In the modern era, PCBs are the backbone of almost every electronic device. PCBs are the combination of PCB base materials, components, vias, and so on. These are needed to be assembled. PCB assembly cost comes when you need to assemble a PCB.
Different types of PCBs cost differently. A multilayer PCB will not cost the same as a single layer PCB. On the other hand, there is a manual and automated PCB assembly process too.
With all of the matters, here we are going to comprehensively discuss PCB assembly costs. So, let’s go deeper into PCB assembly.
PCB Assembly Process
Basically, the PCB assembly comes after making all PCB parts, boards, drilling, and other related facts. They are related to PCB manufacturing. But our discussion is on PSB assembling.
That comes after making all the necessary parts of a printed circuit board. The PCB assembly process lies in several steps. Let’s see how they happen step by step.
PCB Assembly Process Goes Through Several Steps
Solder Paste Application
The very first step of the PCB assembly is to apply solder paste where the components will be soldered. The stencil is used in the SMT process to apply the solder paste all over the PCB board where needed.
The stencil is connected to the board mechanically. An applicator spreads the paste on the board equally. It is necessary to use the proper amount of solder paste.
After spreading the solder paste, let your SMT robot pick and place the components on the PCB. It is an automated process.
For the automated process, designers create a file at the designing level which ensures the automated process with the right alignment.
After placing the components, now the time is to solder the components with the board. The SMT uses reflow soldering. In the reflow soldering, you need to put your boards on a conveyor belt, which will go through an oven.
The temperature is about 250° which is enough to join the components with the board.
After assembling the components, inspect the boards if they are assembled properly. You may go through several inspection methods to ensure the quality of the PCB. If everything is ok, and get the green signal from the QC department, the PCB assembled is completed with success.
What Does A PCB Cost Include?
A PCB cost is influenced by several factors. Because PCB manufacturing includes various things. Let’s see how a PCB costs entirely.
PCB Manufacturing Includes Several Cost Segments
PCB Board Cost
One of the main cost points is PCB bare boards. But, the PCB board cost also differs for various reasons. These include PCB layers, material selection, etc. The costs for 4 layers, 8 layers, 16 layers, etc., are different from each other.
Another cost section of PCB manufacturing is PCB components. There are different types of components included in a PCB assembling cost.
You need to purchase different components including diodes, resistors, capacitors, ICs, transistors, and so on. They will cost you a significant portion of the entire PCB manufacturing cost.
The quality and quantity of the PCB components also play a major role to increase and decrease component costs.
PCB Assembly Costs
PCB assembly cost is an important aspect of PCB manufacturing. Nowadays, PCB assembly costs can be calculated with the PCB assembly cost calculator transparently. You can calculate PCB assembly cost per component.
However, the cost of PCB assembly demands another section to elaborate on. We will be discussing this one in the next section.
Which Factors Do Affect PCB Assembly Cost?
The basic factors that impact the PCB assembly costs are Assembly technology, cost of labor, the quantity of PCB assembly, Time, Parts packaging, etc.
There are mainly two types of component placement technology used in PCB assembly. They are Surface Mount Technology and Through-Hole Technology.
A big portion of the PCB assembly cost relies on the component placement technology the manufacturers use.
Basically, SMT technology is highly cost-efficient. It implements automation, which also saves time. On the other hand, the THT may cost a little higher than the SMT.
PCB Assembling Technology Is One Of The Biggest Portions That Affects PCB Assembly Cost
Cost Of Labor
The cost of labor is one of the key factors that impact the cost of assembly. The labor cost varies based on geographical location.
For example, if you assemble your PCB in South Asia, your labor cost will be significantly lesser than the cost in North America, or Europe.
For cost estimation, a 3-day turnaround assembly in North America will cost you around $1,100. But, on the other hand, this cost will be just around $550 in China. So, you will get low-cost PCB assembly here in China.
The turnaround time is the manufacturing process of a particular lot of PCBs. When the question “How much does PCB assembly cost?” comes, the turnaround time impacts significantly here.
As expected, a faster turnaround time will cost you more than a comparatively long turnaround time. This may increase the cost by up to 33% for a faster turnaround time.
It is a normal fact in the manufacturing industry that a higher quantity of production always costs you less. So, if your quantity is higher for PCB assembly, you will get a cost-effective assembly, no doubt.
Some sensitive parts need special packaging for proper assembly. For example, in BGA PCBs, BGA will go under a special assembling process and inspection to ensure the proper electrical connection.
Influence Of PCB Materials On PCB Assembly Cost
The PCB material is the biggest area of PCB costing. For example, FR4 is the most common PCB material that costs standard expenses.
On the other hand, high-frequency PCB boards need to be built with high-grade materials like PTFE, Polyimide laminate, etc., which will cost more.
PTFE Has A Great Thermal And Mechanical Performance
The following factors influence the selection of materials for PCB manufacturing.
- Thermal Properties: based on the application, the need for the thermal properties is different for different types of PCB. High thermal management capable material will cost more.
- Heat Transfer Ability: You need to check the heat consumption-ability of the material. Can the material withstand the highest heat environment where you place the PCB is the most important thing?
- Signaling Ability: The signal passing ability is checked for the particular application. The material must ensure the required signal passing for the PCB components.
- Mechanical Properties: The material must withstand the required physical stress in the determined environment.
So, summing up things, if you go for high-power PCBs, the material should be higher-graded. On the other hand, the low-frequency PCB could be handled with the standard FR4 materials.
How To Reduce PCB Assembly Cost?
The cost you can reduce, the profit you will gain.
Various PCB assembly cost breakdowns lessen the PCB assembly cost to a certain extent. Let’s see and talk about them.
Proper Decision Making Is Important To Reduce PCB Assembly Costs
Maintain Equipment Cost
The equipment cost is entirely going to the PCB manufacturer. It is one of the most crucial aspects for the manufacturer in assembling PCBs.
When the manufacturer assembles a lower number of PCBs at a time, there are many wastages produced. Also, breaking in the middle of assembly increases the cost as well.
So, one of the best solutions is to cover a large lot for assembly at a time. This will save time and cost per every cycle of the SMT component placement.
Aside from this, proper maintenance of the SMT equipment is a must. While this extends the lifespan of the machines, it will save you additional costs for the PCB assembly.
Order Large Quantity
As we mentioned before, if the quantity increases, the PCB assembly cost will automatically decrease. The large quantity of PCB facilitates a large number of PCB assemblies at a time.
With this, the breaking time of SMT machines, and maintenance costs, are decreased. Also, the cost will be the same for a cycle, either you assemble 10 PCBs or 100 PCBs at a time in a 100 PCBs assembling plant.
Get The Labor From Low Paying Geo-Location
The labor costs are different for different regions. The labor cost in America, and Europe is not the same as the labor cost in South Asia, especially in China.
This cost is significantly different based on the geographical location. So, you should get the labor from a cheap labor country. It will save you more than 50% of your PCB assembly costs.
Utilize The Highest Potential Of The Workplace
Utilize our workplace’s highest potential. Try to reduce workplace wastage. Don’t facilitate extra workplaces if not needed. Merge multiple workplaces in one place if possible.
If you can save space by doing proper utilization, the cost will be significantly reduced.
Comparison Between Cost Performance Of SMT And THT PCB Assembly
Surface Mount Technology (SMT)
Surface mount technology is the component mounting process in PCBs that doesn’t require drilling on the PCBs. The SMD components are powered by smaller leads instead of pins that are joined to the PCB by reflow soldering.
SMT facilitates PCB compact in size, along with HDI PCB density.
Surface Mount Vs Through-Hole, Which One Is Cost-Effective?
Let’s see how SMT assembly works in the following video.
Through-Hole Technology (THT)
Before coming to SMT, through-hole was the only component mount technology for PCBs assembly. In the THT, electrical components are inserted into the PCB through drilled holes.
The components pins are drilled on the other side of the PCBs with the solder pads.
Cost Comparison Between SMT And THT
As per the names mentioned, you will find several differences between SMT and THT. Let’s compare them at a glance.
- As drilling is needed in THT, it is a costly process for assembling. So, in this case, SMT is more cost-efficient than THT.
- SMD components are lead-free, on the other hand, THT components have leads. SMT is environment-friendly compared to THT.
- SMT is a technology that implements automation in soldering. On the other hand, THT is manual, automation reduces a significant number of PCB assembly costs.
- In terms of size, SMT allows for designing compact PCBs. So, SMT helps to save space and design high-density and high-frequency PCBs, wasting less space.
Does Custom Specification Increase PCB Assembly Cost?
Nowadays, the PCB assembly process upgrades with a positive slope. Modern electronics has brought out a new dimension in the PCB world. That’s why consumers prefer various custom solutions while manufacturing a circuit board.
But is it cost-effective?
If you think from the point of view of cost performance, you can find that custom specifications have a significant influence on PCB assembly cost.
Custom Specifications Of PCB
The more you do customization on your circuit board, the more will be the cost. Usually, consumers desire customization in the case of layer count, trace dimensions, copper thickness, metallic coatings, conformal coatings, etc.
All of these things are related to the factors that increase the assembly cost of a printed circuit board to a large extent. That’s why you need to handle custom specifications with close attention.
It is beneficial to find a middle way so that you can customize the assembly process without increasing the budget extremely. If you can manage component sourcing for instant customization from a reliable and economical source, you can optimize the assembly.
Most noteworthy, always find a way for soldering, layering, or trace designing which are supportive of cost minimization. Don’t forget the budget constraint overthinking custom specifications.
Cost Estimator In Flexible PCB Assembly
Cost estimation is a vital part of flexible PCB assembly processes. Designers pay close attention to the cost estimator while dealing with a Flexible PCB.
Sometimes, you can find some luxurious projects containing unnecessary high volume, large sizes, high layer counts, etc. But you can save the cost of a flexible PCB assembly service by utilizing a reliable cost estimator.
Aspects Of Flexible PCB Cost Estimator
How does a flex PCB cost estimator function? Which factors play a role while estimating the assembly price?
Have you ever thought about these issues?
Usually, there are some crucial aspects to doing a flexible PCB Assembly cost estimator. Such as-
Number of layers
Layer count is a pivotal part of flex PCB assembly. If you intend to estimate assembly cost perfectly, you need to set the number of layers more precisely.
You don’t need to apply multiple layers in a flexible PCB if you find it OK with a single side operation. So, check its functionality first by placing the components on one side. Then, you have an idea about your do’s and don’ts.
Check this video about flexible PCB design:
Types Of Flexible PCB
Flexible PCBs have versatile types. You must consider the functional properties of a flex PCB while handling the cost estimator.
Material selection is highly important whether you use a single flexible circuit board or panel. The material utilization rate is also crucial in this case. As these PCB materials are roll units, you can’t set the size to more than 250mm.
In most cases, flexible PCBs are compatible with hard gold or immersion gold surface finishes. Between these two options, immersion gold is more economical compared to a hard gold finish.
PCB hole dimensions are another vital factor for flexible PCB assembly. You need to set the minimum hole size to more than 0.25mm. Besides, different specifications of drilled holes and back drills are important.
Minimum spacing between different layers should be around 2-3 mils. Again, trace length, width, etc are essential factors while dealing with flex PCB cost estimators.
Flex PCBs have particular construction. These circuit boards require sufficient flexibility and stretchability. That’s why you can’t afford to use heavy copper while fabricating flexible boards.
Usually, 1 oz copper or 3 oz copper thicknesses are suitable for most flexible circuit boards. Thinner coppers keep the assembly cost lower than heavy copers.
The compact size of flexible circuit boards is supportive of cost optimization purposes. You should try to improve the material utilization rate that lessens the assembly cost to a certain extent.
Flexible PCB connects to support the following stiffeners-
- Aluminum stiffener
- FR4 stiffener
- Pi stiffener
Among them, you can keep the price to performance ratio of PCB assembly by using FR4 and Aluminum stiffeners. Usually, harder stiffeners are preferable for this type of PCB manufacturing.
Limitations Of Cost Estimator
Similar to the other side of the coin, flex PCB cost estimators have some drawbacks. These cost estimators don’t offer versatile optimes like rigid PCB cost estimators. That’s why users don’t prefer it in many cases.
DFM Checking Cost
DFM means Design For Manufacturing. PCB design is an essential part of the entire assembly process. It is required to check the design multiple times before moving to further steps.
That’s why DFM checking cost is a part of PCB assembly cost. But many manufacturers offer free DFM checking costs nowadays.
Can OEM Service Optimize PCB Assembly Cost?
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) service in PCB assembly has a lot of positive points that promote electronic manufacturing quality. Cost optimization is one of the most noteworthy advantages of OEM service.
Because of that, its applications are continuously increasing day by day. Do you have knowledge of how OEM affects PCB assembly cost?
Let’s find out the key points.
PCB original equipment manufacturing renders an opportunity to develop PCBs high-volume productions. It’s a great advantage for the manufacturers and clients.
Besides, OEM is effective for maintaining optimum standards in every step of manufacturing. That’s why the assembly cost becomes more effective compared to other services.
It is difficult for a new PCB manufacturer to develop the product in its own factory. In that case, PCB OEM service is highly beneficial to them. You can conduct large-scale OEM PCB assembly at competitive prices.
The production cost of this process is not so high. Besides, quick-turn OEM assembly is reputable for low time consumption. It also makes this PCB cost-effective.
Moreover, an OEM allows you to produce immense electronic products without developing the factory. So. OEM PCB is supremely business-friendly. All of these features indicate the cost-effective feature of OEM services, don’t they?
High Functional Properties
PCB OEM supports multilayer designs and panelization, which are reputable for cost-effective performances. Both of these PCB forms are highly functional and develop signal transmission systems.
Moreover, OEM is useful for maintaining thermal management in multilayer circuit boards.
Longevity of PCB Assembly Service
The lifespan or durability of the PCB assembly process plays a crucial role to minimize cost. PCB OEM always maintains the quality of electronic circuit boards. That means the assembly of the circuit board lasts for a long period. So, you don’t need to be worried about frequent replacement, repair, etc.
Besides, it takes care of designing, fabrication, marketing, etc with supreme reliability. It is very rare to compromise the efficiency in the case of original equipment manufacturing. So, the production and maintenance costs get cut down to a certain degree.
Long-lasting OEM Service In PCB Manufacturing
OEM PCB is used in versatile electronic projects. Its availability and convenient usability improve its cost performance.
You can find this circuit board in telecommunication and consumer electronics. Such as digital clocks, microwave ovens, wireless charging, networking devices, etc.
Again, it is applicable in industrial production. Oscilloscopes, medical equipment, defense industry, and aerospace appliances are composed of PCBs having original equipment manufacturing.
So, the OEM PCBs can operate with their maximum effectiveness when they have come through the OEM. These factors have a great impact on assembly costs.
PCB assembly cost minimization is a common requirement during all circuit board manufacturing. So, you must consider all factors that influence the assembly cost.
PCBMay is a reputable PCB manufacturer in China. We offer reliable assembly services for different circuit boards at an affordable cost. Contact us to get the best PCB assembly within the shortest time.