB assembly technology mostly consists of Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and Through-hole technology. Are you a PCB manufacturer to scale down your manufacturing costs when it comes to PCB production technology? If that’s the case, you may want to think of using Surface Mount Technology instead of through-hole technology. Surface Mount Technology is highly efficient and cost-effective. If you resort to SMT technology, you’ll save a lot compared to THT technology. Surface mount technology is cheaper compared to other technologies. If though the results may not be perfect, its costs are slightly on the lower side.
The degree of design complexity
The complexity of your design will ultimately cost you more. If the design of your PCB is involved, then you’ll have to pay more. PCB design may be complicated, especially with the addition of more layers. Such may demand more technique and practice. If you want to minimize your PCB manufacturing costs, then you may want to reduce the degree of design complexity. Intricate designs are always expensive.
They demand a lot of work and many hours. If you choose intricate PCB designs, then rest assured that you will pay more. Complex systems consist of many tracks and may require professional mounting methods. Designing complex PCBs is not an easy process as such. It calls for a lot of time and extra expenses.
Production batch size
How many PCBs are you going to produce? Apart from the above, your PCBs’ batch size will impact the costs that you’ll have to incur. If you manufacture a large number of PCBs, then you’ll have to incur more charges. Again, for obvious reasons, the production batch size will impact the values you incur. Large batches increase the average inventories that you’ll require. That translates to increased costs as a PCB manufacturer. It is important to note that if your PCB batch size is large, then the manufacturing costs will be high.
Turnaround time (TAT) is the time interval taken from submitting a process to the time that the entire process will end. In other words, it’s the time taken from when you get to place an order for something to the time that such an approach will end. So, how fast do you want your PCBs delivered to you?
If you want them within the shortest time possible, then you’ll have to spend a little bit more. But why, you ask. It’s because the firm may have to put other things on hold. Your producer may have to stop or slow other processes to handle your order. If you are a PCB manufacturer with little time to deliver, you’ll incur some extra costs. You may have to request some of your staff to work extra hours or at odds hours. Such will see you incurring additional costs. If you want to produce your PCBs fast, then be prepared to incur additional charges.
What type of packaging do you want for your PCBs? Cheap or expensive? If you choose high-end packaging, then you’ll have to incur more costs. Packaging plays an important factor in price. The reason is that packaging increases the total cost of a product. If you want to reduce the value of the overall PCB manufacture, then you may have to reduce the quality of your packaging selection.
Packaging adds value to a product in both invisible and visible ways. If the packaging is proper to prevent damage during transit or storage, then the costs will increase. Appropriate packaging is essential. It improves the image of your company. However, you need to be aware that your packaging selection will have significant impacts on the costs.
Compliance with standards and certification
Compliance with certification and standards will have an impact on PCB manufacturing costs. For a PCB manufacturer to comply with required standards, many things must come into play. For instance, a manufacturer may have to use high-quality raw materials and some of the best production standards. Not all this comes cheap, as you may imagine.
If you have to comply with standards and certifications, then you’ll undoubtedly incur more. Compliance with certification and standards is necessary if you are to remain competitive. However, you need to be aware such will see your PCB manufacturing costs increasing.
(Mass production of PCBs)
2. How to Save Cost from PCB Manufacturing Cost Breakdown
Do you want to save costs from PCB manufacturing? Apart from the above, you may have to consider the following cost reduction measures:
Number and size of holes on the board
The number and the size of holes that you’ll want on your board will increase its costs. If you choose to have many holes on your board, then you’ll incur increased production costs. Additionally, if the holes’ sizes tend to be large, rest assured of additional manufacturing costs.
Large holes demand the use of advanced equipment. If the holes to be large, rest assured of increased manufacturing costs. But also, if they are small, it may demand a lot of precision. If you intend to save costs, you may want to reduce your board’s holes’ number and size. Unless you are not on a budget, many spots on the board will see you spending more.
Trace width (signal conductor)
Trace width is one of the most critical design parameters in the design of a PCB. Adequate trace width is necessary to ensure the transportation of the desired amount of current. All this must take place without overheating or damaging the board. Trace widths will affect the cost of your PCBs. If you choose wide PCB traces, then you’ll have to pay more. Enlarged trace widths will surely cost more; enlarged trace widths demand extra solder mask to the trails. Such may see you spending slightly more.
Customized goods cost more. Many things go into customization, a reason as to why personalized goods will cost more. The same is true when it comes to the manufacture of PCBs. Custom specifications on a PCB will see its manufacturing costs increase. If you want to reduce your PCB manufacturing costs, you may have to limit matters to customization.
For custom specifications or exclusive products, expect to pay more. To save costs from PCB manufacturing, you may have to limit custom specifications. Special features always call specialized skills. If your design requires details that are hard to produce, then you should expect increased costs. Mostly, special tools are often a necessity when designing unique boards. Such will see you spending more.
Inspection and testing
Finally, yet significantly, inspection and testing will increase your PCB manufacturing costs. Tests and assessments are essential. They help in detecting errors early before mass production. The same is true when it comes to PCBs. Examination and tests ensure the production of high-quality PCBs.
However, with inspection and tests, expect increased PCB costs. Do you want to reduce difficulties and inspection costs? If so, then it’s better to stick with a single PCB assembler. That way, you’ll ensure that you roll out high-quality PCBs but at the lowest price. While you’ll be able to cut costs, you’ll do so without sacrificing the quality of your products.
(PCBs ready for sale)
3. How to Estimate PCB Production Cost
Estimating printed circuit board production costs is not a difficult thing as such. But of importance to note is that several factors drive manufacturing costs high. So, how do you go about estimating PCB production costs? There are several ways of doing so. However, the following are the three most effective ways of estimating PCB production costs. If you stick to these three, you’ll most likely find the best estimates for your PCBs. Here are the three most effective ways of estimating PCB production costs:
Determine design specifications and the steps required to achieve PCB cost breakdown
One of the best ways of estimating PCB production costs is by determining design specifications. The design specifications will give you a rough estimate of what you will have to pay. To estimate what it will cost you to design your boards, look at its design specifications. How many layers do you want on your board? Do you need special PCB design services? If that’s the case, then you will have to pay more. Better yet, you’ll get an estimate of what your production costs will be.
PCB engineers use several criteria to estimate the cost of producing their boards. Design specifications or what the final board should look like is one way of doing this. If you get a clear picture of design specifications, then you’ll get a rough estimate of what you’ll spend. As mentioned earlier, design specifications may either increase or decrease the cost of your PCB. If the design is simple, then the price will be lower. Likewise, if the design specifications aren’t that complicated, then producing your boards shouldn’t be that expensive.
Avoid costly repetition
Repetition is a very costly exercise. If you don’t find ways on how to avoid repetitions, then you’ll end spending more. If you want to find a rough estimate of what your PCBs will cost, then you’ll need a clear strategy. You’ll need a pen, paper, and everything clear about what you need.
This way, you’ll be in an excellent position to avoid repetitions. Repetitions, if not given sufficient attention, may end up being costly. As a PCB manufacturer, avoiding repetitions is one way of getting an estimate of what you’ll incur to manufacture your boards.
Use of PCB cost calculator
The last and probably the most effective way of estimating PCB production is using a PCB cost calculator. It is one of the simplest forms of finding what you’ll have to pay to produce your PCBs. For many years, PCB makers have been looking for ways of making the lives of their clients more comfortable. One way of doing this is by providing online calculators on their websites.
Online calculators help customers know how much they’ll have to pay for their boards’ assembly. Have you sure you want to cooperate with manufacturers? If so, make sure that they have a calculator to help you know how much you’ll pay for assembly. Some of the best PCBA assembly calculators are relatively easy to use. They provide you with accurate and instant quotes. All you need to do is enter the relevant PCB parameters, the delivery price, and location.
The calculator will then give you a rough estimate of what you’ll have to pay. Most PCB cost calculators will ask you to key in important details that you want on your board. Some of the details include the number of layers, material details, and board size. Others have the quantity, lead time, and surface finish, to mention but a few.
(Mass assembly of PCBs
4. Function and Manufacturability of PCB Cost Breakdown
The manufacturability of its parts directs traditional PCB cost breakdown. If there’s a hard choice between two designs, then the ease of manufacturability is mostly the deciding issue. The reason for this is that it cost less as opposed to optimum functionality. Recently, though, the advent of 3D printing and additive manufacturing is helping. It brings about less PCB production costs.
With 3D technology, it’s now possible to manufacture highly efficient boards. To get rid of high costs stemming from custom PCB design requests, designers do more. Most of them calculate PCB cost breakdown before going into full production. Getting to determine the design specifications and the steps needed to bring it to fruition with a PCB cost breakdown is essential. It helps in breaking down the costs and preventing any hidden cost overruns.
(PCB manufacturing process)
The high cost of manufacturing PCBs is something that bothers manufacturers all over the globe. With high PCB manufacturing costs, customers bear the most significant burden. Mostly, high costs of production usually get passed on to customers. But that should not always be the case.
Are you looking for a reliable manufacturer who can deliver your PCB cheaply without compromising on quality? If so, look no further than OurPCB. Before manufacturing your boards, we look at ways of helping you avoid unnecessary production costs.
We at OurPCB work with customers to ensure that we provide them with the best boards, the way they need them. Are you in the market for the best boards? If so, feel free to contact us today and let us discuss more PCB knowledge together. We are more than happy to assist you in finding the best boards.