10 Tips to Save on PCB Costs
How to save PCB costs? 10 Tips You'll want to know
Making low-cost PCBS is not easy and requires a lot of machines, manpower, and process to make it all happen. But your concerns may be different, and you need to get your board back in time while saving some money in the process. This is the reason MADPCB is here to help you avoid any unnecessary complexity and errors in your PCB design that can take a lot of PCB manufacturing time from your wallet. So, without further ado, here we've rounded up 10 practical tips that will guarantee you'll save money on your next trip to a fab house.
Tip 1 - Keep your PCB size at a minimum
While this one may be the most obvious, it's also a factor that could cost you a fortune. Always try to keep your finished board size to a minimum as it gets bigger so your costs. And the same is true the other way around. If your board is too small, the PCB manufacturer will need very precise equipment to put everything together, which will also cost more. So, at the end of the day, navigating between size and complexity is a balancing act, but try to err on the side of "less is more."
Tip # 2: Don't skimp on quality materials
Before you go to your manufacturer and tell them to use those cheaper, alternative materials for your layer stacks, hear us out. Think about when you get that board back, what if it fails a few days, weeks, or months after you power it up?
If you skimp on your materials now, you could lose even more money in the long run when you find out that your board is a glorified coffee coaster. So, when choosing materials for your layer stack, use standard, high-quality materials for a good reason.
Tip # 3: Stick to a standard plate shape
Unless you have a crazy-looking shell to fit your design, always design your board in the standard square and rectangular shapes that feature most PCBS. Doing anything out of whack will greatly increase your manufacturing costs. Also, do not add any internal cuts to the PCB unless you need it to mount to a housing. Keep it simple!
Tip 4 - Maintain minimum spacing requirements
This method is the opposite of the size of your board. When the spacing between your copper objects, such as pads and tracks, decreases, your manufacturing costs will increase even more. The idea behind this is fairly simple. The more you pack into a small package, the more accurate the machine needs to be. Many fabs have a standard set of spacing requirements, which is about 8-10 mil minimum spacing between the liner, track and track width.
Always check with your manufacturer to see their specific spacing requirements. And avoid the additional worry of adding design rules for these spacing requirements in PCB design software, so it does not need to be considered at design time.
Tip 5 - Use the largest diameter hole possible
The smaller the holes and rings, the more expensive they are to make. Again, it comes down to smaller Spaces requiring precise mechanics. Many factories will even charge extra if the hole you need is less than 0.4mm, so be sure to call your manufacturer to avoid any unnecessary costs.
Tip 6 - Design with the right channels
There are three kinds of through holes: through holes, blind holes, and buried holes. The latter two are only used on high-density and high-frequency PCBS. So, it is simple, if your design does not require these types of through-holes, exclude them to avoid any additional manufacturing costs. For a simple design, adhere to the use of a through hole, easy to manufacture.
Tip # 7: Don't apply more than one layer
Think twice before adding a bunch of extra layers for more routing space, power plane, or performance. The difference between four and two layers is double! In your next design, keep things neat and compact, using only the required number of layers to get the job done. Even if that means a bigger board.
Tip 8 - Set the PCB design to the panel
At the fab, the PCB is on a huge panel with a bunch of other PCBS, or just yours, depending on how many you ordered. At this point, using the largest panel available from the manufacturer can save you a lot of money. Putting all your boards on one panel means quickly picking and placing the machine allows all your parts to be placed in one go without any extra setup time.
Tip 9 - Use only industry standard sizes and components
The electronics industry uses standardized sizes and components for a reason - it makes everyone's job easier and more efficient. It also adds some potential for the automation of all these high-tech manufacturing devices. So, to avoid any waste caused by having your manufacturer assemble your strange components by hand, be sure to stick to industry standard specifications, which may vary from plant to plant.
Tip 10 - Stick to surface mount components if possible
Last but not least, unless you're building a super complex design, it's best to stick to standard surface mount components (also known as surface mount devices, or SMDS). Why? Here's why:
Using surface-mounted assemblies will reduce the number of holes that need to be drilled into your board, typically for through-hole assemblies.
This will also reduce the number of processes required to get all your parts soldered to your circuit board.
You may get your board back in less time because the through-hole components need to be assembled by hand by a certified person.