PCB Assembly Cost: 10 Tips for Saving Money
The assemblage of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) can save you time. At the same time, it can dip a big hole into your financial pockets. That is why smart PCB buyers are looking for how to get a lower PCB Assembly Cost.
While you are considering the possibility of that, it is also important that you understand that some factors can influence the costs. It is those factors that we shall consider as rules of thumbs to help you cut down on the costs of PCB Assembly without sacrificing quality.
Helpful Tips for Saving Money on PCB Assembly Cost
So, we are now going into the full explanation of the things you need to do in order to optimize the amounts of money you will spend to get your PCB project done.
If you are ready to save those few dollars that you could have additionally spent, here are the ten (10) tips for saving PCB Assembly Cost to help you out.
- Locate and Work with a Low-Cost PCB Manufacturer
Of course, you already know that the PCB manufacturer is to handle most of the aspects of your PCB designs. So, the first step is to locate a manufacturer that is willing to handle the project.
It is important to point out here that some of these manufacturers put out the “low-cost” or “cost-effective” signals to attract customers. It is only when you have signed a deal with them that you will discover that it was all a bait, and that the actual costs are 3x higher than what you expected.
In as much as some PCB manufacturers may claim to offer cost-effective services, they may be far from stating the true position of things. That is why we went the extra mile to research on and bring to you some of the indicators that you need to know if you are paying more or less.
Parts and Component Sourcing
You aren’t the one to manufacture the PCB designs. It is the work of the PCB manufacturer. It is also in the job description of the manufacturer to source for and procure the important parts and components needed to make the job a success.
Now, this can be one of the “hidden holes that take a huge chunk of your money.” So, you have to be careful how you go about it. Ideally, the PCB manufacturer will be using different suppliers to get the needed components and parts for your PCB designs.
Because of the hectic process involved in the sourcing and manufacturing stages of the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), the costs tend to rise because the manufacturer isn’t concentrated and may make unfair and expensive bargains.
To that end, it is advised that you should give your PCB designs to a manufacturer that offers specialized services, such as Component Sourcing. With that, you are sure that the manufacturer will effectively handle the sourcing of the relevant components and still handle the job; all with ease.
It might interest you to know that the certificates that a PCB manufacturer has can also influence the PCB Assembly Cost.
For example, if the manufacturer has the UL Listing Service, it makes it mandatory that the manufacturers must accurately test their products in order to reduce the hassles of redesigning defective PCB products.
- Work with a PCB Assembler
It will do your budget for the PCB Assembly design a whole world of good if you go straight to the PCB Assembler. The reasons for doing that are not unconnected to the fact that the PCB Assembler is reputed to have an ongoing and robust relationship with suppliers.
Because of the cordial relationship that exists between the PCB Assembler and the PCB Suppliers, the former (the PCB Assembler) will be able to get PCB components at wholesale prices. That, in extension, means that the costs on your part will be reduced.
If you are not sure whether the PCB Assembler you intend using offers lower costs (at wholesale prices), you can ask to see the Purchase Invoice. From the invoice, you can see the likely costs you will have to foot for the PCB Components that will be used for your designs.
- Don’t Ignore the Panelization
The mistake many PCB buyers make is to ignore the Panelization. That shouldn’t be so because it plays an important role in the cost of the PCB Assembly.
If you are not sure how this impacts your PCB designs, a few illustrations (as made below) will help you have a knack of it all:
The manufacturer can help you reduce the costs of your PCB Assembly by combining the Panelization. This is usually the case when there are two (2) or more Turnkey PCB Assembly projects you have to design.
By combining and checking to see that the different panels are fitted together, the PCB manufacturer will be able to cut down on the PCB Assembly Cost. Doing that also makes it more flexible to improve on the efficiency of the SMT Assembly.
Consider the Accept X-Out
In as much as the size of the panels can make tremendous impacts on the PCB Assembly Cost, you should also consider another important aspect – the X-Out.
Going by the PCB industry standards, your failure to accept the X-Out option will greatly increase the cost of the PCB design.
Having X-Out in Different Places
Aside from that, X-Out can also come into play in another scenario. Here, we are looking at the panel that has X-Out in different places. In such cases, the PCB Assembly Cost will also shoot to the moon.
In this instance, the scenario plays out in the following ways:
- The SMT Machine has already been set and programmed to work on single pieces of the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). Therefore, adding more panels can increase the costs.
- On the other hand, if one or more of the panels is X-Out, more work will be created for the SMT Technician. Ideally, the technician will have to spend more time to manually adjust the X-Out board.
Hence, the additional time spent on the job will not only increase the PCB Assembly Cost, but will also extend the delivery time for the PCB design.
- Keep Consistent and Large Orders
One of the tricks to shaving off some costs from your PCB design order is to keep your orders consistent and large. We have two aspects to that, and those will be explained in-depth.
First, the rule of thumb is to make sure that your PCB design orders are made in large quantities. The idea is that the larger or the higher the volume of the orders you make, the lower the costs for assembling each of the Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).
Thus, you and your company have to make a definite decision on the volume of PCB designs you will be ordering. You have the options of settling for less (low volume orders), which attract higher costs. You may also decide to be in the middle (medium order volumes). But if you are really looking to reduce the PCB Assembly Cost, it is important that you go for the high order volumes.
Second, the consistency of your orders can help in shaping the reductions in your PCB Assembly Cost. For instance, if you order for 500 PCB designs in January and order for 300 in February, you can be sure that you will pay more in February. Therefore, make sure that your orders are consistent. If you are ordering 500 PCB designs in January, replicate the same throughout the remaining months.
Of course, you can always increase the order volumes. It is always better to order for more than to “settle for less.”
- Reduce the Complexities of the Board
It is no news that some PCB buyers want to get everything in one fell swoop. In as much as you are trying to incorporate many components as possible into your Printed Circuit Board (PCB), you should also note that it can increase your PCB Assembly Cost.
The basic rule guiding this is that the more complex or complicated the structure of your PCB Assembly is, the more money you will pay.
For that reason, it is pertinent that you reduce the complexities of the board in any way you can.
First, create a simple board and review your PCB designs so that they can be optimized to fit into the board.
Second, the optimization of the board to reduce the complexities also makes it easier for clearing every element on it.
- The Vias Also Influences the PCB Assembly Cost
You may not know but the vias used in the course of designing and assembling your Printed Circuit Board (PCB) can also have effects on the cost.
Ideally, three types of vias are commonly used on PCB designs. The first is the “Buried Vias.” The second is the “Blind Vias.” The third is the “Blind-Hole Vias.”
It is advised that you make use of the Through-Hole Vias. The reasons below explain why you should do so:
- The Through-Hole Vias are the most affordable of the three types of vias mentioned above. Since you are trying to reduce your PCB Assembly Cost, this can be helpful.
- Besides, the Through-Hole Vias go all the way through the board. That ensures that it gets to the point it is expected to get to.
This is not to discredit the Buried Vias and the Blind Vias. They have their own uses, especially when the High-Frequency and the High-Density complex Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are being designed. Besides, they are costly.
Therefore, because their primary use doesn’t fit into the PCB Assembly stipulations and considering that the Blind Vias (for instance) doesn’t get to the bottom or the top of the board, it is important that you stick to the Through-Hole Vias. That way, you will get the best value from the vias usage at competitive costs.
- Ensure the BOM Is Accurate
The mistake you will ever make (and which will also make impacts on the PCB Assembly Cost) is to submit incomplete Bill of Materials (BOM).
The Bill of Materials (BOM), which is expected to be uploaded to the PCB manufacturer’s website for quotation, must be complete and accurate.
In the event that you missed out listing out some important materials, you tend to have many back-and-forth times as you try to submit the bills once again.
So, be sure that the primary elements are included in the Bill of Materials (BOM). Some of them are:
- Component replacements
- Quantity of the components
- Manufacturer’s name
- Part number
- List of raw materials
- Sub-assembly items
- Provide Multiple Component Sources
If you are already have a component source or option, it is important that you look for others to add.
The provision of multiple component sources makes it easier for the PCB manufacturer to have greater options to choose from when sourcing the PCB components.
That, in extension, also means that you will be cutting down on the lead time and the hassles that may come with re-ordering the components. That way, you will get to save the PCB Assembly Cost that could have been accrued.
- Size the Board Rightly
The right sizing also has a role to play in the reduction of the PCB Assembly Cost. The general rule is that the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) shouldn’t too tiny or complex.
Always strive to keep your PCB the right spacing. If you are not sure of where to start, consider making the board rectangular or into a shape.
- Don’t Underestimate Inspection and Testing
The last but not the least is that you should reduce the PCB Assembly Cost by inspecting the PCB design while it is still in the manufacturing house.
It is important to do so because of many reasons, including:
- Inspecting and testing the PCB design at the manufacturer’s helps you to identify any issues in good time.
- In the event of defects, the manufacturer can always inspect and test the PCB design at lower costs, compared to the higher amount you would have spent if you had taken it to those specialized in inspection and testing only.
Those Tips Can Help You Reduce Your PCB Assembly Cost
Reducing the cost of your Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Assembly can be easy if you make the necessary modifications. We hope the tips above have helped you to understand the steps you can take to optimize your PCB Assembly Cost.
What other ways do you reduce your PCB Assembly Cost?