A PCB is an electronic card used in digital devices. It has a wide range that varies from each other in terms of sizes, weights, materials, specifications, and characteristics. The PCB technologies implicate complex designing and manufacturing techniques depending on the application level of the PCB. Hence the price of a printed circuit board may only calculate by considering the features of a circuit board. But assuming the design and specifications of a circuit board, it is possible to estimate the PCB price. Depending on the design intricacy of a PCB, its manufacturing and assembling expenses may cost higher or lower than a standard PCB. According to the general rule of cost estimation, a PCB intended for portable and non-complicated devices should cost less than a PCB manufactured for high-tech machinery and military-grade. However, if you still want an estimation, a PCB may cost about $1-$300.
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PCB material, size of the board, number of layers, and design complexity are the four main factors that specify the cost of a printed circuit board. But other factors can significantly impact a PCB price. In this article, NextPCB is shedding light on those PCB manufacturing and assembling factors that influence the PCB price the most.
The material selection of a printed circuit board is the most integral part of PCB production. As such, the material used in the PCB influences its price and properties. Generally, standard PCBs use FR-4 as the base material. However, for high-tech and intense working PCBs, the material may change depending on the electrical and mechanical requirements of the circuit board.
For example, in aerospace and military-grade devices, standard FR-4 substrate will serve a different purpose and eventually, high-quality material with better specifications will get prioritized.
The factors that impact the material selection may include.
To maintain insulation and reduce signal loss in high-frequency and high-speed circuit boards, PCBs required substrate with lower loss tangent and higher glass Transition Temperature to ensure undisturbed and accurate signal transmission from one point to another. Such high-frequency compatible material usually costs more than the standard materials. For instance, the PCB substrate and other materials used in microwaves cost Ten times higher than the materials used in households and handy devices like toys, etc. Hence, material selection is the most significant factor in estimating a PCB price.
The size of a PCB, quantity, and panel utilization are three of the most impactful factors after material selection in determining a PCB price. The number of small circuits needed to integrate on an individual PCB determines its size. However, panel utilization includes the placement of multiple PCB circuits on a single PCB laminate to use most of its space.
The number of components and their sizes also affect the size of the PCB, which is directly proportional to the circuit board price.
In the end, the quantity of the PCB matters a lot. Bulk orders allow manufacturers to place several small circuits on a single panel. This method reduces the manufacturer's hassle and cuts the production cost by dividing it into multiple circuit boards.
The number of layers is another significant factor that determines the PCB price. Usually, single and double-layer PCBs cost lower than 4-layer and multi-layer PCBs. However, a remarkable difference appears if the circuit board already uses a high-quality material like PTEF and Rogers. Further, multi-layer circuit boards require more intense labor and manufacturing time. Hence, considering the added material, labor cost, and manufacturing time, the NextPCB is stating a rough estimation of the increase in PCB price with each increasing layer in the circuit board.
A surface finish is any non-oxidizing conducting material deposited on the bare copper of the PCB. The surface finish protects open copper pads and improves the solderability of the circuit board. As such, a surface finish boosts the solderability and connection between the signal track and the component; it is crucial to use a compatible finish according to the requirements of the PCB. Some high-quality PCB finishes ensuring longer shelf-life, whereas some basic finishes work enough for hand-held devices.
HASL is one of the most common and budget-friendly finishes, but it is non-compatible with harsh environmental and electrical conditions. On the other hand, ENIG is a better finish than HASL but a little higher in price too. However, the hard-gold and soft-gold finish is the best option for incredibly enhanced performance and shelf-life, which is usually a demand for high-tech, aerospace, and military-grade devices. Hence, depending on the application and operating environment of the PCB, the finish may be a considerable cost driver.
Different Finishes offer distinct features. For instance
The size of holes and vias is another factor that impacts a PCB price. Their quantity and diameter reflect the required labor and time. If a PCB design implements several too-thin diameter holes, it will increase the circuit board price; because a thin diameter hole requires special machinery and more specialized and careful labor to take out the task.
Another element that plays its part in placing holes into the list of factors that affect PCB price is the layer account, quality, and thickness of the material. Along with the size and quantity of the holes, the type of PCB material also impacts PCB price because a thicker PCB with rigid material is hard to drill and usually takes longer.
The type of soldering technology used in the circuit board has a direct relation with its price. The through-hole assembling usually comes at a higher cost because through-hole technology needs several holes to drill in the board's surface and may require obsolete components.
On the other hand, surface mount technology is more budget-friendly as it does not require holes which is a cost-driven factor. Also, the market demand and easy availability of the components reduce the PCB assembling price.
Hence, the manufacturer counts assembling technology as a factor that affects the PCB price.
The number of components describes the required holes, drilling time, assembling cost, and labor. Ahead the place consumed by the electronic components also affects the PCB price. If a PCB uses several electronic components of enormous size, surely it will add up in its surface area. Further, too many through-hole or surface mount components will increase the assembling time and required labor. An increase in the following will eventually affect the PCB price.
By utilizing some simple techniques and modifying things, it is possible to reduce PCB prices. A PCB usually end-up expensive when the designer needs to pay more attention to manufacturing tips and tricks that help reduce PCB price. Here NextPCB is stating some primary manufacturing practices that may help you to do so.
When designing the circuit, try to simplify and keep it small. There are many practices to consider while fitting a large complex circuit design in a small space. Pay attention to the spacing between the tracks and the surface areas of the pads. Unnecessary gaps between the tracks will occupy space for no good reason. Another way to reduce the surface area of the PCB is to use smaller components. Here the SMT components take over the battle! Because they are tiny and widely available.
Each increasing layer adds up to 20-40 % to the PCB price. Hence, reducing PCB layers may tremendously decrease the overall cost. Squeezing a circuit is quite impossible but designing it by considering some PCB designing techniques is always something to appreciate. An experienced PCB designer can always incorporate the best design techniques to reduce circuit board prices. So investing in a good designer may lead to reduced manufacturing costs.
To reduce the PCB price, prioritize the surface mount technology in the boards. SMT is the most used assembling technology that helps reduce the number of holes and surface area of the circuit board. It provides a better connection between the components and the PCB tracks and avoids drilling stress to the PCB. SMT does not require the same labor as THT and has a higher market demand. Hence, it is less expensive.
Each manufacturer quotes a different price for the same PCB design. It may take a lot of work for a beginner to find a budget-friendly and reliable PCB manufacturer that provides quality under a reasonable price tag. But do not worry; the NextPCB got you covered here! NextPCB has been delivering PCB manufacturing, assembling, and component sourcing services for over 15 years. Our dedication and experience of more than a decade have listed us among the best PCB manufacturers in the world.
To avail of our services, contact us here.
The NextPCB has stated the seven factors that affect and helps estimate PCB price. To simplify the cost estimation, NextPCB is writing it in the simplest form.
Single-layer PCBs, the engineering fee of $23 + plate-making fee of $0.006 per square centimeter + film fee of $0.0075 yuan per square centimeter.
Double-layer PCBs, the engineering fee of $37 + board-making fee of $0.0075 per square centimeter + film fee of $0.0075 yuan per square centimeter.
Four-layer PCBs, the engineering fee of $90 + board-making fee of $0.0015 per square centimeter + film fee of $0.0075 yuan per square centimeter.
However, some manufacturers may also include additional testing charges of $0.0003 per point, depending on the complexity of the kanban.
The delivery time and quantity also help in estimating the PCB price. The bulk quantity orders with no special delivery dates always cost less than the small orders with urgent delivery requirements.
Material choice, number of layers, surface area, number of components and holes, surface finish, and assembling technology are some factors that affect a PCB price at most.
A standard PCB may cost more than usual if the designer lacks the necessary designing techniques and needs to make decisions wisely. Above, the NextPCB has stated some tips to reduce a PCB cost and an easy method to estimate it. We hope it will help!