Factors Affecting PCB Assembly Costs and Tips to Save Your Costs

Factors Affecting PCB Assembly Costs and Tips to Save Your Costs
Factors Affecting PCB Assembly Costs and Tips to Save Your Costs

Purchasers and engineers, especially those who have just set foot in this industry, will ask questions after receiving the PCB assembly quotation: What costs are included in PCB assembly?

What factors will affect its price? And how to reduce the cost of PCB assembly? Well, in this blog, we will answer them one by one, please read on.

What Costs Are Included in PCB Assembly?

What Costs Are Included in PCB Assembly

  1. PCB Charge

If you need the PCB manufacturer to fabricate the bare PCB board for your PBCA, then, the PCB board would be the first part of the cost. The costs of PCB boards are determined by the difficulty of PCB manufacturing and the materials used.

  1. Component Procurement Cost

Normally, PCB assemblers would purchase the components for clients, and some customers would also nominate the components suppliers, so PCBA providers just follow the BOM to get the right components, and this is another important part of assembly costs.

  1. Engineering Cost

For small quantity orders, factories would charge for engineering costs or set-up costs, normally, such costs are included in the PCB assembly cost and SMT cost.

  1. Stencil Cost

The stencil is necessary for PCB assembly, no matter you use framed stencil or frameless stencil. Thus, when we calculate the cost, stencil cost should also be considered. Normally, framed stencil costs much more than frameless stencil, but in most cases, we use framed stencil and use the frameless stencil only for prototyping.

  1. LaborCost

Unlike Surface Mount Technology (SMT), DIP soldering requires more labor because it is a manual soldering process, so labor cost is another aspect included in PCB assembly.

  1. PCBA Testing Cost

Some customers require additional testing for the functionality and programming of the PCBA, which is another aspect that needs to be included in the PCB assembly cost.

Main Factors That Affect PCB Assembly Costs

Main Factors That Affect PCB Assembly Costs

  1. Type of Printed Circuit Board Material

The cost of printed circuit boards is determined by the materials used, commonly used materials include FR4, Polyimide, PTFE, and metal, generally speaking, FR4 costs less than metal materials. But please remember that choosing materials for PCB should not only focus on the cost, more importantly, we should pay attention to the performance of each material, making sure the material used can meet your product requirements.

  1. The Number of Layers

The number of layers is a very critical factor that would affect the PCB assembly cost. The more layers of PCB you need to assemble, the more it will cost you. For example, multiple layers PCBA would cost more than single-layer PCBA. But the layers of PCBA should be dependent on your exact requirements. For some complicated devices, multiple-layer PCBA is necessary to make sure that the device can be performed as expected.

  1. Assembly Technologies

Technologies used to assemble components would also affect the PCB assembly cost. Generally, surface mount technology(SMT) costs less than through-hole technology(THT), as the process of SMT is automatic and more efficient, while THT spends more time as it requires to puncture holes on the circuit boards. In addition, some PCBs may also require to use ball grid arrays or BGA assembly which would increase the assembly costs. So before we start the assembly, we need to figure out the requirements of your projects and choose the right assembly technologies, do not ignore the performance of components only because you want to cut assembly costs, as it might cause the failure of PCB or even the entire device.

  1. Country Labor Costs for PCB Assembly

Labor costs would affect the PCB assembly costs to a large extent, and labor costs vary by region. For instance, the labor cost in the US and Europe is much high than that in South Asia, you may save about 50% on assembly labor costs when you get assembly services in cheap labor countries. But when you choose the labor from different countries, you should also focus on their expertise in PCB assembly, especially for some complicated PCB assembly projects like multi-layer PCBA.

  1. Order Volume

The order quantities for PCBA can significantly affect the assembly cost, PCB assemblers would offer favorable prices for high order volume, while for small quantities, you may cost more for each PCBA, especially when the quantity cannot reach the MOQ, then setup charges, engineering charges, and other one-time costs are needed, which would definitely increase the assembly costs. But for some large quantity orders, you may need to take expensive shipping costs, this is another factor that also needs to be considered when you make the project budget.

  1. Customization

The more customization you need, the higher the cost, so it’s important to keep an eye on the customization specs. Customization such as the number of layers, trace size, and coating on the PCB will increase the cost of PCB assembly. In some cases, the PCBA is required to achieve specific properties such as waterproofing, and the assembly cost will be even higher, as assemblers need to do customization from the bare board to electronic components on it, which is really a time-consuming process.

  1. ExpectedDelivery Time

The expected delivery time of your order can also affect your assembly costs, and rush orders will increase the cost of PCB assembly. On the one hand, assemblers need to suspend some existing orders and focus productivity on your orders, they may even require workers to work overtime to catch up with your schedule, and overtime wages will definitely increase the cost. On the other hand, regular shipping wastes a lot of time, so you must choose expedited shipping to ensure that you can receive your PCBA on time, but expedited shipping comes with higher costs.

  1. Packaging Cost

The packaging cost is another factor that affects the cost of PCB assembly, and different electronic component packaging will lead to different assembly costs. Some components may require more manpower to complete the package, taking BGA as an example, it takes more time and effort to complete the package because they have to be connected to the power supply. Unlike other components, the electrical pins of a BGA must be inspected by X-ray to check for problems such as short circuits, which would greatly increase the cost of assembly.

How to Save Your PCB Assembly Costs

How to Save Your PCB Assembly Costs

  1. Optimize PCB Design

There are a variety of factors that would affect the PCB cost including the surface finish, PCB sizes, the number of layers, and Via technologies. And designing these parts reasonably can help to reduce the cost while maintaining the quality. For example, the more vias on the board, the more expensive they would cost, and the smaller the vias are, the higher cost it would take. Thus, it is important for designers to arrange the numbers and the sizes of vias carefully. In addition, different shapes of the board would also affect the price, normally, shapes like squares and rectangles have lower costs than other special shapes, so when designing the PCB, if there is not that necessary to make the board with special shapes, try to do it with regular shapes.

  1. Comprehensive Bill of Materials

It is of great importance to create a bill of materials (BOM) that includes the raw materials, components, assemblies, and sub-assemblies required for the manufacturing and assembly of the PCB. An efficient BOM should encompass necessary data like part number, manufacturer name, reference designator, description, quantity, package, footprint, and note, which can save much assembly cost by placing high-volume orders. Normally, PCB assemblers would offer a BOM template, and you just need to fill it out based on your PCBA requirements. We recommend adding components replacement in BOM, as the electronics industry is rapidly developing, and new upgraded components would replace the old ones, it would take much time to find the replacement on the market. And if you can provide complete BOM with components replacement information, the PCB assembler can deliver the PCBA without delays and reduce the costs as well.

  1. Find a Reliable PCB Assembler

Working with a reliable PCB assembler can save your assembly cost as well, a good assembler helps you to cut costs while guaranteeing the assembly quality. But it’s not an easy job to select the right assembler, below are some key considerations about how to pick reliable PCB assemblers: First of all, you should check their certification to ensure the manufacturing capabilities and management practices of the PCB assembly machine can meet high standards. They should at least get the certifications like ISO9001, RoHS, IPC, and UL. Second, you should know what kind of equipment they used. State-of-the-art equipment can improve the assembly efficiency and ensure the high quality of assembly, for example, advanced SMT equipment makes sure the components can be assembled with high precision. Last, you should check if the assembler has a good relationship with their suppliers. A stable supplier network makes sure that you can get favorable prices, what’s more, it can ensure a stable supply of raw materials or electronic components and avoid delivery delays.

  1. Adjust Order Volume and Lead Time

According to economies of scale, the more PCBAs you place, the lower the price you can get. Therefore, before placing an order, it would be better to make a scientific estimate of the project demand and understand its order volume. If there is a large demand, it is best to place an order at one time rather than in batches. As to the lead time, please make sure you have negotiated a specific date with your assembler. And let the supplier start the assembly as soon as possible, otherwise, assembly time would be very rushed, and additional costs will be incurred.

  1. Get the Labor from Low Paying Regions

As we know that PCB assemblers in western Europe and the United States are skillful, but the cost would be extremely high. So working with assemblers in low paying regions is another way to reduce your cost. But we should notice that lower assembly cost is not our final purpose, it’s true that countries like Vietnam or India have lower labor costs, but they are lack of skilled workforce and cannot ensure the quality of PCBA. Instead, we suggest you working with PCB assemblers in China where the labor cost is not that expensive and they have a sufficient skilled workforce.

Partnering with MOKO to Decrease the PCBs Assembly Cost

MOKO offers scientific quotations after comprehensively considering various factors that affect the cost of PCB assembly. Our experts are very familiar with various raw materials and electronic components required for PCB assembly and can provide the best assembly solution within your budget. In addition, we involve customers early in the process so that decisions that help reduce costs are handled upfront. We have a strong and stable supplier network worldwide, which means that we can always get high-quality raw materials at competitive prices.

Apart from the lower PCB assembly cost, we also pay much attention to the quality of PCBA. At MOKO, we have a stringent quality control system, we are certified with ISO9001, RoHS, IPC, and UL, moreover, we also got the certification of ISO13485, which means that we can assemble PCB for medical devices. We apply kinds of inspection methods such as functional tests, x-ray testing, visual inspection, and AOI inspections, making sure that each piece of PCBA we delivered to our clients is superior. Partnering with us not only reduces your PCB assembly costs but also frees you from worrying about quality issues.

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