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Optimizing PCB prototype design to lower Manufacturing Costs

Aries / 2019-06-25

PCB cost reduction starts from the PCB design, PCB prototype also needs good design. A good design is everything. A great product is easy to predict with excellent product design. In PCB manufacturing the first process of cost reduction is at the PCB design itself. The more optimized a PCB design is, the better the chances of it having a reduced PCB cost.


In this article, we would like to discuss with you.      


How to cut out unnecessary costly elements of the design?


How to design effectively for your intended use of your circuit board?


What causes the costs to rise when designing a PCB?


Use the minimum amount of layers in PCB Prototype design


If careful placement and routing were done, you can minimize the number of copper layers you need. Use the fewest layers possible without comprising the quality or function and you'll be able to save money when designing your PCB. The table below shows how the price changes in relation to the number of layers.


 

Number of layers

Increase in PCB cost

1

-25%

2

0

4

+30%

6

+80%

8

+120%


The minimum surface area


The bigger the sizes or surface area, the higher the cost. If the component placing and routing is considered carefully, you can take advantage of all the space possible and keep space to a minimum. Whatever the shape of your PCB, it will be the rectangular box that encompasses your shape that you pay for. So to maximize the area you get for your buck, make your PCB rectangular.


The copper thickness and its effect on PCB Prototype


PCBs come in various copper weights or thicknesses. we express this in millimeters (mm) but coppercan be measured in:

§  mils (mil) meaning one-thousandths of an inch, so 1000 mil = 1 inch

§  millimeters (mm), 1 mm equals a 1000 microns (um) 

§  inches (inch), 1 inch equals 25.4mm

§  ounces (oz), 1oz weight of copper = 35 microns of copper thickness

§  4 thou = 0.1 mm = 100 um


oz

Inch  

mil

mm

um

≈ um

Increase in PCB price in %

0.5

0.000685

0.685

0.017399

17.399

17

0

1

0.00137

1.37

0.034798

34.798

35

0

2

0.00274

2.74

0.069596

69.596

70

10 %

3

0.00411

4.11

0.104394

104.394

105

20 % or higher

 

How to set minimum clearance/spacing?


The track width and spacing of your design can greatly affect the cost of your PCB. For this reason, you should choose dimensions that enable you to finish your layout comfortably. The closer the spacing the higher the cost of your PCB design when it comes to manufacturing.


Minimum Track Width/Spacing

increase in PCB Price %

>4/4 mil

0

=4/4 mil

10

=3/3 mil

25   or higher

 

Consider single orders for your board as prototypes


Depending on how many PCBs you need, you could order your boards as prototypes. This is an easy way to keep costs low as there will likely be a lot of restrictions on your design already, as the manufacturing process will involve a large number of other boards as well as your own. There also might be a benefit in terms of lead time.


Minimize overall board size


When designing your board that the overall board size will lead to increased costs. Make your board as small as possible while still functioning.

It is apparent here: the bigger the board size, the more the cost of production. It is that simple.


Use Industry Green color


Green is the industry standard for solder mask color. All the PCB production processes are set up and optimized for a green solder resist and white legend. If you wish to make your board unique by changing its color, it may be resulted in additional costs.


Do notuse irregular shapes


Complex board shape is likely to increase the cost as compared to using simple shapes like a square or rectangle.

Some product designer would like their final product look unique or different, they end up creating complicated shapes for their PCB boards. These shapes demand the use of equipment with more precision and additional cost overheads.


If you don’t go for a square or a rectangle for your PCB, be aware that other shapes will cost more from many other manufacturers. PCBA Store will evaluate its complexity, will not charge extra cost or charge a little according to the designs.


Look into panelizing the layout


By adopting on-board panelization, you could save a few bucks. For instance, when printed circuit boards are framed into panels, they produce PCBs that work faster and better. They also waste fewer PCB materials, and they decrease the lead time.


During the process of manufacturing,  PCB panelization would help in saving cost and improve manufacturing lead-time.

If you use PCBA Store, we do not charge for panelisation if you use our free optional panelisation service.


Holes and Rings


During a PCB design, things like rings and holes might be needed for the board. holes and rings should be designed to fit the board yet remain as large as possible.


Bigger hole diameters are preferable during PCB manufacturing as they require less precision during fabrication.

Smaller holes and rings usually need more control and precision to achieve. These factors demand specialized equipment that will, in turn, drive the PCB production costs higher.


There are three types of vias, blind, buried and through holes.


there will be price differences depending on your choice. Blind and buried vias are intended to be used for high density and complex high-frequency boards. If your design is simple, and 99% of PCBs manufactured are simple, design using regular through holes, and don't try to use blind and buried as they will be much more expensive, adding a minimum of + 30% to the PCB cost.


How PCBA Store Can Help?


We specialize in providing a low-cost fast turnaround PCB prototype service. Our PCB expert would check the PCB prototype with you at the beginning, with their years' experience, they will forward suggestion about the PCB design, help you reducing cost by optimizing the designs.


When you partner with PCBA Store, we follow up the PCB project closely with you. we respect non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, will keep every document and files as confidential, contact us to discuss your project and the requirements.