Getting PCBs manufactured is simpler than ever before, but it can still be a complex process for some people. If you are working on a tight budget, your design and manufacturing options will be limited. Keeping your board’s costs as low as possible leaves you with the headroom you need to alter your design later if necessary.
Below are five tips that any PCB designers can implement to keep their manufacturing costs as low as possible. If you are working on a tight budget, these tips will help you stay within it.
Keep Your Board Size To A Minimum
It might sound obvious but keeping your board size to a minimum is one of the most effective ways of minimizing manufacturing costs. Using space more efficiently won’t just keep your prices down – it will also lead to better overall designs.
Of course, you don’t want to make your board too small. If you don’t leave sufficient space for components and traces, you will run into numerous issues.
Pay For Quality Materials
Cheaper materials might seem like an easy way of saving money, but they will actually cost you more in the long run. Inferior materials will lead to an inferior end product. Cheaper materials are also more likely to fail. A higher failure rate means you are getting fewer working boards for your money.
Stick With Standard Board Shapes As Much As You Can
Unless you need to deviate from the standard board shapes, you should avoid custom boards at all costs. Custom boards are expensive and will immediately send your manufacturing costs through the roof.
Internal cutouts are particularly tricky. Not only will they raise your costs, but they will also throw up a bunch of other design challenges that can be tricky to overcome.
Stay Within Minimum Spacing Requirements
If you try to pack more components into a small space, more precise manufacturing is required. More precise manufacturing is more expensive, meaning your manufacturing costs are higher. Most manufacturers will have minimum spacing requirements. If you need to exceed these limits and place components closer together than the minimum requirements allow, you will need to pay ore.
Source Components Carefully
PCBs have come a long way in recent years. But if you want to unlock the full potential of PCBs and microcontrollers, you will need to augment them with electronic components. There are numerous suppliers out there, an overwhelming number, in fact. With so many to choose from, finding the right source for your needs can get complicated.
You can search for electronic suppliers and electronic parts using Octopart. As well as listing potential suppliers, Octopart also provides data sheets with detailed specifications for each component.
PCB manufacturing has never been more affordable. Whether you are producing a dozen boards or several thousand, prices are becoming increasingly competitive. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep your costs as low as possible. Stick to the tips above, and you should have no trouble minimizing your PCB manufacturing costs.