printed circuit board assembly

How to Optimize the Primary Cost Drivers for PCB Assembly

Printed circuit boards or PCBs are something we use in everyday life without always knowing it. They can be used in computers, televisions, home appliances, smartphones, and other electronic devices. They are part of the processing power in those devices.

In many business operations, there are many hidden costs which are incredibly difficult to quantify. With those types of costs, it can make it near impossible to quantify profit margins. The ability to determine the true cost of manufacturing and return on investment (ROI) is vital to a business’s success. The same is very apparent in the process of printed circuit board assembly manufacturing.

Cost Factors to Consider

Recognizing which factors can drive up the costs, allows companies to strategize and design their PCB assemblies accordingly. It also allows them to determine the ROI in easier fashion. Obviously custom PCB assembly is more costly than standardized PCB manufacturing, but there are other things to take into consideration.

Key factors to consider are listed below:

  • Type of Board Used
  • Board Size
  • Number of Layers
  • Solder Mask Color
  • Choice of Materials Used
  • Drill Pairs and Other Variations

Type of Board Used

For those PCB assemblies which require a flex board or a rigid-flex board it may increase the costs considerably. The reason is due to the need for stiffeners to be applied to the flex boards during assembly. Also, flex boards require more lamination cycles than traditional boards which also raise the cost of each unit.

Board Size

Standard board sizes are what most manufacturing machinery is designed to assemble. Any change to this size will require custom PCB assembly by the manufacturer.

With large boards, it is simply a matter of adding in the cost of additional material to be used to build the oversized board. They also require larger panels as well. The same can be said for small boards as well. That is due to the fact that they have a higher layer count than traditional boards.

Number of Layers

Single layer PCB assemblies are far less expensive than dual layer ones. With custom circuit board assembly, every layer added is an additional expense added to the final cost per unit.

Solder Mask Color

In most cases, with PCB assembly USA, white tends to be the least expensive color of any option. That doesn’t mean solder can’t come in green, black, or red. While those colors can look impressive on a finished PCB assembly, it does drive up the overall cost.

Choice of Material Used

When printed circuit board assembly requires the use of dielectric materials it can increase the costs. Also, when PCB assemblies need to use high-speed boards, it can also make the costs rise for each unit.

Drill Pairs and Other Variations

The number of drill holes in the board can increase the cost considerably. That is due to the fact that drill pairs require additional sequential lamination. Via types can also increase the costs. Via types are required for drill pair requirements. Buried vias, as well as stacked microvias, can also greatly increase the costs of printed circuit board assembly

Printed Circuit Board Assembly Design

While the factors detailed above each illustrate how they can impact the overall cost of the assembly, it really brings the design and specs of the PCB assembly into focus. As with most everything nowadays, the design complexity of the board and associated components can cause the unit price to skyrocket. This then impacts the profitability of each unit and affects the bottom line of the company.

Component Cost Associated with Procurement

The number of unique components can impact the overall cost of each PCB assembly.

The processes below can also increase the price:

  • Staking
  • Underfilling
  • Coating
  • Cleaning
  • Inspections

Component Package Type

There are various package types, all of which can lead to increased assembly costs. Some of the package types are listed below:

  • BGA
  • CSP
  • LGA
  • Flip Chip

Every one of the package types used can increase the cost.

Cleaning Requirements

While it might be overlooked, contaminants can lead to malfunctioning PCB assemblies. All the care is given to choosing the right components and developing the right design to ensure correct function at a price point the company can live with. While those things are incredibly important, they are not the only things to consider.

In order to meet minimal ionic contamination levels, it is important to have the proper cleaning protocols. Without them

How to Manage Costs in PCBA Development

It is important to choose a PCB manufacturer which holds your core values and price point in mind during the development process.

The basic guidelines to better manage cost:

  • Work With Manufacturer with Turnaround That Meets Your Needs
  • Work With Manufacturer with Quality Control That Meets Your Needs
  • Do Not Over spec the PCB Assemblies
  • Do Not Try and Design the Speed into the Development Process
  • Avoid Unnecessary Testing

One-way companies tend to increase the cost is by over complicating their PCBs by making poor design decisions.

In Conclusion

There are numerous ways to minimize cost drivers for PCB Assemblies. At Star Engineering, we pride ourselves at providing high-quality solutions at competitive prices. Reach out to Star Engineering to find our about how we can partner with you to provide the best in circuit board assembly manufacturing solutions.

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