Everything You Need to Know About Low-Cost PCB Assembly Manufacturer
Are you looking for where to get low-cost PCB assembly? You are not the only one looking for that because many other PCB consumers are also on the lookout.
Because of the higher demand and limited supply, you already know that it can be difficult to get cheap PCB assembly.
We care about your circuit board needs and we would do all we can to ensure that you get the best service at affordable rates. You may have since believed that you must spend a whole lot of money to purchase circuit boards or assemble one.
That isn’t always how it is because there are lots of ways you can use to cut down on the expenses you make for circuit boards. That is the essence of this article because we will be introducing you to some of the strategic ways of lowering the costs of assembling your Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) without sacrificing quality.
What Affects PCB Assembly Price?
To be honest, you will keep going round in circles if all you do is to look for solutions or possible ways of reducing the cost of PCB assembly without paying attention to the factors that increase the cost.
Indeed, when you are aware of the factors responsible for increasing the costs of PCB assembly, it will be a lot easier for you to find actionable ways of avoiding them.
To that end, here are some of the possible factors that can cause you to spend more money on PCB assembly:
1. Component Placement
The truth is that the method of placing the components of the circuit board can be one of the major reasons for the price increment.
Of course, you may have been sourcing the components because you wanted to reduce costs, but by the time they are mounted on the board and they don’t work; you will be forced to spend more money to purchase working components.
To that end, some of the actionable ways of reducing hitches in component placement are to:
- Request for only double-sided PCB assembly and
- Requesting only Top Layer assembly on your circuit board
2. Processes of Assembly
Another factor that can increase the costs of PCB assembly is the process involved in the assembly.
The tougher the process is, the more time the PCB designer spends to get the job done. And because the manufacturer works with time, it implies that you will pay for the extra time it takes the manufacturer to set up the components on the circuit board.
Some of the processes involved in the assembly of circuit boards include:
- Hand solder
- Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Pick and Place
- Through Hole Slide Line and
- General Assembly
3. Type of Assembly
The type or method of assembling the circuit board is also important. You need to know that the types of assembly vary, and they also depend on the type of circuit board you want to manufacture.
Indeed, there are many options you can choose from, but be careful so you don’t have to spend above your budget.
Some of the reliable methods of designing circuit boards are:
- Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and
- Through Hole
Of course, you will like to see how your new PCB works before it is shipped to you. While that can help cut down on the costs of sending back the board to the manufacturer if it defects, it can also cost you more money upfront.
The reason is that you need to pay an additional sum of money before you can get the low-cost assembly PCB manufacturer to test the board.
We must mention that you can negotiate your way through this because some PCB manufacturers can be lenient enough to allow you to test the circuit board before it is shipped.
Also, the costs of the testing aren’t always the same. For instance, the cost of In-Circuit Test (ICT) may not be the same as the cost of Power Up Testing.
5. Special Parts
Depending on your needs, you may want to integrate special or additional parts into your circuit board. It costs money to do that because the more special parts are introduced into the circuit board, the more funds you need to spend to pay the PCB designer.
6. BOM Evaluation
Have you taken the time to evaluate your Bill of Materials (BOM)? The chances are that you tend to spend more money because your BOM contains materials that cost more.
Thus, the low-cost assembly manufacturer tends to evaluate your BOM to make an accurate analysis of what it will cost to get all the materials needed for the PCB design.
7. Number of Your Order(s)
The other factor you must consider is the number of circuit boards you want to design.
Understandably, you may be working on a shoestring budget, but that doesn’t mean you need to take for granted the specifications of the manufacturer.
As a rule of thumb, it will benefit you the more if you keep the panelization and pattern your order in line with the specified order quantities of the manufacturer you want to hand the job.
Choosing Third-Party PCB Assembly Services
Using the services of third-party PCB service providers seems to be a veritable way of getting cheap PCB assembly.
We must mention that there are some factors you must consider anytime you want to use third-parties to reduce the PCB assembly price.
First, we will take you through the advantages before considering the negative sides of using third-party PCB assembly service providers.
Pros of Using Third-Party PCB Assembly Providers
Do you want to know why you should use the cheap PCB assemblyservices from third-party service providers?
There are many reasons why you must do that and some of those are explained below:
Using third-parties is all about outsourcing the PCB design. Because of that, you will have more time to attend to other important aspects of the PCB design.
2. Saves Money
You will not only be saving and channeling your time to other meaningful ventures. You will save money too.
How you may ask? The reason is simple – it attracts fewer costs to products multiple PCBs because most of the work is handled by professionals at fewer costs.
3. Excellent Component Sourcing
You needn’t do all the legwork when it comes to manufacturing your circuit boards. Rather, it will do you a world of good to delegate the projects to some other professionals who will handle the design from start to finish.
Another impressive feature of using the services of a low-cost PCB assembly manufacturer is that the manufacturer will also handle the sourcing of the components.
The beauty of this is that the manufacturer will leverage the extensive connections to get the best components for you without you having to break a bank.
Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use a Third-Party PCB Manufacturer
You also need to understand that you may not be making the best choice by using the services of a third-party service provider as a way of reducing the PCB assembly price.
To prove why that is so, here are some of the cons or downsides of trusting a third-party PCB service provider with your work.
1. Assembly Modifications
First, you must understand that the modifications of the PCB design are a major factor that determines if can trust it with your design or not.
Interestingly, if the design of the circuit board requires constant modifications and tuning, it wouldn’t be wise to entrust it to a third-party PCB designer.
Instead, it will be a lot better to hand-over such a design to hire the services of a PCBA assembly service provider that will help you anytime you need modifications and repetitive work.
2. Limited Control
Unlike the traditional PCB design setting, you will now be left with little or no options when it comes to controlling the design processes.
That is because the third-party PCB designer has been charged with the responsibility of controlling the entire design procedures. Hence, your recommendations and inputs may make little or no impact on the already-established PCB design.
3. Zero Parts Sourcing
By the time you hand-over the job, you will realize that you may have also given away your control over the component sourcing.
Ordinarily, you could have directed the manufacturer where to source the parts or you will be allowed to provide the parts.
Instead, the third-party PCB service provider may be forced to source the parts from start to finish.
That is not saying that it is bad because most times, the manufacturer has an extensive network of suppliers that can always supply the needed parts.
Effective Ways of Reducing PCB Assembly Cost
Now, we are getting to the most interesting part of the article. How can you reduce the costs of manufacturing your circuit boards?
You need to learn about the effective ways of initiating PCB assembly cost breakdown because that will help you find out some of the strategic ways of spending less and getting quality PCB design.
1. Substitute BOM Parts
You may not have thought in this direction but the fact is that you should start adding alternative parts that can be sourced to complete your PCB assembly.
The reason for doing this is none other than that the manufacturer might not find the exact parts you stated in your Bill of Materials (BOM).
To prevent the manufacturer from sourcing parts that may not be compatible, it makes sense that you add the alternatives.
That way, the PCB assembly designer can immediately purchase the alternative parts and get to work.
2. Include Parts with Leads
One of the excellent ways of reducing the costs of PCB assembly is to include those parts that have visible leads.
The reason is that PCB parts that have visible leads needn’t be x-rayed. That way, you wouldn’t have to invest in QFNs and BGAs, which are most times subjected to x-rays to confirm their viability of being used in the circuit board. And anytime the x-rays are conducted, you will spend more money because the costs of the PCB assembly will increase too.
3. Request PCB Assembly Quote
This is the logical thing to do – ask for the quote of the PCB assembly design you want to be done for you.
Now, many PCB manufacturers include PCB assembly cost estimator on their websites so you can conveniently enter the specifications of the circuit board to get a quote.
4. Provide Components on Continuous Strips
The fourth actionable way of breaking down the costs of PCB assembly is to provide components that have continuous strips. If you can’t get that, consider providing the alternative – components on reels.
The reason for doing it is that if you are providing the PCB assembly manufacturer with any of the two aforementioned components, it will be a lot easier for the manufacturer to spend less time setting up the machine.
5. Avoid Using Some Parts
Not all PCB assembly parts are worth using on the circuit board. For example, you should start reducing the use of through-hole parts because they tend to increase the costs of PCB assembly. That is tenable because such parts require using hand solders to drill holes.
Because of that, you will be required by the manufacture to spend more money on the fabrication process.
6. Increase the Volume of Your Order
You don’t always have to play small. It is time to sniff the coffee and start taking proactive steps to cut down on the excessive PCB assembly price.
One veritable way of doing that is by increasing the volume of the order you want to make. For example, you will discover that the moment you decide to assembly 500 circuit boards, the cost of production will be lower when compared to assembling 100 units or less.
That is also because the PCB assembly designer wouldn’t spend more time ensuring that all the parts of the limited orders are complete because everything tends to be automated now.
How to Select a Low-Cost Assembly PCB Manufacturer
And when you must have done your homework and figured out the PCBA cost estimator strategy that works for you; the next step will be to select the best low-cost assembly PCB manufacturer.
Here are some of the factors you must always have in mind because they will help you get the best PCB assembly manufacturer for the job:
- Ensure that the manufacturer has a working relationship with the component suppliers, as that makes it easier for you to source components faster.
- Confirm the minimum order volume so you don’t have to bid for less.
- Quotation rate
- Turnaround time and
- Certifications to confirm the authoritativeness of the PCB designer as far as PCB assembly is concerned.
You don’t need to break a bank or reduce the quality of your anticipated circuit board design before you can reduce the costs.
The tips we just shared will help you make remarkable efforts at PCB assembly cost breakdown while helping you to get the best manufacturer for the job.
We are always here to help you design world-class Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) that will improve the quality of your electronic products while making your customers happy and ready to buy from you again.