A PCB fabrication project is complex, with lots of factors to consider, and cost is probably the most important.
The key to optimizing costs is to understand the factors affecting PCB fabrication cost estimation, such as board size and complexity, lead times, board layers, and materials.
An advanced PCB editor, such as OrCAD PCB Designer, can help with estimating the cost of PCB fabrication.
There are many factors impacting PCB fabrication cost estimation
A PCB fabrication project is complex, with lots of factors to consider, and cost is probably the most important. To optimize costs, you need to consider a wide range of factors, such as board size and complexity, lead times, board layers, and materials. A PCB can cost from 50 cents to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you need. The key to optimizing costs is to understand the factors affecting PCB fabrication cost estimation.
10 Factors Impacting PCB Fabrication Cost Estimation
10 Factors Affecting PCB Fabrication Cost Estimation
Features that Increase Costs
Board Size/ Complexity
Larger, more complex board
Shorter lead time
Multilayered PCB board
Highly specialized finishes
Drill Hole Size and Count
Larger holes, more holes
Surface Mount Technology
Solder paste stenciling, reflow soldering, and other SMT tech
Filling vias fully with specialized materials
Specialized add-ons, such as countersinks and complex routing
Manufacturer’s location, reputation, and production facilities
As a PCB designer, you want to be able to estimate the costs of fabricating a board. Costs depend on various factors, including:
Board Size/Complexity: PCB size and complexity affect fabrication costs. Boards with more intricate designs require more materials and processing, making them more expensive. In addition, the overall size of the board used for a particular PCB project affects the final cost. The bigger size, the higher will be the initial cost.
Lead Time: PCB manufacturing and assembly costs are heavily influenced by lead time. According to Jabil, lead times for basic ICs can be more than 40 weeks, and high-end components can exceed 52 weeks. Projects with shorter lead times will generally cost more.
Layers: Fabricating multilayered PCBs costs more as it involves several intricate manufacturing processes, such as lamination and plating. And purchasing additional raw materials increases the cost compared to simpler single-sided or double-sided boards.
Raw Materials: Polyimide, copper foil, and fiberglass are some raw materials used for PCB manufacturing. More materials are needed for multi-layered PCBs than single-layer PCBs, which adds to the cost. The type and size of raw materials affect the final price of assembly.
Surface Finish: Highly specialized surface finishing, coating, and painting options are available to make PCB assemblies more durable. Manufacturers can use several gold and silver finishes for enhanced protection in industrial applications. The choice of surface finish will affect the cost.
Drill Hole Size and Count: The size and number of drill holes are another significant cost-determination factor in PCB manufacturing. Projects that require the drilling of small-sized holes incur additional costs because the manufacturer may need to use advanced laser drill techniques.
Surface Mount Technology (SMT): The use of SMT components can affect the fabrication cost. SMT components require precision assembly processes, like solder paste stenciling and reflow soldering, which cost more than through-hole ones.
Filling Vias: PCBs usually do not have completely filled vias. Some customers, however, want vias filled fully. In such cases, the fabricator uses non-conductive or conductive material to fill the vias, adding to the cost of the PCB.
Add-Ons: Some projects require additional fabrication on the standard circuit board. Some customers may want counter-bores, counter-sinks, complex routing, and controlled depth drilling. These require advanced techniques, cutting-edge tooling, and additional manufacturing operations, increasing costs.
Manufacturer Selection: PCB manufacturers have different pricing structures and capabilities. The overall cost estimation can be affected by factors like location, reputation, quality standards, and production capabilities.
These are some of the factors that you must take into account in your PCB fabrication cost estimation.
Optimize Cost in Your PCB Design with Cadence Tools
If you are designing a PCB within a budget, Cadence’s PCB Design and Analysis Software tools offer cutting-edge design software to help you design cost-optimized products. For more accurate PCB fabrication cost estimation, use an advanced PCB editor such as OrCAD PCB Designer.
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