Several practical tips to reduce PCBA cost

With the advancement in electronics, PCBA is taking over almost all electronic devices. Having a high-quality product at the lowest possible cost is almost impossible. The competency of a printed circuit board’s design for assembly, repair, testing, manufacturing, and dependability determines its quality. Poor circuit design decisions mainly result in having expensive PCBA even more than they are worth. Some design parameters would be good to have but may not be required, perhaps leading to higher PCB production costs. So, examining and altering some design features may result in a cheaper PCB without compromising on the high-quality as well as the functionality of the PCBA. In order to carry forward the spirit of win-win, FS Technology has compiled several methods that can help reduce the cost of PCBA assembly by analyzing the PCBA cost drivers.

Optimization of Schematic Design

Before moving to the real manufacturing phase of PCBA, it is important to know if the designed model is implementable or not by just checking on the DFM rules. Nowadays, different advanced schematic and PCB designing software offers a lot of improvements beneficial for streamlining design flow. Such design tools offer much in improving the quality of PCBA while minimizing the estimated cost of manufacturing.

  • To make a design one time go short, it is influential to review and test each portion of the design, this also reduces the rework probability which is one of the major causes of expensive PCBA. Reviewing design also highlights specific nets, specific components, and also tracing routes.
  • Maintain a well-developed design library to avoid the designing same component package again and again.
  • A lot of time can be saved by saving and reutilizing the same circuitry, just like using the component package from the library.
  • Circuit design data can be lost in many situations, so avoid wasting time in designing again that data by creating a backup.
  • Shape and size: Keep the size and shape as small and simple as possible, which may be helpful in lowering shipping costs.
  • Trace Spacing: Smaller traces and smaller spaces between them, resulting in more complex PCBs, so optimal minimal trace spacing is recommended.

Hunt for professional and reliable PCBA Manufacturer

Almost all PCBA assembly fabricators claim to offer high-quality and at the same time cost-effective services, however not all of them deliver what they promise. To start the hunt for a PCBA fabricator, it is critical to know the requirements and the expected cost of desired PCBA earlier.  After knowing each parameter of the project then do a detailed study of different PCBA manufacturers using different means like internet journals or magazines, it will need a significant amount of time and effort, but it will be well worth it. While hunting for the perfect manufacturer, the following point proves worthy of keeping in mind.

  • Certificates: ISO9001, RoHS, and UL are a few certifications that ensure the management as well as manufacturing capabilities of any PCBA fabricator. 
  • Equipment Handling: With the advent of technology especially in electronics, SMT  (Surface Mount Technology) requires high component placement with more precision along with high manufacturing speed. 
  • Component Procurement: In order to save money and also time, it is essential to select a manufacturer which provides not only manufacturing services but also offers components sourcing services

Complete and effective BOM

A Bill of Materials (BOM) is used for components purchasing, planning, and monitoring inventory. Generally, BOM comprises all the essential data such as the part number of components designed by the manufacturer, alternate part information, quantity, and reference designators, which are beneficial in case of placing an order in bulk. A good BOM may also mention lifecycle status and the lead time of each component, lowering production costs and preventing delays.

Clarify Components Sourcing

Sometimes, it is difficult to manage all work. Therefore, select a PCBA manufacturer like FS Technology that also offers components sourcing as well. As many of them have good ties with different distributors of components. Such manufacturers can help reduce supply chain costs by obtaining the desired components at wholesale rate just below retail price.

Analysis for component placement while designing

It is important to decide the perfect placement for each component in the PCB. In order to lower manufacturing costs and also improve rework ease, it is essential not to place small components with larger ones, as this could restrict the accessibility for soldering and also create a lot of hurdles while reworking. 

Clear Reference Designator on PCB

It is good practice to place the component reference designator close to the component on the PCB.  This could help in component placement on PCB for the first time and also in rework. In this way, this tip proves beneficial in reducing cost as well as time required for manufacturing PCBA.

Follow DFM rules while designing

The quality of PCB can be increased by optimizing the design layout, which eventually leads to good costs effective PCBA. Following are some points to consider:

  • To improve along with ease of soldering, it is indispensable to optimize layout design accordingly. Avoid placing large components and small components side by side, which makes it difficult to solder and results in more time and costs as well.
  • Must make sure PCBA has DFT (Design for Test), if not then manual testing can lead to more expensive and this will take more time. 
  • Vias in PCB must be as minimum as possible. 
  • Select substrate which fits best for PCBA design
  • PCB size and thickness should be properly measured and designed accordingly ∙ Design minimum possible PCB layers.

Cutting down PCBA Fabrication Expenses

A lot of money is usually spent on fabricating PCBA, but it can be minimized by following some protocols:

  • When feasible, look for ways to decrease the number of board layers. However, for improved signal integrity and PCBA performance, a greater layer count may be required.  In this situation, more money can be saved at a minor cost.
  • Look for the lower-cost PCB material available with almost equal efficiency and overall performance. It is not recommended to opt for expensive material if cheaper material is available.
  • Check PCB design technology as an opportunity to reduce PCBA costs. Like if there is no need for buried vias in the layout, then they should be avoided in order to make the layout cost-effective.
  • To make sure that PCB design is feasible to fabricate more efficiently, it is important to ensure if the design complies with DFF (Designed for Fabrication) rules or not. Checking this before fabricating PCB can result in saving time and money.

Adjust lead time and order volume

There is an inverse relationship between the volume of components to order and the costs of commodities. In simple words, the more components to order, the lesser price is demanded by the distributor. It is significant to create a check and balance between demand and supplies because if there are lesser number of components than required, then this situation results in more time, and if more components are ordered than required, then this condition may cause a waste of money and result in expensive PCBA.

The biggest issue with lead time is its computation method. Different PCB manufacturers calculate lead times in different ways. It is significant to make sure how the selected PCBA fabricator calculates the lead time, like When do you pay? When do you want it? When does the beginning time begin? When did you get your components? There is a general rule of thumb, longer the lead time results in cheaper the cost of that specific component.

Perform thoroughly testing

After the fabrication of the PCBA, it is important to inspect and test the PCBA to get high-quality standards, as this can forecast the errors and mistakes before mass production. If there is any mistake, then that mistake can be avoided in production, which results in saving time and money. Some PCB manufacturer offers this facility to the customer as it is easier to test and inspect the PCB where they are manufactured. In this way, such PCB fabricators can reduce costs and also save much time. 

Inspection can be done either manually or visually. In manual inspection surface quality, PCB thickness, board warpage, and other PCB physical aspects are inspected while in visual inspection missing track, missing components, and track shortage is meant to be checked. A thorough inspection of the PCB before installing the components is an excellent idea for lowering assembly costs.

Заключение

Fabricating Printed Circuit Board Assembly can be an expensive and time-consuming process.  With the advancements in technology, there is a need to fabricate more complex PCBs to make devices smarter and more compact. For this purpose designers aimed to place more electronic components in lesser space, which make PCB fabrication a difficult process. Staying under budget may also be a difficult task, especially for such complex and sophisticated PCBs. Things only grow more difficult when you’re producing PCBs in large quantities. It is important to understand where and how to decrease expenses for the desired PCBA while maintaining efficiency and quality. All above mention points are important to keep in mind while designing and fabricating PCB to lower PCBA costs without trading-off its quality.

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