How Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing Helps to Reduce the Cost of Electronics Manufacturing
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are the boards that electrically connect and mechanically fasten the electronic components that make most electrical appliances function. Concerned companies, businesses, and individuals must find a low cost PCB supplier in order to create cost-effective electronic products.
In this article, we’ll be discussing what inexpensive PCB manufacturing is, and the way it maximizes resources. Also, we will then explain steps to achieving inexpensive PCB manufacturing, and how to achieve it. Let us get started
What is Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing?
To ensure the performance of the finished product, the process of PCB manufacturing requires a complex procedure. Although circuit boards could be multilayered, double, or single, the fabrication processes used differ just after the creation of the first layer. This is due to the PCB structure differences. Some may need about 20 steps during the manufacturing.
The steps required in manufacturing PCBs are proportionate to its complexity. Any step that is shortened or skipped might have a negative impact on the circuit board’s performance. However, once completed, the PCBs must function effectively as the critical electronic components.
Non-standard shapes are always more expensive to design than standard square and rectangular PCB shapes. This is due to the latter incurring upcharges from PCB fabricators. Also, unless absolutely necessary, avoid using cutouts and slots. Paying a fabricator for cutouts and other modifications will be necessary in some cases. When there is no compelling reason for the circuit board to be non-standard, always choose a standard shape to reduce overall costs.
How Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing Maximize Resources
Around the world, there are numerous circuit board manufacturers. Costs of PCB manufacturing are affected by a number of factors. The main goal of inexpensive PCB manufacturing is to keep costs low while maintaining quality. In addition, low-cost board manufacturers use a variety techniques to reduce PCB fabrication costs.
A low-cost board does not necessarily imply poor quality. In order to produce high-quality boards, inexpensive PCB manufacturing maximize their resources. These services achieve inexpensive PCB manufacturing by utilizing the following.
Low Labor Costs
Labor costs are a factor in manufacturing costs. When labor costs are low, fabrication costs are reduced. For example, due to low labor costs, PCB companies in China offer low-cost PCBs.
Advanced Manufacturing Technology
Advanced manufacturing technology is used by cheap board manufacturers. The fabrication cost of PCBs is reduced. To reduce PCB costs, low-cost board manufacturers upgrade their production equipment. In addition, these manufacturers improve their manufacturing processes to reduce costs.
Inexpensive materials for assembly
The purchase of components and materials adds to the PCB manufacturing cost. Obtaining high-quality materials at a lower cost can help to reduce production costs. Furthermore, most low-cost board manufacturers provide a one-stop shop for PCB fabrication. These manufacturers are responsible for acquiring PCB materials.
Steps in Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing
Circuit boards must be 100% compatible a specific PCB layout designed by designer making use of the software of PCB design. Altium Designer, Pads, OrCAD, Eagle, KiCad, and other PCB design software are commonly used. Designers should let the contract manufacturer know about their version choice of PCB design software used in designing their circuit prior to PCB fabrication to avoid issues caused by discrepancies.
The PCB design can be printed once all of the checks have been completed. PCB plans, unlike architectural drawings, do not print on the standard paper. A plotter printer, rather than a standard printer, is used.
Extra copper must be removed from the printed circuit board’s core or inner layers before the fabrication process can continue. Etching entails covering the necessary copper on the board with a chemical and exposing the rest of the circuit board to it.
Alignment of Layers
After cleaning all of the PCB layers, they are ready for layer alignment and optical inspection. The previously mentioned holes are used to align the inner and outer layers. To align the layers, a technician uses an optical punch, which is a type of punch machine.
An X-ray machine is used to locate the drill spots prior to drilling. Then, registration/guiding holes are drilled to secure the PCB stack before drilling the more specific holes.
Plating of PCBs
The panel is now ready to be plated after it has been drilled. The plating process employs a chemical to bond all of the PCB’s layers together. After being thoroughly cleaned, the PCB is immersed in a series of chemicals.
How to Achieve Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing
Choose a standard color
The most common color for solder masks is green, while white is used to depict the legend. The majority of inexpensive pcb manufacturing processes are optimized to produce these two colors of solder resists and legends. The majority of inexpensive pcb manufacturing processes are optimized to produce these two colors of solder resists and legends. To change your board’s color to ensure it stands out, make sure it’s absolutely necessary because it will cost you extra.
Incorporate regular vias
Costs vary depending on which of the three available vias you select. The use of buried and blind vias is required on complex high frequency and high density boards. Consider using regular through-hole vias if your PCB design is simple (more than 90% of PCBs are simple). Using buried and blind via types in a basic design can increase PCB costs by more than 25%.
Reduce PCB thickness tolerances
Although tight PCB thickness tolerances may improve board performance, they will almost certainly increase PCB design costs. As a result, it is recommended that you use tight tolerances only when customers specifically request them. Otherwise, when it comes to thickness tolerances, a restriction is the best policy.
Include large diameter holes
Include larger diameter holes in your design whenever possible. Because special machines are required for smaller holes, fabrication companies will charge a premium for holes smaller than 0.4mm. The same holds true for minimum annular rings, which should not be less than 0.3mm if you want to design low-cost PCBs.
It is not impossible to design PCBs on the cheap while keeping them functional. The measures outlined above are a very effective way to provide a low price.
Guidelines for Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing
Consider using copper components that are dimensioned
Did you know that the separation and size of copper components increases PCB costs? The reason for this is that printing parts with smaller dimensions necessitates the use of high-precision machinery. The machinery, while capable of handling the minutest of tolerances, raises the cost of the circuit board. When designing circuit boards with low production volumes, the cost rises even further.
When possible, make use of a single layer
Another area where design costs can be reduced is the layout of the PCB layers. The cost rises as the layers increases because it multiplies the charge for printing the board.
Set a minimum surface area with a minimum clearance/spacing
The larger the surface area’s dimensions, the higher the cost. You can keep the space to a minimum by carefully planning component routing and placement. The rectangular box will encompass the shape paid for regardless of the shape of the PCB.
As a result, if you want to maximize the area you get for your money, make your circuit board rectangular. Choose spacing and track width dimensions that will allow you to finish the design comfortably. The greater the spacing, the lower the cost of your circuit board when it is manufactured.
The size of the pad holes and via could be the same
The cost of a board is frequently affected by different types of vias and pad holes in its design. For example, if a board has 0.2mm and 0.5mm hole sizes on the same unit, the cost will most likely be higher. Setting the holes to the same size is a simple way to design low cost PCBs.
Factors Influencing Cost of PCB Manufacturing
The costs of PCB manufacturing are affected by a variety factors, including pcb size, layers, material, quantity, copper thickness, and the turnaround time.
Different material uses and grades can also affect the costs of PCB manufacturing. FR4 is less expensive than the High Tg and high frequency high-speed materials. The materials in the board will always have an impact on its cost. The standard PCB are usually laminated with the FR4, but this is insufficient for boards designed for different high intensity applications.
The greater the size, more the materials are needed and the more the cost of manufacturing. The oversized circuit board might exceed the PCB manufacturer’s process capability, necessitating the use of specialized mechanical equipment.
The layers a PCB has, like the multilayer PCB, the more complex the manufacturing process, the longer the turnaround time, the proportionally higher the manufacturing cost. PCBs with three or more layers are obviously more expensive to produce than boards with only two layers.
Thickness of Copper
Thick copper PCB cost more than the standard PCB. Thicker material could be more expensive to obtain.
The quantity of the PCB prototypes exceeds the cost of huge or mass production. Ordering many times regularly will be less expensive than ordering only once at a time.
Factors to Consider When Buying Inexpensive PCB
This is the first and most important factor to consider when purchasing low-cost PCBs. We strongly advise you to never compromise on PCB quality.
You always have a budget in mind when purchasing a product. This also holds true when purchasing electronics. Your budget will also influence which cheap PCB supplier you choose. So the key question is how to choose one at a reasonable price.
Function and dependability
Maintain a balance between cost and turnaround time. If you want a quick turnaround time and a low cost, you may run into some issues. The PCB’s reliability and functions may be jeopardized.
Delivery & Lead Time
When purchasing low cost PCBs, you should consider the delivery and lead time. For cheap PCB boards, you can find suppliers who offer quick delivery and quick-turn manufacturing. They will offer these services to all customers worldwide.
Professional firms will always inform you of the total cost of your PCBs. As a result, you should always choose manufacturers who offer instant quotes on their websites.
Considerations When Choosing an Inexpensive PCB Manufacturing Service
Printed circuit boards can be made by any PCB manufacturer. There are, however, differences in the technologies and processes employed. As a result, when selecting an inexpensive pcb manufacturing service, you should take a few factors into account.
Quality control begins with well-defined procedures and processes. Other automated systems are also included to check each project throughout the fabrication process. Quality can be verified by X-ray and AOI for low cost PCB manufacturers.
There are also several methods for testing the functionality of a board. These manufacturers’ goal is to provide high-quality, low-cost printed circuit boards.
Some low-cost circuit board manufacturers have established a reputation for quality. Furthermore, these manufacturers will hire experienced and trained technicians. These technicians are experts. They also have the necessary experience and skills for PCB fabrication.
These manufacturers will include training programs to ensure that personnel follow the proper procedures. Furthermore, these low-cost board manufacturers use cutting-edge technology. They have a well-established manufacturing process as well.
You should look for low cost PCBs manufacturer who is responsive to customer needs. Choose a manufacturer who has your best interests in mind. Customers should be able to purchase low-cost printed circuit boards from manufacturers.
A good low cost PCB manufacturer should be able to accommodate a variety customer requests. With their experience, this manufacturer can also complete production runs. This manufacturer should be able to provide a variety PCBs. When selecting low cost PCBs manufacturer, flexibility is critical.
Hillman Curtis should be your best partner if you seeking inexpensive PCB manufacturing. Asides inexpensive PCB manufacturing, we offer quick turnaround, custom manufacturing, medium and small-volume manufacturing, as well as turnkey assembly services.