PCB assembly costs have been one of the key concerns for electronic manufacturers for several years now. There are several factors that add to these costs such as the size of PCB, the material used, spacing between components, and so on. These factors must be carefully analyzed to make the right choice. If you are working with experienced PCB fabrication and assembly services, they will help you make the right selection. This post offers insights on the factors that will help you reduce PCB assembly costs, without compromising on the quality.
10 Tips to Lower PCB Assembly Costs
The PCB assembly costs
are dependent on several factors. This section focuses on 10 such important factors that are generally known to escalate these costs and offers solutions on how to keep them in check.
- Material of PCB Boards: Cost reduction in PCB assemblies begins with the type of material you choose for making printed circuit boards. There are several materials like FR-4 laminate, which is the most common material for PCBs. You will get different variations in FR4 laminates, too. In addition to this, you can consider materials like CEM-1, RF-35, Polyimide, etc. Today, you can also find halogen-free and RoHS compliant materials, although they may be slightly expensive. So, as per the requirement or the industry you operate within, you can choose the material accordingly and maintain the cost of the final product. Do not compromise on the material quality as it may lead to disastrous consequences in the long run.
- Surface Finishes: Surface finishes are added to the PCB to improve their performance and aesthetic appearance. There are different types of surface finishes such as ENIG, HASL, OSP Finish, ISN Finish, and IAG Finish. Each of these surface finishes has typical advantages and their costs also vary. So, you need to choose the one that perfectly meets your requirement and offers a solution to your challenges. If you are working with experienced manufacturers they would guide you on this factor.
- Size of PCBs:The size of the PCB board and complexity of design are two factors that would further escalate your assembly costs. For instance, bigger PCBs will have more layers, and this will increase the costs by at least 40%, so it’s important to choose the PCB size wisely as per the product requirement.
- Optimize the Schematic Design:The PCB design helps locate the components on the PCB board. So, when designing the board it’s better to perform a design for manufacturing (DFM) check. This DFM check is usually performed using software and it will identify the errors in the design and help you optimize the schematic design. This will further reduce design errors and allow you to save on manufacturing costs.
- Space Maintenance between the components: Proper spacing of components helps improve the performance and shelf life of the PCB. If kept closer to each other, heat dissipation may be a problem, and all components may heat up simultaneously leading to the early failure of the board. If kept farther, you may require additional soldering to connect them. In the first case, you need to reinvest in maintenance costs, and in the second case, the manufacturing costs will increase tremendously. So, the components must be properly placed. The ideal space between the components and the PCB edge should be 100 mils. Also, ensure that the components are placed at an angle of 0 or 90 degrees.
- Number and Size of Holes: A PCB may comprise through-hole and SMT components. The through-hole components demand holes, which are created using automated equipment. The size and length of the hole have several impacts on PCB assembly costs. If you opt for extremely thin holes then the cost may go up as they are created using advanced automated equipment.
- Penalize the PCBs: If you are considering bulk production then it’s better to produce PCBs in panels. This not only reduces the cost of manufacturing but also increases the efficiency of the assembly. While doing this, ensure that fiducial markers are present on the PCB panels to keep a check on the accuracy of the product.
- Clear Components Sourcing: There are several components required for assembling a PCB. It’s better to source your components from a renowned distributor because they can provide you with the components at wholesale prices which is much lower than the retail price.
- Maintain the Lead Time: The PCB lead time is the overall calculation of the time from, starting time to the day of delivery. Rush deliveries or next-day deliveries may be expensive. So, always choose the lead times such that you can save on the costs. If there are no emergencies then it is always better to choose standard lead times, which may vary between 5 and 7 days or in some cases 15 days with different assemblers.
- Check the Order Volume: Order volume affects the overall cost of PCB assembly. If you are manufacturing a good number of PCBs in a single time then it will make the price of the PCB assembly less expensive.
The above given points can help you out in reducing the cost of your PCB assembly while maintaining its accuracy. This will boost your market reputation. If you are looking to partner with a trusted and experienced manufacturer or planning to purchase PCB assembly for your upcoming project then Sierra Assembly Technology is the best choice. The company has been serving clients across aerospace and satellite, industrial electronics, military and defense, and so on for several years now.